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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- stomach cramps
- other digestive ailments
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.
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.
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