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Health benefits of pickles
Free radical scavenging from antioxidants: pickles can be good source of antioxidants, especially decalepis hamiltonii or swallow root. As the vegetables or unripe fruits are stored fresh without cooking, the antioxidants present in those vegetables or unripe fruits are preserved as it is. Antioxidants are those micronutrients that help in protecting our body against the attacks of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that are produced during cellular metabolism. These unstable chemicals react with our cells and damage our dna to become unstable and in the process, create more and more free radicals. We can protect ourselves from free radical attacks by consuming food with high antioxidants. A lot of emphasis these days is put on antioxidants by dieticians and doctors.
Supply of probiotic or gut-friendly bacteria: probiotic bacteria are those friendly bacteria that are present in our digestive system. These bacteria actually help us in the digestion of food. Sometimes, due to the use of antibiotics, along with invading bacteria, these friendly bacteria are also killed. The fall in their numbers can cause digestive problems that can be solved by eating pickles made without the use of vinegar. Naturally fermented salt pickles encourage the growth of these friendly bacteria, which will replenish the numbers in our digestive system and restore our health.
Supply of essential minerals and vitamins: fresh pickles, dips or chutneys are made from leafy vegetables or herbs such as coriander, curry leaves, spinach, parsley, and amaranth. These fresh pickles are interesting and appetizing ways of making children eat their share of leafy vegetables and herbs, which are otherwise boring for children. Eating freshly made pickles not only tastes good, but they also supply essential vitamins such as vitamin c, a, k, folate and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. Vitamins and minerals are vital micronutrients which protect us from diseases, help us build immunity, bone strengthening, vision protection, curing anemia, and various other functions.
Diabetes control: studies have shown that consuming vinegar based pickles improves hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients, which in turn helps in controlling diabetes. The acetic acid present in vinegar has been noted to be responsible for this phenomenon. However, care must be taken to avoid the consumption of salted pickles as excess salt increases blood pressure.
Improves digestion: in india, indian gooseberry or amla (phyllanthus emblica) is one of the favourite fruits that are pickled. This fruit is believed to possess several health benefits according to ayurveda treatments and moreover, since amla is a seasonal fruit, unripe amla pickles are prepared. It is customary practice in some indian families to have amla pickle as the first course or an appetizer as it is believed that amla pickle improves digestion.
Liver protection: apart from benefits such as improved digestion, amla or gooseberry pickle also has hepatoprotective properties. Studies have shown that when amla extracts were administered on lab animals with chemical-induced hepatotoxicity or liver damage, the damage was reduced significantly.
Reduces ulcers: ulcers are internal wounds caused due to a failure of mucus membranes and acid interaction on tissues. Particularly, gastric ulcers are caused by a weakening of mucous membrane and hyperacidity. Regular consumption of amla or indian gooseberry pickles also help in reducing ulcers, if any.