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The Pickle Quandary: Good or bad for you?
The pickle quandary: Good or bad for you?

The Pickle Quandary: Good or bad for you?

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Nutrition, Wellness

Pickles – a lot of us love them all of the time, and some may crave them some of the time (with ice cream even). Peter certainly liked pickles when he picked a peck of them! But are they good or bad for you? The answer isn’t a simple one – hence, the pickle quandary. Let’s take a deeper dive into the pickle jar and look at the pros and cons of eating this briny vegetable. 


    You probably know that pickles start as cucumbers, so they have few to no calories and a high-water content. Plus, they are fat-free. If you’re trying to lose weight, pickles make a crunchy snack that can help you feel satisfied without adding a lot of calories or fat to your diet. 

    People need vitamin K for strong bones, improved blood clotting properties and other health benefits, like preventing calcium buildup in arteries. One dill pickle spear can provide nearly 20% of recommended daily dose of vitamin K. 

    When pickles are made using fermentation, they contain probiotics that can help to maintain a healthy digestive system, just like yogurt and sauerkraut. How do you know if the pickles at the grocery store are fermented? It’s easy – you’ll find them in the refrigerated section, where they need to be kept to maintain fermentation. Pickles in the condiment aisle are made using other pickling methods. 


      Pickles are extremely high in sodium, due to the brining process of pickling cucumbers. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium pickle contains 750 mg of sodium. To put that in perspective, the recommended sodium an adult should have daily is less than 2,300 mg. One medium pickle can be 33% of your sodium intake. You are also getting sodium in many other ways, as it is prevalent in processed foods you consume each day. 

      Why is a lot of sodium bad for you? It can raise your blood pressure, and for those who already have high blood pressure, this can be a significant concern. High blood pressure can contribute to heart attacks and stroke. High levels of sodium intake may also lead to development of kidney stones.  

      Are sweet pickles your jam? These can have some of the same pros as dill pickles. However, the obvious con to a sweet pickle is the amount of sugar, which varies among the different types of sweet pickles. If you have diabetes, sweet pickles are typically not a good option for you, unless you are careful to include them in your carbohydrate count for the day.  

      “While there may be health benefits to eating pickles, there can also be reasons to avoid them in your daily diet,” said Sarah Brauning, registered dietitian at Genesis HealthCare System. “If you love pickles, it’s best to check with your doctor or a registered dietitian to see what he or she recommends for you.” 


      Sources: USDA.gov; CDC.gov 


      Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.