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Is Pickle Juice Good for You?

The idea of a sugar-free sports drink sounds great—but first, let’s look at the science.

By Sam Silverman May 17, 2019

Pickles are a household staple and can be found in the depths of many refrigerators. The juicy spears typically accompany your burger and fries to add some salty zest to your meal. But you may have never wondered about the nutritional benefits of this crunchy snack—or the salty juice it’s cured in.

Recently, though, pickle juice has been touted as a nutritional superfood and a low-calorie sports drink. You can even buy it by the bottle—sans pickles. Nutritional information varies by brand and recipe, but most pickle juice contains less than 20 calories (and zero grams of fat) per 3.5-ounce serving.

However, pickle juice is also high in sodium: A 3.5-ounce serving can contain roughly 500 mg of sodium, if not more. That’s a large slice of the recommended daily intake (2300 mg) for the mineral.

Sodium can be a benefit to some people and in some circumstances, but it can also contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. For that reason, it should be consumed in moderation, Megan Roosevelt, RDN and founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com, tells Health. “You may want skip pickle juice if you’re following a low sodium diet, have a history of gout, or previous negative experience drinking pickle juice,” she says.

Besides being a salty and savory treat, pickle juice may also have health benefits. Here are five reasons it just might be good for you.

Athletic performance

Pickle juice has been called a natural Gatorade, and it’s been utilized by athletes looking to cut down on sugary sports drinks. It is true that athletes might benefit from pickle juice because of its high sodium content, Cynthia Sass, RD, Health contributing nutrition editor, tells Health.

When you sweat, you lose fluid and electrolytes—including sodium. “Pickle juice can be a very good source of sodium, and some athletes like the taste,” Sass says. But the flavor can be intense, she adds, and since people will probably drink a small amount of pickle juice at a time, it should not be your only method of hydration to replace electrolytes.

Muscle cramps

A 2010 study from North Dakota State University found that muscle cramps could be resolved in a minute and a half with 1.5 oz of pickle juice for every 100 pounds of body weight. The researchers couldn’t say for sure why pickle juice had this effect on cramping, but they hypothesized that it triggered a reflex in the mouth that sent a signal to the nerves.

It’s also not clear what component of pickle juice is responsible for this potential benefit. “Some research supports the idea that the vinegar in pickle juice may help with cramping, rather than its sodium content,” Sass says, “but it hasn’t been well studied.”

Hydration

Pickles are very high in sodium, which can be great for increasing hydration before and after a workout. According to Sass, water is attracted to sodium—so when you replace the sodium lost via sweat, you retain more water as a result.

Relief from stomach aches

Pickle juice could be a natural remedy for stomach pain. “The vinegar in pickle juice may be beneficial for reducing bloating and boosting levels of good bacteria in the digestive tract,” Sass says. This is because some stomach pain is caused by low acidity, which the addition of vinegar can restore.

Hangover helper

Pickle juice might also be the answer to your hangover needs. “The main component of pickle juice that may support a hangover is the water and sodium, which help restore electrolytes and bring your body back to balance,” says Roosevelt.

Of course, not over-indulging in the first place is always the best way to avoid feeling sick the next morning. But if you do find yourself under the weather after a night of too many drinks, a sip from the pickle jar may help you feel better faster.

Originally Published: https://www.health.com/food/pickle-juice-good-for-you

The Science Behind Everyone’s New Obsession With Pickle Juice

By Lana Bandoim | Forbes Contributor | Sep 21, 2018

From deep-fried pickles to dill pickle chips, pickles in different varieties are showing up on more menus and grocery store shelves. At the Natural Products Expo East, the trend continued this year with the Pickle Juice Company featuring pickle juice sports drinks. There are many reasons why this salty trend is not going away soon.

Walk through the aisles of today’s grocery store, and you will probably see pickles featured in several places, in addition to the canned goods section. You can pick up a bag of pickle popcorn, grab some dill pickle chips and maybe try the frozen pickle pops. Now, pickle juice is growing in popularity, and even Sonic released a pickle juice slush. You no longer have to purchase a jar of pickles to get the juice since it is sold on its own in a variety of forms. You can find pickle juice sports drinks, shots and alcohol.

By 2020, Statista’s prediction, based on U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), is that 245.56 million Americans will eat pickles. Likewise, Technavio’s report shows that the global pickles market will continue to grow and will have a value of $12.74 billion by 2020. In the United States, it is expected to have a value of $6.70 billion by 2020.

The reasons why you crave salty foods, like pickles, can vary. Similar to sugar, salt can be addictive, and researchers at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health found the brain pathway responsible for the craving. They discovered that a specific circuit, which is part of the brain’s opioid system, can also make you want salt. In addition, you can build a tolerance to salty foods, so you need more of them to activate the reward center of the brain.

Some other common reasons for craving pickles include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or Addison’s disease. Pregnant women often want pickles because nausea and morning sickness can also make them dehydrated. All of these medical conditions can make you turn to salty foods or pickle juice as a way to restore the electrolyte imbalance in the body.

There is a positive side to the current pickle juice obsession. For years, athletes have been drinking pickle juice to relieve muscle cramps after exercising, and it is one of the multiple health benefits. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that pickle juice works better than water at reducing muscle cramps. Another study showed that pickle juice could lower blood sugar spikes in healthy adults. In addition, pickle juice has a variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E.

