Dill pickles are made from cucumbers, soaked in a brine of water, vinegar, salt, and dill weed or dill oil. Cucumbers lend themselves especially well to pickling, as they're mild in flavor and their flesh is spongy and mostly water. Pickling occurs through simple osmosis - the cucumbers absorb the salt and seasonings yet retain their snappy crunch. Pickling is a type of fermentation, thereby giving your pickles both the health benefits of cucumbers along with the benefits of eating fermented food. The sodium in the salty brine can also help regulate your body's electrolytes, essential for many functions.
Pickles are low in calories - just 20 per serving - and full of water and fiber, both of which help you remain fuller, for longer. In fact, eating fibrous, fleshy vegetables helps regulate your appetite. The water and fiber both help move your food through your gut slowly enough to allow nutrients to be fully absorbed. The fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar, avoiding spikes and crashes that can lead to unhealthy cravings Dill pickles can add crunch to sandwiches and even make up a side dish instead of higher-calorie potato chips. They're also a great additive to compound salads, helping reduce the overall calories per serving of chicken or tuna salad by acting as a low-calorie "filler" food.
Dill pickles are a good source of vitamin A and Vitamin K. They also contain calcium, which helps build bone density, as well as the minerals potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and trace amounts of iron, zinc copper and manganese. Potassium and magnesium are important for gut health, while zinc and manganese help improve cognitive function. Dill pickles are high in sodium, which can help balance your electrolytes. They also have trace amounts of B-complex vitamins, essential for renewal and regeneration of your cells. They provide a good source of both Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
Dill pickles contain small amounts of carotenoids - brightly colored pigments such as beta-carotene and lutein that can be converted to vitamin A. Pickles also contain antioxidants, which help renew and restore damage to your body at the cellular level. Antioxidants attack molecules called free radicals which cause cellular damage that can lead to heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. The herb dill itself contains compounds that attach themselves to the free radicals, helping eliminate them from the body. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of dill help minimize free radical damage.
Cucumbers, the parent vegetable of dill pickles, are high in fiber, with 2 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber is important for healthy digestion, allowing your food to digest more slowly and your gut to extract the nutrients it needs as well as keeping your digestive system moving regularly. A diet high in fiber may help ease the strain of constipation and help your bowel movements become regular. Eating a diet with the proper amount of fiber - the recommended allowance is 15 to 20 grams per day - can also help reduce the risk of certain health conditions. Plenty of dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reducing the risks of both heart disease and diabetes.
Pickles, as a fermented food, contain probiotics, essential for a healthy gut and proper digestion. As a digestive aid, probiotics ensure that your food moves at the appropriate pace through your intestine, and keeps the bacteria in your gut healthy and in control. An overabundance of some kinds of gut bacteria may prompt unhealthy cravings, such as for processed sugar and simple carbohydrates. In addition, when your digestive system moves on a regular basis, your body can extract the nutrients it needs, improving overall health. When your gut isn't able to properly function - so-called "leaky gut" - your entire body suffers, including lowered immune responses, fatigue, and metabolic syndrome.
Vitamins contained in dill pickles, most notably Vitamin A, can help your skin renew and rejuvenate. Vitamin A helps your cells grow properly, so it's important for processes ranging from blood cell growth to keep your skin strong and healthy. A single serving of dill pickles contains 10 to 15 percent of your recommended allowance of Vitamin A. The antioxidant properties in dill pickles help reduce the occurrence of free radicals in the body. Reducing oxidative damage to your epidermis improves the condition of the dull, dry, and lifeless skin. This allows your skin to produce healthy new cells, giving you a glow.
Dill pickles are an excellent dietary source of Vitamin K, known for helping prevent blood clotting and strengthening bones. A fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin K is stored in the liver and adipose tissue. A pickle or two per day can help your body keep a proper balance of Vitamin K. Allowing your blood to move freely through your cardiovascular system helps bring oxygen to your system, enhancing your body's overall health. Proper levels of Vitamin K lessen the likelihood of dangerous blood clots in your system.
Drinking pickle juice, and maybe eating pickles themselves, may help stave off painful muscle cramps. Some research has shown that it may be the vinegar, the salt or the magnesium it contains, or perhaps that particular combination, that helps relax your muscles and dull the pain. Consuming dill pickle juice at the first sign of cramps or if you’re prone to cramping may provide natural relief for even the strongest athlete.
Pickle juice may work for menstrual cramps, as well. Although consuming the salt in pickles and their juice may help replenish the sodium levels in your body, be careful during exercise or at certain points in a woman's cycle to balance the consumption with the correct amount of water to prevent dehydration.
Pickles, especially pickle juice, are high in sodium. Depending on the recipe, a single one-cup serving of chopped dill pickles contains 1,251 milligrams sodium - nearly half the recommended intake for an adult. If you're following a low-sodium diet for your health, consume pickles in moderation. For those who are especially salt-sensitive, sodium may increase blood pressure, thus increasing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Salt may also harm your bones by forcing your body to "lose" calcium, especially if you are a pre or post-menopausal woman.
You can make pickles at home. Simply prepare a brine by dissolving one tablespoon of very fine sea salt into 4 cups of filtered or purified water and ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar. You may add whole peppercorns, a touch of white sugar, and dill or other fresh herbs to your taste. Wash and slice your cucumbers into your preferred shape - spears, slices, or halves - and place in a jar with an airtight lid. Pour the brine solution over the cucumbers, and seal with an airtight lid. Allow your pickles to ferment for a week, then enjoy! Your pickles should keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.
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