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Pickle Juice: Is It Good for You?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 29, 2020

If you’re a pickle lover, then you might enjoy drinking pickle juice. This briny, vinegar-rich liquid has been a long-time cult favorite for both its taste and its health benefits.

Pickles are believed to date back more than 4,000 years to Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians soaked cucumbers in acidic brine as a preservation method. They also found the resulting taste to be pretty delicious. Over the centuries, claims about the health benefits of pickles have ranged from preserving beauty to making soldiers stronger.

Drinking pickle juice has become popular in recent decades for counteracting muscle cramps. Some scientists believe that a mouth reflex triggered by the juice sends signals to the nerves to stop the cramps. To find out whether these claims are worth their salt, it’s important to take a look at the research.

Nutrition Information

Different pickle manufacturers use different recipes for their pickling liquid. As such, it can be difficult to give an accurate breakdown of the nutrient content in a glass of pickle juice. The following measurements are given in estimated ranges.

An eright fluid ounce (one cup) serving of pickle juice contains approximately:

  • Calories: 15–200 
  • Protein: 0–1 gram
  • Fat: 0–1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 0–47 grams
  • Fiber: 0–1 gram

Similarly, the vitamins and minerals present in pickle juice vary between recipes and manufacturers. The two most common nutrients found in pickle juice are sodium and potassium. Pickle juice also contains small amounts of calcium, and magnesium.

Potential Health Benefits of Pickle Juice

Not all of the possible pickle juice health benefits have been tested. However, the research that has been conducted has produced some fairly encouraging results.

Muscle Cramp Relief

One study conducted with 10 participants showed a more significant reduction in the duration of muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice versus deionized water.

Blood Sugar Control

Vinegar has long been known to support healthy blood sugar. Researchers have concluded that frozen pickle juice popsicles eaten at mealtimes may reduce blood sugar spikes.

Gut Health

Pickle juice can contain large amounts of lactobacillus, one of several healthy gut bacteria. This bacterium is one of many probiotics, which are beneficial to your overall health. However, most commercially available pickle juice has been pasteurized, meaning the bacteria it once contained are now inactive. So, it’s likely that most pickle juice won’t have a major impact on your gut health.

Potential Risks of Pickle Juice

While pickle juice offers some health benefits, it may also pose some risks. Most of these risks are tied to the extremely high levels of sodium that pickle juice contains.

Hypertension

Those who have or are at risk for hypertension (high blood pressure) should avoid drinking pickle juice. Diets high in sodium are widely recognized to raise blood pressure.

Worsening of Stomach Ulcers

Eating acidic foods is not likely to give you stomach ulcers. However, for a person who already has a stomach ulcer, highly acidic foods like pickle juice can cause pain and discomfort. Avoiding pickle juice is advisable for people with existing stomach ulcers.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Chicago Health: “Eating to fight peptic ulcers.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Can Drinking Pickle Juice Help Your Acid Reflux Symptoms?”

International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training: “Athletic Trainers’ Perceptions of Pickle Juice’s Effects on Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps.”

Journal of Athletic Training: “Electrolyte and Plasma Changes After Ingestion of Pickle Juice, Water and a Common Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Solution.”

Journal of Gastroenterology: “Probiotics and immunity.”

Medical News Today: “Everything you need to know about pickle juice.”

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: “Reflex Inhibition of Electrically Induced Muscle Cramps in Hypohydrated Humans.”

MyFitnessPal: “Generic - Pickle Juice.”

Natural Beverages: “Natural Fermented Beverages.”

North Carolina State University: “Sensory and Instrumental Analysis of Pasteurized Dill Pickles Made from Acidified, Bulk Stored Cucumbers.”

Nutrients: “Sodium Intake and Hypertension.”

Nutritionix: “Pickle Juice.”

The FASEB Journal: “Frozen pickle juice reduces mealtime glycemia in healthy adults.”

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