Pickles: You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. But regardless of your personal taste buds, there’s no denying the dill trend.
Not only do pickles look great alongside a burger and fries, but they also happen to be good for your health. Pickles are made by fermenting cucumbers in a brine of salt, vinegar, and sometimes seasonings like garlic, onion, or sugar. Over the course of a few days or weeks, bacteria on the surface of the cucumbers converts its naturally-occurring sugars into lactic acid, which gives the pickles their sour taste, preserves them, and kills off bad bacteria, says Maggie Michalczyk, M.S., R.D.N. Then, voila, you’ve got the tangy pickle that comes with your favorite deli sandwich.
Check out the following perks pickles have to offer, and you’ll be stocking up on a jar of crunchy dills in no time.
1. Pickles Contain Vitamin K
This vitamin is crucial for a number of body processes, like blood clotting, our bones’ absorption and use of calcium, and keeping that calcium out of our arteries. For just four calories, your average pickle spear provides about 14 micrograms (15 percent of your daily value) of vitamin K.
2. Pickles Have Probiotic Powers
“Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria that help to strengthen our gut and immune system,” says Michalczyk. These healthy bacteria, known as probiotics, maintain balance in the gastrointestinal system so our body can digest food properly and absorb the nutrients we need.
Michalczyk recommends incorporating a serving of fermented foods, like pickles, into your diet a few times a week.
3. Pickles Are Blood Sugar-Friendly
Some research suggests that vinegar can lessen the effect certain foods have on our blood sugar. One study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for example, found that healthy people who consumed vinegar alongside white bread experienced significantly lower blood sugar spikes and felt more satiated than those who just ate white bread.
Research suggests vinegar’s effect on blood sugar may be especially helpful for those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, who need to take extra care to control their blood sugar, says Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D.
To reap any potential benefits of the vinegar in pickles, pair a spear or two with sandwiches, says Michalcyzk. She also likes to add them to salads, fish (like herring), dips, and homemade relish.
4. Pickles Round Out Your Daily Diet
“Since pickles are in fact cucumbers and cucumbers are vegetables, pickles contribute to your daily recommended vegetable intake,” says Michalczyk. Score!
A single pickle spear counts as about a quarter-cup of vegetables. When you can’t stand to even look another lettuce leaf, or want to incorporate more veggies into your snack, pickles have your back.
5. Pickles Replenish Electrolytes And Boost Hydration
You’ve probably never considered snacking on a pickle after a tough workout—but you should! (Especially if you sweat a lot.) When we sweat, our body loses water and electrolytes (minerals that play a number of roles in your body), so you need to replenish them through food and drink.
“Pickles are loaded with water and salt [from the pickling mixture],” says Rizzo. The salt helps you replenish the electrolytes you lost and hold onto that water.
Pickles are also great if you’ve spent lots of time in the sun or heat. “On a hot day, your body needs extra fluids and salt to stay hydrated, and along with plenty of water, pickles help do the trick,” she says.
Pin this infographic to spread the pickle love: