Pickles are having a moment. Don’t believe us? Just head to TikTok where the fermented cucumber has found itself at the center of several trends, from adding a ranch seasoning packet to the pickle jar to the rise of spicy bagged pickles. If you’re not a pickle person, feel free to sit this one out, but this crispy and refreshing snack or side is actually packed with some hidden health benefits—particularly if you make them at home.
Earlier this year a spicy pickle went viral among TikTok users, leaving the internet divided. Among the thousands of users enjoying the now-famous giant pickle in a bag, people couldn’t decide if the tang was well paired with spice—some even went as far as drinking the juice straight from the bag to come to a conclusion.
While the trend is certainly not the strangest the internet has ever seen (cinnamon challenge, anyone?), it does draw into question what the implications of regularly eating pickles might be. The good news is, your gut may thank you.
Health benefits of pickles.
The real benefits come if you’re pickling cucumbers on your own (which, let’s be honest, most people are not) or you opt for a fermented variety. And if you’re going to eat pickles in large quantities, you might want to opt for one or the other.
“Fermented foods are so amazing for your health because they’re full of phenomenal probiotics and the vegetables are full of prebiotic goodness—food for the good bacteria in your digestive system that keeps you healthy and well,” life coach and holistic nurse practitioner Victoria Albina, N.P., MPH, previously told mbg. In short, pickles can help give your gut some of the probiotics it needs.
“I’ve been eating and loving pickles for as long as I can remember, so I’m glad I was on trend,” jokes mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN.
Ferira goes on to serve up some critical pickle product formula intel when shopping for the popular food item: “Lots of pickle brands are unfortunately still featuring added sugars, artificial preservatives like sodium benzoate, and synthetic dyes Yellow #5 or #6. Those ingredients are cheap,” she explains.
What’s the better alternative, the ultimate “clean” pickle, if you will? Ferira says she prefers, “USDA-certified organic kosher dill pickles. These typically will feature organic cucumbers, water, organic vinegar, sea salt, natural flavors, calcium chloride (a natural salt that helps keep the pickles firm for that snap we all expect), and natural color from organic turmeric.”
So you’ll want to turn over that jar and look at the “Ingredients” list to be sure. “I shop at Publix a lot because I live in the Southeast, so their GreenWise dill spears are my favorite. For longtime national brands, Mt. Olive offers high-quality pickle varieties as well,” Ferira adds.
Other ways to support your gut health.
Caring for your gut should be a priority in the day-to-day, so while you’re munching away on homemade pickles (check out our guide for making them yourself) or those clean pickle recommendations Ferira served up, here are some other healthy habits you can integrate into your routine to make sure you’re feeling your best from the inside out:
1. Focus on a veggie-packed diet.
It’s no secret that vegetables contain a wide range of essential nutrients, so it would stand to reason that prioritizing these foods within your regular eating habits would make a world of difference to the gut. “A plant-based diet means more fiber and—let me tell you—we need it,” gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI, previously told mbg. Good news: Pickles count!
Not only is working out excellent for building muscle and bone strength and improving your cardiovascular health—studies have even shown that staying active can also help diversify the gut microbiome. That’s right, the benefits of your hot girl walk are plentiful.
In order to take your gut health routine to the next level, a targeted supplement such as mbg’s probiotic+ is an excellent way to nourish your body with good bacteria.* Formulated with four targeted strains that have been clinically shown to support gut health, this probiotic aids in daily functions of the digestive system while promoting abdominal comfort and regularity.* Daily probiotic and a pickle? An unstoppable combination.
If you’re on board the pickle train alongside the rest of TikTok, for the sake of your gut, consider seeking out fermented cucumbers for some awesome health benefits. While they may not be spicy like the viral variation, your gut will certainly thank you.