Health Benefits of Pickles
There are so many pickles with abundant nutrients available that can help our body in various ways. Let’s look at the benefits in detail.
Pickles can be a good source of antioxidants, especially Decalepis hamiltonii or Swallow root pickle. As the vegetables or unripe fruits are stored fresh without cooking, the antioxidants present in those vegetables or unripe fruits are preserved as is. Antioxidants are those micronutrients that help in protecting our body against the attacks of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that are produced by cellular metabolism. These unstable chemicals react with our cells and damage our DNA to become unstable and in the process, create more free radicals. We can protect ourselves from these radical attacks by consuming food with high antioxidants.
Probiotic bacteria are those friendly bacteria that are present in our digestive system. These bacteria actually help us in the digestion of food. Sometimes, due to the use of antibiotics, along with invading bacteria, these friendly bacteria are also killed. The fall in their numbers can cause digestive problems that can be solved by eating pickles made without the use of vinegar. Naturally, fermented salt pickles encourage the growth of these friendly bacteria, which will replenish their numbers in our digestive system and restore our health.
Supply Essential Minerals & Vitamins
Fresh pickles, dips or chutneys are made from leafy vegetables or herbs such as coriander, curry leaves, spinach, parsley, and amaranth. These fresh pickles are interesting and appetizing ways of making children eat their share of leafy vegetables and herbs, which are otherwise boring for them. Eating freshly made pickles not only tastes good, but also supply essential vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. Vitamins and minerals are vital micronutrients which protect us from diseases, help us build immunity, strengthen bones, enhances vision, cure anemia, and various other problems.
Studies have shown that consuming vinegar-based pickles improves hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients, which in turn helps in controlling diabetes. The acetic acid present in vinegar has been noted to be responsible for this phenomenon. However, care must be taken to avoid the consumption of salted pickles as excess salt increases blood pressure.
In India, Indian gooseberry or amla (Phyllanthus emblica) is one of the favorite fruits that are pickled. This fruit is believed to possess several health benefits according to Ayurveda treatments and moreover, since amla is a seasonal fruit, unripe amla pickles are prepared and preserved. It is a customary practice in some Indian families to have amla pickle as the first course or an appetizer as it is believed that amla pickle improves digestion.
Apart from benefits such as improved digestion, amla or gooseberry pickle also has hepatoprotective properties. Studies have shown that when amla extracts were administered to lab animals with chemical-induced hepatotoxicity or liver damage, the damage was reduced significantly.
Ulcers are internal wounds caused due to a failure of mucous membranes and acid interaction on tissues. Particularly, gastric ulcers are caused by a weakening of mucous membrane and hyperacidity. Regular consumption of amla or Indian gooseberry pickle also helps in reducing ulcers, if any.
Word of Caution: Almost all pickles contain a high amount of salt in them. It not only adds to the taste, but it also helps in preserving the pickle and acts as an anti-microbial, keeping away unwanted bacteria, yeast, and fungi. However, excess salt consumption through pickles can cause problems of its own.
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