- Pickle juice has been shown to help prevent muscle cramps in athletes.
- The vinegar in pickle juice may help reduce heartburn and stabilize blood sugar.
- Pickle juice is high in sodium, so it’s important not to drink too much of it at once.
- Visit the Insider Health Reference Library for more tips.
Pickles have always been a favorite side piece at backyard barbecues, but these days pickle juice has been pushed to center stage.
Pickle juice is available on its own as sports drinks, slush drinks, alcoholic drinks, and more, and people flock to it to get the reported health benefits.
“Athletes may use pickle juice because they think it will help improve performance,” says Matthew Black, MD, a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. While others may consume pickle juice thinking it will [help] Muscle cramps and hangovers.”
Are any of these health benefits true? Should You Scream Pickle Juice Every Day? Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and drawbacks of this salty green liquid.
Nutrition facts about pickles
In general, pickles and pickle juice contain sodium electrolytes and some recipes may also contain added antioxidants like vitamin C and E, says Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition.
These important nutrients come from both the cucumbers (and other herbs and vegetables) that manufacturers use to make pickles and also from the brine—which usually includes a mixture of vinegar, salt, and spices—that’s what pickling does.
Commercially produced cucumbers are very rarely fermented, but if you buy (or make) fermented pickles, they can also contain probiotics, the “good bacteria” that support a healthy gut.
Here’s what the nutritional facts for pickle juice look like (although they will vary based on the recipe and manufacturing process).
Here are six ways the probiotics and other nutrients in pickle juice can benefit your health.
1. Gut Health Benefits
Your gut is home to about a trillion bacteria, known as your gut microbiome. Maintaining these good bacteria can reduce your risk of developing allergies, arthritis, and a host of other conditions.
One way to keep your gut microbiome happy and healthy is to consume probiotics, or good bacteria, such as those found in fermented pickle juice.
A small 2021 study found that people who eat a diet rich in fermented foods have a more diverse gut microbiome and a healthier immune system.
To that end, “Eating pickles is a great way to boost your microbiome,” Shapiro says.
To find out if pickle juice contains probiotics, look for the words “probiotic” or “fermented” on the label, says Black.
Just know that some companies will add probiotics after the juice has already been made rather than letting them grow naturally during fermentation. These products generally contain fewer probiotic strains and likely won’t be beneficial, Black says.
2. Reduces muscle cramps
Pickle juice has been shown to help prevent muscle cramps in athletes when consumed during or after exercise.
Shapiro recommends taking a 1-ounce serving of pickle juice after intense workouts to prevent cramps. If you don’t exercise regularly, pickle juice may still be helpful for muscle cramps, but there is no research for non-athletes.
Vinegar may help in many pickle juices
Some research has also shown that vinegar can reduce appetite, Black says.
However, there are three big issues to be aware of:
- Vinegar reduces appetite by making people feel sick, so it is generally not well tolerated.
- Additionally, most of the research on vinegar and weight loss involves apple cider vinegar, which is not typically used in pickle juice.
- Finally, most studies on weight loss and vinegar involve drinking vinegar before each meal. Black says that consuming a lot of pickle juice will result in a lot of sodium, so this method is not recommended for weight loss.
4. Reduces heartburn
Heartburn can be caused by acidic foods, which is why people with heartburn are told to avoid them. Despite this, some people say pickle juice, which is highly acidic, helps relieve their symptoms, says Shapiro. For others, it makes symptoms worse.
“It seems like this is subjective,” she says. “No research has been done on pickle juice for heartburn.”
If you want to give it a try, take a single serving of pickle juice when you experience symptoms. If symptoms get worse, try some other heartburn remedy such as taking ginger or liquid aloe vera.
5. Regulates blood sugar
Research has found that vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels, especially when taken with meals containing complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables. Vinegar may also help people with type 2
Regulating blood sugar.
“Vinegar helps improve insulin response, and thus helps manage blood sugar after meals,” says Shapiro.
Although there are no studies on pickle juice specifically, pickle juice that contains a lot of vinegar (rather than fermented pickle juice), is likely to have the same effect, she says.
The dangers of excessive drinking
The biggest danger of drinking pickle juice is consuming too much sodium.
The average adult should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but most Americans consume more than that. Eating too much sodium can increase blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
For this reason, most people should not consume pickle juice regularly, Black says. This includes:
- People who follow a low-sodium diet, often used to treat kidney disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- People 14 years of age or younger should have a lower recommended daily sodium limit of no more than 1,800 mg per day (lowering to 1,500 mg for children under 9, and 1,200 mg for children under 4) Be especially careful about consuming pickle juice.
Although pickle juice is trendy, there is little evidence to support some of its purported health benefits, Black says.
Pickle juice may help with muscle cramps or stabilize blood sugar. Fermented pickle juice can help support a healthy gut microbiome. But since pickle juice contains a lot of salt, it is not a healthy food.
“These products are high in sodium, so use them in moderation,” Black says. “The benefits may not outweigh the risks of consuming large amounts of sodium.”