Pickling is the oldest process of food preservation. This process can be dated back to over four thousand years ago. Before the advent of modern storage systems like refrigerators, pickling was the only way to preserve perishable food. It is done all over the world, from Asia to Europe to Canada to India. Depending on the culture and availability, a wide variety of vegetables, meat, sometimes even fruits and eggs are pickled.
The pickling base also varies from brine to dry salt to vinegar or cooking oil. Sometimes herbs, condiments and spices are also added.
Traditionally, pickling is usually done with seasonal vegetables and fruits which are not available all the year round. Protein rich food like eggs, meat, fish are also pickled. Earlier these were pickled mostly by travellers and sailors. There is a very wrong notion among people that pickles do not have any nutritional value or purpose. On the contrary, they are filled with goodness. Here are some of the reasons why you must not give up your pickles.
Gut friendly bacteria which are present in the digestive system are known as probiotic bacteria. These bacteria actually aid the body by helping in the process of digestion of food. Often antibiotics end up killing these along with the harmful bacteria which can result on digestive problems. Naturally fermented salt pickles, which are made without vinegar, encourage the growth of these friendly bacteria, and in turn, restore the damaged process of digestion.
Free radical scavenging antioxidants
Antioxidants are micro nutrients which protect the body against the attack of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals, produced during cellular metabolism, which react with our cells and cause damage to our DNA. In turn, it becomes unstable and hence results in the creation of more and more free radicals. Pickles contain vegetables and unripe fruits which are preserved without cooking. Hence it is rich in antioxidants.
Essential minerals and vitamins
Pickles are usually made from fresh vegetables, leafy green vegetables and unripe fruits. These are storehouses of essential vitamins such as vitamin A, C, K, folate and important minerals like iron, potassium, calcium etc. These vitamins and minerals are micro nutrients which are vital for the body. They protect us from diseases and help us build our immunity. These are also important for bone strengthening, better vision, curing anaemia, improving overall metabolism, boosting the body’s natural process of healing and a host of other functions.
It is commonly seen that consuming pickles which are vinegar based improves the hemoglobin levels in people with diabetes. This is attributed to the presence of acetic acid in vinegar. Therefore, consuming a moderate amount of pickles can actually help diabetic patients control their ailment.
Prevention of urinary tract infection
Pickles can be extremely good for people who are prone to urinary tract infections. The active components in vinegar have strong anti fungal as well as anti bacterial properties. These inhibit the growth of bacteria like E coli which causes urinary tract infections. It also boosts the immunity and gives the body an added strength to fight infections.
Improvement in psychological health
Pickles are also known to give a good boost to our psychological health. It is seen that pickles contain rich amounts of good bacteria which improve the functioning of brain by strengthening the central nervous system. It also helps the mind stay alert and with time improves its agility.
Ulcers are internal wounds caused inside the stomach due to a failure of the functioning of mucus membranes, resulting in an acid interaction on tissues. This can often be a result of the death of good bacteria. Pickles are rich in probiotic bacteria and they help in the faster healing of ulcers.
It is a less known fact that pickles can be nutrient packed super foods which benefit the body in multiple ways. So, don’t put down your pickle!