An all-time favorite and best companion for your sandwich or burger are pickles that are also the oldest tradition of preserving vegetables. Several studies have been carried out confirming health benefits of fermented pickles as they are loaded with prebiotics that promote gut health.
Pickles are also packed with vitamins and minerals that are present in a vinegar brine. Sour and salty flavored pickles are helpful in weight loss, diabetes and sometimes prevents cancer. Let’s get to know them in detail:
How are pickles made?
Pickles are made through a process called anaerobic fermentation. Vegetables are dipped in a brine which changes the texture and flavor of vegetables. In Asian countries, a mixture of vinegar and vegetable oil is used to make pickles. This fermentation process reduces the pH level of vegetables which kills the bacteria present in these vegetables. To enhance the pickling process and flavor, herbs and spices like cloves, garlic, cinnamon, or mustard seeds are added to them.
All around the world, different countries have different traditions of preserving vegetables, fruits, or even eggs. This fermentation process increases the shelf lives of these vegetables and these can be kept safe without refrigerators as well for a longer time. This pickling process takes several days to ferment the vegetables.
Before getting to know the amazing benefits of pickles, let’s have a look at the history of pickles.
History of pickles
Pickles have been in the jars for literally thousands of years. The practice dates back in 2030 BC and is native to India where initially cucumbers were pickled in brine or vinegar along with salt. Ancient people have always used the pickling technique to preserve the food for a longer time. Pickles always remained a portion of food for sailors and travelers as they were easy to carry without getting spoiled. Pickling has been considered a good food choice during the winter months.
In the pickle making process, cucumber has been a top choice. Cucumber dipped in saltwater brine has an impeccable taste hence the popularity. An ancient book named “The Book Of Jewish Food” narrated that pickled vegetables were used as a staple food for Jews living in Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia. For the past many generations, people living in colder regions, pickled vegetables like cucumber, beets, and shredded cabbage. These vegetables were first left at a warm temperature to get fermented for many weeks to be later shifted to cold, dark cellars. This kept the pickles last through long cold winters until springs.
Nutritional facts of pickles
The following nutritional facts are for 35 gm of pickled cucumber:
Benefits of pickles
Now let’s peep into some amazing advantages of pickles:
- Promotes Digestion: Fermented pickles are rich in probiotics that perform several beneficial functions in the body. Probiotics perform all sorts of health perks including better skin and cardiovascular health. It is found that pickles made in a brine of salt and water provide maximum probiotics as compared to pickles made in vinegar. Probiotics are supremely important for gut health. But one should consume pickles in a moderate amount because of the high level of salt in the brine. The high content of sodium can pose severe threats to human health including heart problems and kidney ailments.
- Ease Muscle Cramps: A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, revealed that sipping on pickle juices eases and soothes muscle cramps. Pickle juices are considered a good replacement of electrolytes for athletes after exercise. Reports suggested that 1/3 cup of brine or pickle juice relieves stomach muscle soreness. Because of brine’s touted benefits, drinking pickle juice is trending in treating muscle cramps, weight loss, and diabetes.
- Keeps Diabetes in Control: Pickles made in vinegar are best in keeping the sugar level of our bodies in control. A study conducted in 2005 showed that adding fermented pickles to our diets greatly controls diabetes.
- Relieves Restless Legs: Some research has shown that drinking pickle juice is a natural remedy for treating restless legs syndrome. The electrolyte present in pickle juices soothes these symptoms and has been found to have a soothing effect on muscle cramps post exercise.
- Aids in Fight Against Spleen Cancer: A small study carried out in 2014, showed that if anyone suffering from spleen cancer includes pickles or traditional Japanese pickles in their diets, it may combat against spleen cancer and provide protection against this particular cancer but shreds of evidence are very minuscule.
- Boosts Immune System: As pickles contain countless vitamins and minerals, these minerals and vitamins protect our bodies from numerous diseases. Pickles strengthen our bones, boost the immune system, are beneficial in aiding anemia, and enhance vision as well.
- Helpful during Pregnancy: During pregnancy, women often crave pickles which is good in some way as it relieves nausea and vomiting. It is also said that consuming pickles fades away the signs of morning sickness. The tangy and sour flavor of pickles not only give taste but also curbs vomiting and nausea.
Side effects of pickles
Moderation should be kept in mind whenever eating anything and the same goes for pickles. The high amount of pickle consumption can elevate the risk of gastric or esophageal cancer. Other than this, the high amount of sodium due to the presence of salt can cause hypertension as well as heart diseases. It’s better to avoid commercially made pickles as they may contain harmful chemicals and too much oil content that might cause high cholesterol in the blood.
Pickles add a crunchy, tangy bite to our food and also taste amazingly good but only when the calculated amount of pickles are consumed as an excess amount can cause many negative health-related issues.