Pickles are famous as a popular craving for pregnant women, as well as to dress up a burger or to add flavor to your favorite side dish, but what about the pickle juice? It seems that green juice is often ignored, tossed down the drain when the pickles are gone. But that’s a shame, because it’s a huge waste, considering that the juice offers a ton of health benefits.
The history of cucumbers dates back to 2030 BC when they were first brought from India to the Tigris Valley and residents were seeking a way to preserve them. Cleopatra herself is even said to have claimed that she used them to help maintain her beauty.
Delhi-based nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat told SmartCooky, “Pickle juice is mostly brine solution, but it is surprisingly an incredible source of electrolytes, antioxidants, and nutrients.” Clinical nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta added, “Pickle juice is basically salt and some minerals and can be used as a rehydrating fluid. It is vitamin and nutrient-rich only if it’s made from fermented pickles.”
So, the next time you finish off that jar of pickles, remember to stop before throwing it out and save the juice. Here’s a closer look at why…
1. It makes a great pre- and post-workout drink
Most so-called sports drinks aren’t doing your body any favors. Many contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas, along with potentially harmful ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup artificial flavors and colorings. Pickle juice, on the other hand, contains none of that, which is why so many athletes have turned to it in order to restore electrolytes – and studies have confirmed its beneficial effects.
Pickle juice is high in sodium, which helps the body retain fluids, something that’s essential for long endurance workouts, marathons, or any other type of endurance activity. If you don’t have enough fluids in your muscles when you sweat intensely, it can result in serious dehydration, cramping and post-workout discomfort. Researchers from Brigham Young University conducted a small study to find out if pickle juice could alleviate exercise-induced muscle cramp and found that it managed to relieve muscle cramping 37 percent faster than those who only drank water.
While it was a small study and experts say more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness, numerous coaches and athletes have sworn by its ability to boost athletic performance. The University of Maryland football team even passes out pickle juice to players as a post-practice refreshment, according to an article in the Washington Post.
Jaibharat explained that the calcium chloride and vinegar in pickle juice make the sodium and potassium more readily absorbed by the body, which is why many athletes swear by it. It isn’t so much the high sodium content, he says, but the fact that it can deliver nutrients to your body faster than any other source.
2. It’s a great hangover cure
One of the main reasons you feel so awful after a night of drinking is because alcohol is a diuretic, which leaves you dehydrated. Drinking pickle juice helps to replenish your depleted sodium levels to help cure that hangover, including that throbbing headache, waves of nausea, oversensitivity to light and noise, and raging thirst. It helps to balance electrolytes in the body and replenish those low sodium levels. By drinking it with lots of water, you’ll be hydrated faster and recover quicker so that you can get on with your day.
3. Relieves PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps
For the same reasons it helps relieve muscle cramps in athletes, pickle juice can alleviate the pain of menstrual cramps.
4. Supports better digestion
The vinegar in pickle juice is said to encourage the growth and healthy balance of good bacteria and flora in the gut, making it great for the digestive system. Some say it’s an effective cure for acid reflux, although in others it may have the opposite effect, so you’ll need to be cautious if you use it for this purpose. It works similar to the apple cider vinegar cure – just take a shot of pickle juice at meals, or anytime you’re hit with heartburn.
5. It’ll keep you hydrated longer than water
Sipping water frequently is always a good idea when it comes to better health, but a drink containing both potassium and sodium like pickle juice will help get you hydrated faster and help you stay hydrated longer.
6. It’s packed with antioxidants
Pickle juice is loaded with antioxidants, particularly vitamin C. These antioxidants not only help boost the immune system, but they help prevent free radical damage, which can speed the aging process and cause any number of illnesses and diseases. Plus, the nutrients in pickle juice are much more readily absorbed, thanks to its acidic content.
7. Night cramp relief
An estimated 20% of people experience daily nocturnal leg cramps that are severe enough to seek medical help, which equates to 15 million adults in the U.S. alone. While exertional leg cramps, particularly in the calf, may be a symptom of a circulatory disorder called claudication, many high-level athletes, as well as weekend warriors, suffer from these cramps, but according to a Harvard Medical School cure, pickle juice can help. Scientists believe the juice might stimulate ion channels in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach to send signals to the central nervous system that inactivate overexcited neurons.
In 2010, Dr. Kevin Miller of North Dakota State University wanted to find out if it was really true, so he created leg cramps in volunteers using electrical stimulation and gave them either water or pickle juice to drink. It turned out, the pickle juice won: participants who drank pickle juice showed that their cramps were inhibited and much shorter too.
8. It can promote weight loss
A study from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry showed that consuming vinegar, which is the main ingredient in pickle juice, on a daily basis, can help promote weight loss. The experts say that the main component of vinegar, acetic acid, may interfere with the body’s ability to digest starch. That’s what could help you shed those pounds, as when the digestion of starch is interfered with, less is being broken down into calories in the bloodstream, and over time, it can have a subtle effect on weight.
While you shouldn’t expect miracles, meaning you can’t eat that entire box of cookies and still lose weight, it can make a difference over time.
9. Pickle juice has all sorts of uses
You don’t have to down a bunch of pickle juice to get its benefits. You can use it in many different ways – including non-edible ways too.
- Use it in place of vinegar in just about anything.
- Anywhere you might add a pickle, you can add pickle juice too, like a salad, tuna or egg salad, or anywhere else using pickles make sense.
- Refresh leftover macaroni and cheese – just stir a bit in and it’s reborn
- Mix a few ounces into your water to make the ideal workout recovery drink.
- Stir it into plain yogurt.
- Drizzle pickle juice onto veggies or fish for added flavor.
- Add it to a Bloody Mary.
- Banish weeds from your garden by dousing them with pickle juice.
- Get your copper pans sparkling clean again by scrubbing them with pickle juice.