Hey Angels and Alphas,
The summer time is right around the corner, and this means harvests such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini, will be here at our grocery stores and tables. They are some of the most tempting pickled foods out there.
However, pickling foods isn’t an easy task – you need pickling liquid, salt, and other materials so you can add preservation and flavor.
Pickled foods have been long regarded as superfoods in the fitness and wellness community because of their ability to help your gut bacteria thrive. One single spoonful of sauerkraut will contain more probiotics than an entire probiotic supplement. Needless to say, that amount of healthy ingredients in excess are sure to produce some incredible results.
And since many people are advised to eat less sodium, and pickled foods are recommended for their gut health benefits, the question remains – are pickled foods good for you?
Here’s what you should know.
#1 LOW CALORIES, LOW FAT, HIGH SODIUM
Pickled foods are generally low in calories and free of fat. They’re chock-full of vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, and so much more. They’re also rich in sodium.
And especially if you’re an endurance athlete, sodium can help (because a few small studies have shown sodium to reduce muscle cramps.)
The one major downside to pickled foods is, you guessed it, that same high sodium content. Let’s take sour pickles for example – one of them contains up to 800 milligrams of sodium, and that’s more than 1/3 of the recommended daily intake for adults.
That’s why if you’re someone with a chronic condition or someone with high blood pressure/heart disease, you might be better of skipping high-sodium foods, including pickles. Another potential downside is the bloating caused by sodium (that promotes water retention.) Some people might be more sensitive to pickled foods than others, but as a general rule of thumb, avoid them if you have a problem with high sodium intakes.
#2 THEY PROMOTE GUT HEALTH
When fermented in a salty solution for an extended period, they become an amazing source of probiotics – the “good” bacteria that help support your gut health and immune system, and are directly linked to cognitive health and weight loss.
The healthy bacteria in your gut will offer all sorts of health perks, from better skin to increased cardiovascular health, and cultured foods such as pickles are teeming with the lovely little healthy bacteria. There is one caveat though: according to experts, pickles fermented in vinegar will have less of a probiotic effect, so for maximum wellness benefits, you have to choose pickles fermented in a brine of salt and water.
#3 HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Pickles contain natural antioxidants that are usually found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and while the process of cooking them can break down some of these heat-sensitive nutrients, the fermentation process is likely to preserve their nutritional profile and antioxidant power.
Experts also note that pickle juice — the brine — boasts incredible amounts of the free radical-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants C and E.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER…
The fermentation process that fermented foods go through leads to the creation of substances that help the bacteria in your gut keep you healthy and keep your immune system in check. With that said, fermented foods are also likely to be low in fat and low in calories due to the fact that they’re still veggies – even though their nutritional profile is slightly mixed up.
While it’s always a great option to learn that our favorite foods are good for us too, we have to remember that pickles are also super high in sodium. While you can feel free to nosh on those delicious veggies on the regular, just remember to make sure not to overdo it in order to keep your salt intake in healthy levels.