Pickling as a way of preserving foods or adding the unique tangy taste is a widespread practice that dates back to unwritten history. While it might help you get trace amounts of nutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, you must remember that they are high in sodium and may risk raising your blood pressure.
Traveling in the US and most other world countries, you will definitely find pickles as part of the food store items. They are not only healthy and packed with nutrients but are also tangy and add flavor to food. Pickled cucumbers and pickle juices are the commonest and may help fasten weight loss, supply the body with antioxidants, and keep your gut healthy because of the live cultures contained in them. Still, we have had enough precautions about excess salt intake, primarily electrolytic imbalance and high blood pressures. As such, you may wonder, are pickles healthy and a good food choice for you? Peer into this article to know everything about pickles and pickling, and determine whether you will take the next dill or pass out of that pickle juice.
The basics about pickling
Frit things first, let’s understand what pickles are and what pickling means. Pickles are often mistaken for pickled cucumbers since they are the commonest pickled products. However, it is good to know that you can pickle everything, from fruits to vegetables and even meat. Simply put, pickling is a food preparation or preservation method of dipping fruits or vegetables (like cucumbers) in brine (salty solution) or acidic solutions and leaving the contents to ferment over an extended period, resulting in the tangy taste. You can also do Lacto-fermentation or use vinegar (preferably the unpasteurized versions) and still pickle your vegetables. Pickled cucumbers are some of the hotels’ and homes’ best recipes, but you can also pick broccoli, carrots, lettuce, meat, or other fruits and vegetables.
Pickles: a rich nutritional profile
The nutritional profile is an incredibly important factor in determining the contributions any food elements add to the body. Looking at the nutritional profile, there is a lot to be desired, hence the popularity of these food and juices. Of course, the profiles will vary widely depending on the fruits or vegetables used and the brands, but some basic aspects remain the same. For instance, pickled cucumbers and other fruit pickles are majorly made up of water. They also have large concentrations of vitamins since the salty solution in which they are made filters out water, concentrating the vitamins. As such, a typical whole dill, say a 35 g heavy spear has 4 kcal, 0.2 g of protein, 0.3 g of fiber, 0.4 g of sugar, and 0.8 g of carbohydrates. You expect this to change slightly depending on the brand.
Pickles are packed with nutrients
As an extension of pickle’s nutritional profile, we must mention that pickling results in nutrient concentration. In as much as pickles and pickle juices only have fair amounts of fat and protein, they are loaded with vitamins and micronutrients. For instance, an average-sized whole dill discussed above also has the following;
Are all pickles fermented?
Pickles are called pickles because fruits and vegetables are allowed to soak up in a solution, preferably brine or an acidic solution, for some time. This shows that pickles can be prepared through fermentation, but not necessarily. As such, you can find fermented and unfermented pickles, with the latter forming the majority of pickles at the food stores and restaurant menus.
The unfermented pickles incorporate vinegar in their recipe to produce the tangy taste for which they are revered. Both fermented and unfermented kinds of vinegar are used in pickling, although the former yields more health benefits because of the live cultures present in them. For instance, raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar boasts ‘mother culture,’ which supplies its live bacteria. It’s noteworthy that the store-sold pickles are mostly prepared from unfermented vinegar, yet they are tangy, and you would not even tell that they are unfermented. Such pickles are easy to prepare, and you can do the whole process at home.
Fermented pickles are healthier
Although fermented and unfermented pickles are both tangy and uniquely flavorful, you might want to go a fermented dill the next you want to pickle to reap more health benefits. Remember that fermentation is what makes yogurt a bearable drink for lactose-intolerant fellows, and the same process makes kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, etc., to be revered in the food industry, but why?
Fermentation is greatly appreciated in nutrition because it adds probiotics to foods. Probiotics are live microorganisms or foods rich in these microorganisms that feed the gut microbiota. The gut has bad and good bacteria, and probiotics help keep this balance. Besides, they help restore the balance when a disease or antibiotics cause a shift in bacterial concentration. Probiotics have many other roles, including boosting overall health, scaling blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and boosting insulin sensitivity. Isn’t this a reason enough to convince you to go for fermented pickles or prepare them at home? They are worth the benefits.
Should you pickle all the time?
While pickles make great tangy foods, you need to tone down your frequency of eating them. Preserving any food, fruits, and vegetables involves using salt, which is no exception to pickles. As you use salt, you concentrate sodium ions, which may disrupt blood pressure in excess amounts despite being critical for electrolytic balance. Imagine that taking two pickled spears adds more than 600 mg sodium, accounting for more than 25% of your sodium RDI, and might eventually raise your blood pressure.
Pickles, including dill, whole dill, spears, etc., are loved because they are tangy. Although they are a healthy way of getting vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals from fruits and vegetables, they are loaded with sodium and may ultimately raise your blood pressure. Still, you can enjoy them in moderation, or better off, prepare your pickles at home and control salt amounts.