Most people, when finishing the pickles in the jar, throw away the remaining pickle juice. Not many know that pickle juice can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet! Pickle juice is derived from pickles, which are actually cucumbers that have been soaked in brine and allowed to ferment. This changes the flavor and appearance of the cucumber, resulting in what the world knows as pickles. Commonly known as gherkins, most pickles are scientifically known as Cucumis anguria, a slightly less common variation of the normal garden cucumber.
Pickle juice is the brine that is left behind after you empty a jar of pickles but some companies also package and sell the juice by itself due to its recently discovered health benefits. The juice is extremely sour and acidic and might cause your mouth to pucker up. Because of its unique taste, pickle juice can provide a delicious bite to many different meals from pickleback shots and a cocktail ingredient to a bread fortifier and a drizzled topping for meat dishes. The high levels of vitamin C, sodium, calcium, potassium, vinegar and calcium chloride are the primary ingredients of this juice that are responsible for offering unexpected health benefits.
Benefits of Pickle Juice
Some of the most notable health benefits of pickle juice include its ability to keep you hydrated, soothe muscle cramps, eliminate oxidative stress, aid weight loss, manage diabetes, optimize digestion, prevent hangovers, aid sleep and help you recover from physical activity or exercise.
One of the main ingredients in the brine for pickles is vinegar and is, thus, a major part of pickle juice. Studies have shown that intake of vinegar suppresses blood sugar levels. This, in turn, prevents blood sugar spikes that can be very dangerous for diabetic patients and those at risk of developing this disorder.
Although the exact reason is unknown, it has been shown that drinking small amounts of vinegar can stimulate the metabolism and aid in weight-loss efforts, preventing as much fat deposition in the body. Furthermore, the number of calories in pickle juice is low, ranging from 0-100 calories per serving, depending on the preparation method.
You may not think of pickle juice being an antioxidant-rich substance but with notable levels of vitamin E and vitamin C, this juice becomes an excellent source of antioxidants, which can fight back against free radicals in the body and prevent oxidative stress. This can lower your risk of cancer and help prevent other chronic diseases.
If you are an active person or one who tends to sweat a lot, drinking pickle juice can be a fast and easy way to increase your electrolyte levels. These two minerals are lost in large amounts when we sweat, so they need to be replaced, which pickle juice can do very easily. The sodium in this acidic juice is more readily accessible and usable by the body than normal salt, making it work fast to relieve cramps and replace electrolytes, which can retain water in the body.
Reduces Muscle Cramps
Vinegar is a key component in pickle juice and can suppress the pain and discomfort associated with muscle cramps and spasms. Again, since the sodium in pickle juice is in the form of vinegar and calcium chloride, it works faster to prevent cramps, making this a popular drink for athletes and runners to eliminate cramps.
Any fermented foods are excellent for digested food, as they can improve the bacterial balance in the gut, which determines the efficiency of digestion and your overall gut health. Pickle juice, which is a fermented beverage, can flush toxins from the gut and stimulate digestive movement.
Many people swear by pickle juice’s ability to eliminate hangovers quickly, which is largely due to its high levels of sodium and potassium, the two electrolytes that become seriously depleted when you drink too much alcohol. Replacing those key minerals can eliminate many of the common symptoms following a night of drinking.
Improves Sleep Quality
Many people suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, which is the result of muscle spasms that can disrupt sleep and make it very difficult to fall asleep. Caused by imbalances in electrolytes and muscle control, a shot of this juice before bed can settle those spasms and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Side Effects of Pickle Juice
While pickle juice can deliver a number of health benefits, there are some potential risks to drinking an excessive amount of this juice, such as abdominal pain, bloating, possible kidney damage and elevated blood pressure.
Anecdotal reports say that drinking an excess amount of pickle juice, particularly if you aren’t used to consuming this beverage, can be hazardous to your health. More than 4-6 ounces of pickle juice at a time can cause excess bloating, cramping and excess flatulence, so only drink this juice in moderation.
There is no denying that pickle juice is extremely salty, which means that the kidneys will need to filter out that excess sodium to maintain normal water balance and function throughout the body. If you already suffer from kidney problems or kidney stones, speak to your doctor before adding pickle juice to your diet in a major way.
Again, a high level of sodium isn’t the best characteristic of any food, as it can increase blood pressure, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular complications, as well as heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease. If you already have heart issues, consume this juice in limited quantities, only with your doctor’s approval.
How to Consume Pickle Juice
Pickle juice isn’t like normal juice and is a highly acidic and sour liquid. Because of such characteristics, most people won’t want to start their day with having a tall glass of pickle juice. However, pickle juice can be consumed in a number of unique ways depending on how much you like the flavor and whether you want to use it for medicinal or culinary purposes. Some of the ways of consuming this juice are listed below;
- You can re-use the brine to pickle other foods, such as eggs or other vegetables.
- Add it to macaroni and cheese, barbecue sauce or boiled potatoes for extra flavor.
- Add pickle juice to cocktails, such as Bloody Mary’s or Micheladas.
- Use the juice to poach fish or add some zing to a meatloaf recipe.
- Sprinkle some pickle juice over meat and fish recipes that are under-spiced.
- You can fortify bread with this juice to make your own Jewish deli bread.
- Take a “pickleback” shot – which typically follows a shot of whiskey as a chaser.
- Add some pickle juice to a vegetable smoothie or shake for an acidic bite.