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  • Writer's pictureMairead Molloy

The science behind why some people love pickles so much – and how they can be addictive!


From the more mainstream (pickled onions and gherkins), to the less universal (pickled eggs and mussels in a jar), I can’t get enough of pickles.

In fact, a few years ago, I even attempted to break the Guinness World Record for ‘most pickled eggs eaten in a minute’.

I wasn’t successful, but at least I got to eat a load of pickled eggs.

It’s not just me that is a fan of the salty, crunchy, tangy, goodness.

Are pickles good for you?

Traditionally, pickled foods are fermented vegetables, which are brined using salt and water, and left at room temperature for a week.

According to Molloy, foods that undergo this method of pickling are considered a good source of probiotics due to the bacteria present following the process.

However, the commercially produced supermarket varieties generally use vinegar to pickle vegetables.

These don’t have the beneficial probiotic bacteria of food that’s been fermented, for example, sauerkraut.

The supermarket varieties – such as onions or cabbage – will have less of a probiotic benefit, as the vegetable itself has not undergone fermentation.

They also, sadly, don’t count as one of your five a day.

‘However, a recent study has shown that pickle juice could lower blood sugar spikes in healthy adults,’ says Mairead Molloy, a food disorder specialist, tells us. In addition, pickle juice has a variety of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E.

Can pickles help with anxiety?

There is also some evidence suggests that pickles might be a taste worth acquiring if you suffer from anxiety, Mairead tells us.

‘The good bacteria may increase levels of a chemical in the brain called GABA, which controls anxiety,’ she says.

‘GABA sends messages to activate the same neural pathways as compounds in anti-anxiety medication.’

Therefore, this would have a similar effect to the work that anti-anxiety medication does – although on a much lesser level.

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