Warm weather is here, which for many people means more BBQs, cookouts, block parties, beach days, crawfish boils, and any other excuse to get together with loved ones and chow down on delicious food. And while each event brings its own unique characteristics of cuisine, there’s one common denominator among most summer-inspired events: pickles. This salty snack goes hand in hand with your favorite fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, or deli subs. They’re also easy to grab and take on the go. Even though they’re made from cucumbers and seem to be a nice low-calorie snack, many people still wonder if pickles are actually good for you.
Pickles are made with a simple process of taking cucumber and preserving it in some sort of acidic liquid—most often vinegar—and salt. Other flavorings can be added as well. While cucumbers are the most common form of pickles, other vegetables and fruits can go through a “pickling” process as well. Because of the process it takes to make pickles, many people are left wondering how the vinegar and salt may affect the nutritional value of this snack.
According to the USDA, 100 grams of pickles will yield:
A look at the nutrition info for pickles
To help us get to the bottom of whether or not pickles are good for you, we spoke with two expert dietitians about some of their benefits and nutritional drawbacks. Read on for more info about how eating pickles can potentially affect your body—then for more healthy eating tips, check out 8 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Cucumbers.
Because pickles are made from cucumbers, the nutritional value is similar for both veggies. Because of this, Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, says that pickles can help you get a few extra veggies into your day.
“Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables every day, and since pickles are made from cucumbers, eating them on occasion as a snack can help people meet their veggie needs and sneak in some important fiber too,” explains Manaker.
7 effects of eating pickles
Getting enough vegetables in your day is crucial for a number of reasons, such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of diabetes, and even lowering the risk of certain cancers.
Even though not all pickles are technically fermented, some of them go through a fermentation process, which according to Manaker, “results in a food that contains live probiotics.” Probiotics comprise “good” bacteria that can help fight the “bad bacteria” and bring more balance to your gut microbiome. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and some brands of pickles.
“Eating fermented foods, like certain pickles, may, in turn, help support gut health and promote a balanced and diverse gut microbiota,” says Manaker.
According to Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board, the probiotics in fermented pickles can also “help reduce the risk of digestive disorders and infections.”