Here is another reason why you may have a hard time resisting pickle juice: Your digestive system benefits from it, so you feel better after drinking it. The juice contains vinegar, which is fermented, and good for your gut. Researchers also found that pickle juice can slow down gastric emptying.

If you do not have any health problems and can tolerate salt, then do not feel guilty about drinking pickle juice in moderation.

Originally Published: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lanabandoim/2018/09/21/the-science-behind-everyones-new-obsession-with-pickle-juice/

Drinking Pickle Juice: 10 Reasons It’s All the Rage

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on May 3, 2016 — Written by Alli Rainey

At first, drinking pickle juice might sound kind of gross. But there are several reasons to consider it.

Athletes have been sipping this briny beverage for years. Experts didn’t know all the reasons why pickle juice was good to drink after exercising. They just knew that it seemed to help relieve cramps.

They were right. It appears to help with muscle cramps, plus more. Here’s a look at 10 healthy benefits of drinking pickle juice.

1. It soothes muscle cramps

Dehydrated men experienced faster relief from muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

About 1/3 cup of pickle juice is all it took to have this effect. Pickle juice relieved cramps more than drinking the same amount of water. It also helped more than drinking nothing at all.

This could be because the vinegar in pickle juice may help with rapid pain relief. Vinegar may help stop nerve signals that make tired muscles cramp.

2. It helps you stay hydrated

For most people, drinking water for hydration after a workout is fine. Water is probably all you need if you’re exercising moderately or for an hour or less.

But it’s a different story if you’re exercising hard, exercising for longer than an hour at a time, or exercising in hot climates.

Drinking something with sodium and potassium can help you get hydrated faster. Sodium is an electrolyte that you lose when you sweat. Potassium is another electrolyte lost in sweat.

Pickle juice contains a lot of sodium. It also has some potassium. After a sweaty or lengthy exercise session, sipping some pickle juice can help your body recover to its normal electrolyte levels more quickly.

Watching your sodium intake or on a low-sodium diet? Be sure to check with your doctor and dietitian about pickle juice before drinking it.

3. It’s a fat-free recovery aid

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably not too psyched about consuming high-calorie sports drinks.

It’s still a good plan to replace lost electrolytes after exercising hard, for a long time, or in hot weather. Plus, if your muscles are cramping, you’ll probably want relief as fast as possible.

Pickle juice to the rescue! Pickle juice contains no fat, but it can have some calories. It can have anywhere from zero to 100 calories per 1-cup serving. The amount of calories depends on what’s in the pickling solution.

4. It won’t bust your budget

If you already eat pickles regularly, you don’t have to spend money on sports drinks. Even if you don’t eat pickles, you can still choose pickle juice as a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive workout beverages.

You can also buy commercially prepared pickle juices marketed as sports drinks. They cost more than drinking what’s left in your pickle jar when all the pickles are gone. The upside is that you’ll know from reading the nutrition label what you’re getting in each serving.

5. It contains antioxidants

Pickle juice has significant amounts of vitamins C and E, two key antioxidants. Antioxidants help shield your body from damaging molecules called free radicals. Everyone gets exposed to free radicals, so having plenty of antioxidants in your diet is a good idea.

Vitamins C and E also help boost your immune system function, among other roles they play in your body.

6. It may support your weight loss efforts

Pickle juice contains lots of vinegar. Consuming a little bit of vinegar every day may help you lose weight, as reported in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.

After 12 weeks, study participants who had consumed either about 1/2 ounce or 1 ounce of vinegar daily had lost more weight and fat than those who hadn’t consumed any vinegar.

7. It helps control blood sugar levels

A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research showed the effects of consuming a small serving of vinegar before a meal. The vinegar helped regulate blood sugar levels after the meal in people with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and obese.

Well-regulated blood sugar levels help keep you healthy. Lots of people have type 2 diabetes and don’t know it. Unregulated blood sugar can cause serious health problems such as blindness, heart damage, and kidney damage.

8. It boosts gut health

The vinegar in pickle juice can help your belly stay healthy, too. Vinegar is a fermented food. Fermented foods are good for your digestive system. They encourage the growth and healthy balance of good bacteria and flora in your gut.

9. Dill is healthy

Choose dill pickle juice for more potential benefits. Dill has quercetin in it. Quercetin has cholesterol-lowering properties. A study published in Cholesterol found that dill lowered cholesterol in hamsters. It may have a similar effect in humans.

The study’s authors also mentioned that dill has many traditional medicinal uses. These include treating:

  • indigestion
  • stomach cramps
  • gas
  • other digestive ailments

10. It sweetens your breath

Even if it makes your lips pucker when you drink it, a little bit of pickle juice might make for sweeter breath.

Bacteria in your mouth can cause bad breath. Both dill and vinegar have antibacterial properties. This potent combination may help freshen your breath after you drink pickle juice.

Next steps

Instead of dumping that leftover liquid from your pickle jar down the drain, consider saving it for future use.

You might even find yourself enjoying the salty flavor. Things can taste differently after you exercise than they do normally. So even if pickle juice doesn’t sound amazing right now, maybe it will hit the spot after your next workout.

Even if you don’t ever love the taste, you may end up deciding that drinking pickle juice is worth it for the health benefits.

Originally Published: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/drinking-pickle-juice

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