Most people, when finishing the pickles in the jar, throw away the remaining pickle juice. It holds high importance as a sports drink and not many know that pickle juice can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet!
What Is Pickle Juice?
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 vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as probiotic like lactobacilli are the primary ingredients of this juice that are responsible for offering numerous health benefits. Pickle juice also contains trace amounts of carbohydrates.
Benefits of Pickle Juice
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable health benefits of pickle juice in detail.
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.
It enhances aerobic performance and acts as a thermoregulator when taken as a pre-workout drink. Athletes also consume pickle juice as a post-workout drink because it helps to regain energy and maintain the electrolyte balance in the body.
Pickle juice helps to replace sodium and potassium that are lost in large amounts when we sweat. 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. While studies show conflicting results athletes still swear by it.
Many people swear by pickle juice to eliminate hangovers quickly, which is again 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.
Fermented foods 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, stimulate digestive movement, and give relief from heartburn.
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.
Powerhouse of Antioxidants
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.
Studies have shown that intake of vinegar, one of the main ingredients in pickle brine, 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.
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.
Cures PMS Cramps
Pickle juice is commonly used as a remedy for sunburn. Applying this juice directly on sunburn is said to provide relief from sunburn.
Consuming dill pickle juice helps to lower cholesterol levels in your body. Quercetin present in dill pickle is the reason for this benefit, according to a study performed on hamsters. Scientists believe it would have similar effects on humans too.
Dill and vinegar have antibacterial properties which help to kill the bacteria responsible for bad breath. This combination has been traditionally consumed to get a refreshing breath.
Cures A Sore Throat
Traditionally, it has been used as a cure for a sore throat. Drink it or gargle with it. Salt and vinegar present in pickle juice do the magic.
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 by 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 reuse 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.
- Take a “pickleback” shot, which typically follows a shot of whiskey as a chaser.
- Add pickle juice to cocktails, such as Bloody Mary’s or micheladas.
- You can fortify bread with this juice to make your own Jewish deli bread.
- Add some pickle juice to a vegetable smoothie or shake for an acidic bite.
- 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
Uses of Pickle Juice
Pickle juice is a handy pantry staple as it can be used to:
- Kill weed: The high salt content present in pickle juice is enough to kill weeds. The mix of vinegar and salt acts as a natural pesticide for your plants.
- Clean copper utensil: To get rid of the char on any copper utensil, soak it in pickle juice, scrub it and then wash it off. The utensils will get their shine back in no time.
- Melt ice: In some cities government officials appoint people to spread pickle juice on ice-blocked roads to help melt the ice faster. Next time when you have to shovel a snow-covered driveway, make sure you pour pickle juice on the ice.
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.
Gout and low on sodium diet
Those who suffer from gout or low sodium diet are advised to stay away from pickle juice as it has a high salt content. Consuming pickle juice in either condition will only lead to an increase in the amount of salt in the body, further worsening the condition.
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.
People suffering from hypertension should avoid pickle juice. The high salt content will cause a further increase in blood pressure leading to deteriorated health.