By: Alexa Erickson | Updated: Oct. 01, 2019
If you’re pouring your leftover pickle juice down the drain, you could be missing out on the brine’s healthy benefits—says science.
Pickles and other fermented foods boast some pretty impressive health benefits. But you have to use some caution: If you have high blood pressure or are sodium-sensitive, salt can drive up your blood pressure levels, and pickles and pickle brine are loaded with sodium that could do more harm than good.
First, a primer. There are two types of pickles: naturally fermented pickles and the ones that are preserved in vinegar. Both versions convey benefits, but they do differ.
Pickle juice’s high sodium content—in both the fermented and vinegar versions—may be beneficial for helping the body retain fluids. This is important when you’re working out for longer periods of time—an hour or more—since losing fluids through sweating can cause dehydration and leave your muscles cramping.
A study from Brigham Young University found that pickle juice was more beneficial for alleviating muscle cramping in male participants than plain H2O. For the study, male participants rode bikes for 30-minute sessions, with 5 minutes of rest between. When the researchers could document that the men’s fluids were depleted by 3 percent—which qualifies as mild dehydration—they electrically stimulated a nerve in the ankle to provoke a foot cramp. The researchers found that pickle juice could relieve the cramp about 37 percent faster than the men who drank water.
With gut issues on the rise in recent years, fermented foods have garnered a lot of attention for their probiotic potential. If you can find fermented pickles (they’ll be in the refrigerated section, unlike the vinegar-cured pickles on the shelf), drinking the juice might be helpful for alleviating digestive issues. The probiotics in pickle juice may support the growth and healthy balance of good bacteria and flora that keep your gut healthy, according to a 2018 study in the journal Foods. One note: You can get the same benefit from other fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
According to a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, pickle juice may help aid in your weight loss goals thanks to the main component in vinegar—which is acetic acid. The researchers found that the acid seems to interfere with the body’s ability to digest starch. This interference results in less starch being broken down into calories in the bloodstream.
Having high blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, along with a variety of other chronic diseases. Vinegar has been found to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels by improving the body’s response to insulin and dramatically reducing blood sugar levels after meals.
One study, published in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that drinking a small serving of vinegar before a meal works to stabilize a person’s blood sugar levels after eating for people with type 2 diabetes.
This one falls under the old wives’ tale thanks to the lack of scientific evidence, but some people swear by drinking a small glass of pickle juice as a fail-safe cure for hiccups.
You can try the remedy out next time you have hiccups by gulping down half a teaspoon of salty pickle juice every few seconds until the hiccups subside.
In the same way that the juice may help ease muscle cramps from exercise, some women say that it can help with menstrual cramps. While the theory makes sense, it hasn’t been effectively studied (and it’s just one of several unusual tricks for dealing with menstrual pain).
Want to give it a try? Some women swear by drinking a half of a cup of dill pickle juice to ease cramps.
Medically reviewed by Maureen Namkoong, MS, RD, on August 18, 2019
Originally Published: https://www.thehealthy.com/nutrition/health-benefits-of-pickle-juice/