When the paleo diet first appeared on the scene just over twenty years ago, a lot of people brushed off the idea as a “lose weight fast” trend that would fizzle out after a few months in the spotlight as attention turned to the next health craze.
Fast forward to the present day, and the paleo diet is still thriving, with more and more people making the switch each day.
Regardless of whether you’ve been on the paleo diet for quite some time or you’ve just recently made the lifestyle change, one of the most common queries you’ll find yourself asking is whether or not a certain type of food is paleo!
While some foods are obviously not paleo, other foods can be a little harder to differentiate – and this is where we come in to lend a helping hand.
In this article, we’re going to be talking you through whether or not pickles are suitable for a paleo diet. From whether or not pickles were consumed by the early humans, if modern-day pickles are suitable for the paleo way, all the way to the health benefits of them – we’re going to be covering all bases! Read on.
What are pickles?
Before we jump any further, we first think that it’s a good idea to talk you through what pickles actually are, especially given the fact that the name refers to a wide variety of picking methods and pickles.
More often than not, when you think of pickles, you’re likely picturing the little green cucumbers that are stored inside a jar of brine water.
While this is usually the most common kind of pickle, it’s worth noting that the name “pickle” doesn’t actually refer to a specific type of food source, but rather refers to the flavor created after undergoing a process known as “pickling”.
In modern-day life, the most common type of pickling methods are that of vinegar pickling and salty brine pickling, and these two methods of pickling produce quite different results.
When cucumbers are pickled in brine (which is a kind of water and salt solution) it allows plenty of healthy bacteria to swarm the sugar present inside the cucumber and create lactic acid.
This lactic acid not only helps to ensure that the pickled food will offer a longer service life, but it also will mean that there will be a slightly different flavor and texture to pickled foods that have undergone vinegar pickling.
Interestingly enough, this particular type of pickling method is known to have been used from as far back as at least 4,000 years ago, although the method has become significantly more sophisticated since then!
Vinegar pickles are a much more “modern” type of pickled food and are considered to have been first introduced in the Western World during the industrial revolution.
Due to the fact that it is a more modern method of pickling, which means that it is likely early humans didn’t eat vinegared pickles, many paleo eaters tend to avoid pickles that have been pickled via the vinegar method.
It is also worth noting that when vinegar is used to pickle foods such as small cucumbers, the natural fermentation process that is seen when using a salty brine solution is prevented from occurring.
As a result of this, many of the health benefits seen in salted pickles are lacking within vinegared pickles.
Are Pickles Paleo?
As we’re sure you might have already guessed – pickles are indeed paleo! Widely considered to be eaten by the early humans, pickles are an ideal paleo-friendly snack that can be enjoyed by themselves, or even added to food to add more flavor and vibrancy.
Nevertheless, as we’ve already stated above, we do recommend that you opt for pickles that have undergone the pickling process via the brine solution, as this method is recognized as being the earliest out of the two.
Not only does this indicate that early humans used this method, but is also deemed to be the healthier out of the two types of pickling processes, as pickled foods that have been left to pickle in salty brine solutions are able to undergo the fermentation process which packs plenty of nutrients and health benefits in the pickles.
This brings us to our next section.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Pickles?
So, now that you have a better understanding of the two types of pickles, including whether or not pickles are even suitable for a paleo diet, now we’re going to be talking you through some of the main health benefits of pickles – and why they’re the perfect addition to your paleo meals! Let’s take a look:
- Pickles Can Boost Digestion
Small but mighty, one of the biggest health benefits of pickles is that they have the ability to boost your digestion! As we have already touched upon above, the healthy, good bacteria that thrive during fermentation are fantastic for your gut health and will help to aid in digestion.
Plus, speaking of gut health, pickles are even able to increase the healthy bacteria in your gut while also helping to weed out all of the not-so-nice bacteria. Win-win.
- Pickles Are Packed Full Of Vitamins
So long as you’re making sure that you’re opting for the salted pickles, you can bet that you’re going to be able to enjoy a healthy dose of concentrated vitamins, all thanks to the salt’s ability to suck out water from the pickled food during the pickling process.
- Pickles Have Very High Nutritional Content
We know what you might be thinking, “Isn’t a high nutritional value the same as vitamins?” Well, yes and no. The point is, unlike processed foods, pickles have the ability to retain all of their nutritional value due to the fact that they undergo a natural fermentation and pickling process.
This means that salty brine pickles are not only delicious but are also a fantastic source of beta-carotene, iron, manganese, and more.