Pickle juice has gained immense popularity in recent years. It is touted as a nutritional superfood and a low-calorie sports drink. Many athletes rely on pickle juice as their pre-workout or post-workout drink. In fact, you don’t have to purchase a jar of pickles to get this juice as it is sold sans pickles in a variety of forms these days. Let us learn about the various ways in which pickle juice can improve health.
What is pickle juice?
Pickle juice is mostly brine solution in which cucumbers are added for pickling. Once you remove and consume the pickles, the juice is all that is left. The cucumbers are fermented by the lactobacillus bacteria that cover the skin of the cucumbers.
Commercially processed pickles also contain vinegar. Pickle juice is also an excellent source of electrolytes, antioxidants, and nutrients. Both the naturally fermented pickles and those fermented in vinegar have their health benefits.
History of pickles
The history of pickles goes back thousands of years to 2030 BC when cucumbers from native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word pickle comes from the Dutch word ‘pekel’ which means ‘salt’ or ‘brine.’ During the olden days, pickling was a necessity as it was the only way to preserve food for a long time. Soldiers, travelers and sailors depended on pickles as their source of food. Americans were introduced to kosher dill pickles during the late 1800s and early 1900s when eastern European arrived in New York City.
Nutritional value of pickle juice
A 100 ml serving of pickle juice contains –
- Carbohydrates – 0.4 grams
- Calcium – 1 to 5 % of RDI
- Sodium – 50 to 115% of RDI
- Potassium – 3% of RDI
- Magnesium – 3% of RDI
- Probiotics – up to 10,700 colony-forming units.
Health benefits of pickle juice
1. Keeps you hydrated
When you exercise for a long duration or in a hot climate, you lose a lot of water through sweat. You also lose sodium and potassium when you sweat. Rehydrating your body with pickle juice is a good option as pickle juice has a lot of sodium and some potassium as well. Drinking pickle juice after a workout helps you to replace the water and the electrolytes lost through sweat.
2. Combats muscle cramps
Pickle juice provides faster relief from muscle cramps as compared to water. According to a 2010 study, when dehydrated men with muscle cramps consumed pickle juice, they recovered 37 % faster than drinking water and 45% faster than drinking no liquid at all.
The volunteers in this study needed only one-third of a cup of pickle to juice to recover (1). Researchers attribute this cramp relieving property of pickle juice to vinegar. Vinegar can stop the nerve signals that make the muscles cramp.
3. Improves athletic performance
According to the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ingesting high sodium drinks like pickle juice before a workout can improve thermoregulation and performance (2).
When you are on the field, you tend to lose a lot of minerals through your sweat. Pickle juice contains calcium chloride and vinegar, which helps the body to absorb essential minerals and recover the normal electrolyte levels. Pickle juice also contains less sugar than other sports drinks, which is beneficial for health.
4. Relieves stomach aches
Pickle juice is a popular home remedy for stomach aches. The vinegar in pickle juice can reduce bloating and boost the levels of good bacteria in the gut. In some cases, stomach pain can be caused by low gastric acid production (3). In such cases, the acidity of the pickle juice can help restore the stomach acidity to a healthy level and relieve pain.
5. Can alleviate PMS symptoms
Pickle juice can also relieve period cramps. It soothes these cramps the same way it soothes other pains. Pickle juice can also reduce the cravings for salty snacks that can arise during menstruation. It can also help in reducing bloating during menstruation.
6. May help you shed pounds
Drinking pickle juice every day can help you lose weight. Pickle juice contains vinegar which is known to help in weight loss. According to a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, daily intake of vinegar may be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity (4).
Pickle juice is fat-free and contains lesser calories than other sports drinks, which makes it a popular choice as the post-exercise drink.
7. Improves digestive health
Naturally, fermented pickles can help alleviate several digestive issues. The probiotics present in pickle juice help maintain a healthy gut flora, which helps prevent digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These benefits are similar to other fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes. Pickle juice contains vinegar, which helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown that vinegar improves the body’s response to insulin and reduces blood sugar spikes after meals (5, 6).
Pickle juice also helps to slow down digestion after a meal, which also helps to control blood sugar levels(7). However, if you are taking medication for diabetes, you should consult with your doctor before taking pickle juice daily.
9. Boosts immunity
Pickle juice contains antioxidants like vitamin C and E, which protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals and boosts immunity. Fermented pickles also contain beneficial bacteria which help boost digestive health. However, the probiotic benefits of pickled juice are not as high as that of yogurt or other probiotic foods.
10. Soothes sunburns
Pickle juice is a popular remedy for sunburn. You can apply it on the sunburnt skin to get relief from the pain.
You develop a hangover because your body is dehydrated after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. The salts in pickle juice help to replenish the electrolytes that you lose when you are dehydrated. The salt in the pickle juice also pushes you to drink more water.
You can choose dill pickle juice for its added benefits. Dill contains quercetin, which is known to possess cholesterol-lowering properties. A 2015 study showed that dill could lower cholesterol levels in hamsters (8). Dill can also help improve stomach cramps, bloating, and or digestion issues.
If you suffer from bad breath, pickle juice may be the solution for you. The vinegar and dill in pickle juice have antibacterial properties which can help get rid of bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath.
Pickle juice can give you all these benefits without paying anything extra. Use the leftover pickle juice as your post-workout drink instead of spending extra money on energy drinks. You can also opt for the commercially available pickle juices.
Other household uses of pickle juice
1. Meat tenderizer
Since pickle juice is acidic, it works well as a meat tenderizer. It can be used to tenderize steak, pork chops, and chicken.
2. Boil potatoes in it
Adding pickle juice to boiling potatoes gives them a subtle tangy flavor. You don’t even have to add extra salt.
3. Clean pots and pans with it
Pickle juice is an excellent cleaning aid. The acidity in the juice helps to break down difficult to clean spots. It can add shine to copper pots and pans.
4. Helps to get rid of weeds
Avoid chemicals and use leftover pickle juice in your garden to get rid of weeds. The acidity of the brine keeps the weeds away, and it is also pet-friendly.
Side effects of pickle juice
Drinking pickle juice can also lead to some side effects.
Drinking pickle juice can lead to acidity. It may be particularly harmful to people with a history of gout.
Pickle juice is high in sodium, which may lead to water retention and bloating. Dill pickles contain higher levels of sodium. They can lead to more bloating.
3. High blood pressure
High sodium content in pickle juice can cause high blood pressure. If you have been prescribed low sodium-diet for any medical condition, you must avoid pickle juice.
4. Digestive issues
Drinking excessive amounts of pickle juice can lead to problems like flatulence, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Pickle juice is the brine solution in which cucumbers are pickled. It also contains some amounts of vinegar. It is a rich source of electrolytes, probiotics, antioxidants, and nutrients. The word pickle comes from the Dutch word ‘pekel’ which means ‘salt’ or ‘brine.’ Pickle juice provides many health benefits. It keeps you hydrated, improves athletic performance, controls muscle cramps, relieves stomach ache, alleviates PMS symptoms, controls blood sugar, helps in weight loss, cures hangovers, lowers cholesterol and improves bad breath.
It may cause some side effects like acidity, high blood pressure, swelling, and digestive issues in some people. So, the next time you buy pickles, don’t throw away pickle juice, save it and use it to improve your health.