Everyone loves a good pickle (my deepest condolences to the wayward taste buds out there that can’t appreciate them).
However, since pickles are the stars of the jar, too often the juice—you know the stuff responsible for turning your everyday cucumber into crunchy, sour goodness—gets tossed out and forgotten. But not today. Today, pickle juice will get the credit it so rightfully deserves.
After all, the simple liquid packs tons of benefits that nutritionists say you need to take advantage of as soon as the last pickle is gone. So yes, consider this your excuse to buy another jar of pickles, stat. You’re welcome.
1. It’s a next-level source of hydration.
“Pickle juice contains [sodium], potassium, and water, which are all important for hydration,” says Alyssa Lavy, RD. And while water usually does the trick, if you need replenishment after a super hard workout or long day in the sun, electrolytes (a blanket term for good-for-you minerals, including sodium and potassium) can help. And that’s where pickle juice’s all-in-one status comes in clutch.
Lavy says approximately one and a half to three ounces of pickle juice per day should suffice—whether you’re drinking the stuff straight or diluting it with water to tone down the flavor.
That said, pickle juice doesn’t skimp on the sodium—three ounces (or six tablespoons) has 690 mg. “So, you may want to limit your intake if you’re watching sodium in your diet or already eating a high-sodium diet.” (FYI, the FDA recommends consuming 2,300 milligrams a day.)
Here’s the rest of the pickle juice’s nutrient lineup, in a three-ounce serving, according to the USDA:
- Calories: 15
- Protein: 0 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Sodium: 690 mg
2. It’s great for workout recovery.
Water is typically all you’ll need before and during a workout, but if you’re really going hard (like, athlete-level), you’ll need a few more of those aforementioned electrolytes. And pickle juice is THE recovery fluid for replenishing the electrolytes lost during a major sweat session. Plus, it can even help with post-workout muscle cramping.
3. It’s loaded with probiotics.
Pickle juice is here to work magic on your gut. Okay, well not magic necessarily, but since pickles are fermented, Lavy says, they’re packing tons of probiotics.
That said, Lavy recommends keeping an eye on the labels of store-bought jars. Some “commercially-produced pickles are not likely to contain probiotics, due to processing.” That’s because, in order to extend their shelf-life, they’re manufactured using vinegar and heat, which typically destroys the gut-loving active cultures. So, keep an eye out for vinegar on the ingredients list, it might clue you in on whether those particular pickles are packing probiotics.
Or, if you’re really dedicated, you could just pickle your cucumbers right at home. (Just be sure to go for a classic pickling recipe that involves salt, water, and cucumbers—no vinegar.)
4. It will satisfy your salt craving.
If you find yourself reaching for a bag of chips or pretzels when that 3 p.m. hunger pang hits, Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, says pickle juice might just be the nutrient-dense (and tasty) alternative you’re looking for. After all, it tastes just like the pickles that were once inside the jar.
Speaking of chips…watch Chrissy Teigen taste-test all kinds of crazy chip flavors:
5. It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
While pickle juice made with vinegar may not have probiotic benefits, it does come with its own perks. “Pickle juice may help regulate blood sugar levels,” says Kelli McGrane, RD for Lose It!. “Studies have shown that when consumed prior to a meal, individuals with type 2 diabetes had reduced blood sugar spikes.” And though the vinegar in pickle juice is largely responsible for improving the body’s response to insulin, I probably don’t need to convince you a shot of vinegar tastes a lot better when it’s masked by the sweet and sour flavors of a pickle.
6. It’s a source of vitamins and antioxidants.
Pickle juice is a particularly good source of vitamins A and E. It also contains a trace amount of antioxidants, which help protect your body and its cells from harmful molecules. While other foods have higher concentrations of antioxidants (pickle juice shouldn’t be your go-to source), if you’re already drinking the stuff, know you’re reaping these benefits, too.
7. You can use it to pickle more veggies.
If you’re not planning on tossing a straw into your pickle jar, Moreno suggests using the brine to pickle other vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and beets.
8. It’s cost-effective.
Since pickle juice comes with the pickles you were planning to anyway, this probiotic-packed sports drink is super cost effective. Not to mention, it helps do your part to eliminate food waste. Win, win.