Are pickles good for you? Lets find out!
Pickles are made by soaking cucumbers in vinegar and brine (water and salt). This is called pickling and has been a way to preserve food for thousands of years. You can pickle any vegetable, but cucumbers are the most commonly used when we think of “pickles” in the United States.
Some pickles are fermented, the process whereby good bacteria are introduced which break down sugar and starch into acid. Fermented foods contain good-for-the-gut probiotics (bacterias). But most pickles in the grocery store today are not fermented. The ones that are, usually say “fermented” on the label to market this health benefit, and you will likely find them in the refrigerated section of the store.
Pickle nutrition facts
Pickles are a very low-calorie and low-carb food. One dill cucumber pickle has just 4 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate. Pickles are high in sodium, though. One cup (about 23 slices) of dill pickles has 1,250 mg of sodium, over 50% of the recommended maximum of 2,300 mg sodium per day. While you likely won’t find any low-sodium pickles, sodium does vary from brand to brand, so compare labels when you’re at the store. Bread-and-butter pickles are higher in sugar and calories because they’re sweet.
- Dill Cucumber Pickles – 1 spear
- Serving size: 1 dill cucumber pickle spear
- Calories: 4
- Total fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrate: 1 g
- Sugars: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Sodium: 283 mg
Aside from sodium and added sugar (in some varieties), pickles can be a tasty part of a healthy diet. Fermented pickles offer probiotics, so check the ingredients list for bacteria such as L. curvatus or L. acidophilus, for example. Good bacteria will be covered in a later blog post.
What can you make into a pickle?
Any plant you want! Pickles can be made from fruit and vegetables, even watermelons, grapes, and broccoli stems! Why? Pickles are all made the same way: mixing salt and water, or salt, vinegar, and water together with herbs and spices and a vegetable or fruit. Pickling has been a way to help foods last longer for thousands of years because it makes it harder for food to spoil.
Want to try your hand at pickling something other than a cucumber? Check your garden for a vegetable or two and try them pickled. Here are some recipes: Epicurious and Captain Create is going to be making pickles next time he lands his balloon!