It is the technique used since ancient times to preserve food for longer, but pickles, today, are the most appreciated tapas wherever we go …
The shortened is a type of food that has been immersed (marinated) in a salt solution, and that ferment on their own or with the help of a harmless microorganism (Lactobacillus plantarum), in which the pH decreases and its acidity increases in order to extend its conservation. The dietician-nutritionist Beatriz Cerdán specifies that they are immersed in an acidified medium with a pH lower than 4.6.
“Being in a highly acidic environment allows the inactivation of most microorganisms, therefore, we greatly increase the shelf life of the product, in addition to providing flavor and aromas,” says the nutrition expert.
But, as Beatriz Cerdán warns, first of all you have to know how to differentiate pickle from pickle: «There are many conservation practices derived from pickles, for example, the marinade in which fermentation is not used, but vinegar is added, as well as oil and other spices such as bay leaf, pepper, even wine, but by including these ingredients they would not be as nutritionally interesting as a pickle.
Types of pickles
Beatriz Cerdán also says that you can pickle any food, but the most common is “to pickle fruits, vegetables and legumes, some of the most common pickles being gherkins, olives, chives, Almagro aubergines, capers, carrots, lupins , cauliflower or for example the typical fennel of the Balearic Islands ». Other foods, although not so typical in Spain, are pickled eggs and the starters.
Beatriz Vinaches, General Director of Bombas, Lizards and Rockets of Vallekasm differentiates between two types of pickles:
– With salt. “The preservation of food is produced thanks to the fermentation of carbohydrates”, he comments.
– With vinegar. «The food is immersed in a vinegar solution. It can also be accompanied by other types of dressings to give it flavor », explains Beatriz Vinaches.
We can consider pickles an interesting food in our diet since they can be very useful for appetizers, helping us to spice up our dishes, salads and provide us with satiety.
In addition, Beatriz Cerdán explains that if the pickles are fermented, they can be considered as probiotic foods and provide benefits to our intestinal microbiota, highlighting, for example, fermented cabbage, called ‘sauerkraut’ or fermented Chinese cabbage called kimchi.
“Pickles, in addition to promoting the intestinal flora, are detoxifying for the body, activate metabolism, help digest food and control diabetes, tone the liver, relieve constipation and aerophagia or accumulation of gases in the stomach and digestive system ”, says Beatriz Vinaches.
The expert highlights the following benefits:
– Rich in probiotics. The essential microorganisms to take care of our intestinal flora, essential for optimal health.
– They promote digestion. Due to their digestive enzymes, they help prevent gas, bloating and constipation.
– They strengthen the immune system. They protect us from different diseases, they are rich in vitamin C, folic acid, which helps our cells to stay young and strong.
– Satiating effect. Ideal for eating between meals when we want to lose weight. They also reduce fat absorption. In this sense, olives, even if they have fat, are unsaturated.
– They reduce the desire to consume sugar, especially refined sugar like sweets.
– Allies of antibiotics. They help them in their work by having natural substances that help fight bacteria in our body. We should not substitute antibiotics for pickles.
– Help the gallbladder to produce bile.
At the same time, we have to bear in mind that pickles have a dark side since they are foods very rich in salt, so in cases of hypertension, special caution must be taken. «The limit of salt according to the World Health Organization is 5 grams a day, for example, a common jar of olives can have 2 or 3 grams of salt in 100 grams, even if we do not eat the entire jar, more than 1, 2 grams of salt in 100 grams of product can already be considered as an excess of salt, we must be careful in the end everything adds up. So in cases of hypertension it would be a good idea to look for products low in salt, “says Beatriz Cerdán.
Another aspect to assess is that many of the pickles contain flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate, so it would be interesting to always look at the labeling and choose the healthiest version you can also, according to the nutritionist, wash them a little before consuming them or even make pickles at home (always following the steps correctly and ensuring food safety).
Pickles should be consumed in moderation for the following reasons:
– Its high salt content can contribute to cardiovascular and / or kidney diseases (especially if we suffer from hypertension).
– Its high content of vinegar in large doses is harmful to our stomach and oral health as it is corrosive.
– Many pickle recipes usually include a few tablespoons of sugar and the intake of it reduces some benefits such as aid in digestion or losing weight.