Pickles are a popular snack, side dish, and condiment. But did you know that pickles are also a healthy part of your diet? There are many different pickle recipes out there, but each version has its own healthy benefits depending on the ingredients that went into the pickle and the method used for pickling, whether fermented or packed with vinegar. Pickles are great for most diets because not only are they low in calories, and low in fat or fat-free, many versions are also low in sugar.
Pickles are also a healthy edition to your diet for other reasons. Pickles, being made from cucumbers or other vegetables, are high in fiber which is necessary for digestive health and fighting cancer. The cucumbers and other vegetables also contain antioxidants, which fight free-radicals, and depending on the veggie, can be a good source of calcium, magnesium, and iron. The recommendation by most health professionals is to eat five servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Eating pickles is a great way to get a daily serving or two of your five-a-day!
The spices with which pickles are made are also healthy. For example, dill and garlic, both of which are popular in pickles, both have the ability to regulate bacterial growth. Dill and other spices also contain flavonoids, which is a healing addition to your diet. Mustard seeds are known to be good for digesting foods and even turmeric powder has medicinal properties and is believed to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fermented pickles also have good bacteria that can control harmful intestinal microbes. When pickles are fermented, lactic acid is created. This acid helps to lower fat in the bloodstream, improve circulation, and lower high blood pressure. It also helps to support a healthy digestive system, reintroduces good bacteria into the intestines, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, and is beneficial for diabetics. In fact, one study even found that eating fermented products regularly contributed to lower rates of skin problems, asthma, and auto-immune disorders.
Many pickles are made with vinegars. This healthy liquid has several positive properties in addition to its tangy taste. Vinegar is known to boost the immune system, ease digestive disorders, and can break down calcium deposits in a person’s joints. In addition, vinegar is known to decrease high blood pressure, and help treat urinary infections. It is even said to re-mineralize your bones, balance your blood pH, and fight infection. Vinegar is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It inhibits the growth of the E.coli bacteria, and when used in conjunction with salt, which is common in pickling, the anti-bacterial properties are amplified.
Another common item used for pickling is apple cider vinegar. It has several additional health benefits as well. Not only does it contain several minerals, thirty-plus nutrients, and pectin, which is good for your heart, it also contains several essential amino acids, all of which are a great addition to your diet.
Pickles can be a tasty snack eaten with the confidence that you’re having something healthy at the same time – what could be better? Hey, even Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and Cleopatra believed in the health benefits of the pickle, and Hippocrates utilized it for one of the first medicines! So if you ever needed a reason to eat more pickles, now you have it.
Copyright 2006 Jonathan Heusman
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