Tomorrow, November 14th, is National Pickle Day! In the U.S., the first thing that comes to mind for pickled foods is, well, pickles! Dill, Kosher, Polish, Gherkin, Bread and Butter, Cornichon or any other varieties of pickles are celebrated on this day! The pickles as we know them are cucumbers that are soaked in a brine of vinegar, salt, water, and spices. The term pickle comes from the Dutch word ‘pekel’, meaning brine. In the United States, the word pickle typically refers to a pickled cucumber. However, just about any fruit or vegetable can be pickled, such as cabbage, beets, or asparagus.
Did you know that pickled foods are actually very good for you? They have natural probiotics from the fermentation process. Studies show that fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi are loaded with gut health-promoting probiotics. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well. The main job of probiotics, or good bacteria, is to maintain a healthy balance in your body. Think of it as keeping your body in neutral. When you are sick, bad bacteria enters your body and increases in number. This knocks your body out of balance. Good bacteria works to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance within your body, making you feel better. Good bacteria keeps you healthy by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation.
Fermentation produces probiotic bacteria as a byproduct of the process, which are beneficial for diversifying gut flora and bolstering your health in numerous ways. Research suggests that probiotics may promote clearer skin, better immune function, increased gastrointestinal health, and could even reduce depression. The fermentation process ups good bacteria while getting rid of the bad, which is why it’s so prevalent in many traditional food preparation techniques stemming from a time without refrigeration.
Who knew that pickles are much more than just a crunchy snack and favorite sandwich companion?! A whole Dill pickle contains 23% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, which helps your blood clot and keeps your bones strong, as well as 21%-24% of the daily value for vitamin A, important for your vision, immune system, and a healthy pregnancy.
In honor of National Pickle Day, crack open a jar and get snacking for your daily dose of probiotics!