Sweet, sour, spicy, dill, bread and butter—there are so many different types of pickles. No matter which variety you prefer, they are always crispy, full of flavor, and delicious. With a pickle coming in at around 7-20 calories, they also seem like the perfect healthy snack. There's just one problem: a pickle can have as much as 1200mg of sodium. That is a lot of salt. So the question is, are pickles healthy?

Let's Look at the Facts

jam, vegetable, gherkin, condiment, vinegar, salt, pickle
Hannah Petersen

The daily recommend intake of sodium is 1500mg-2300mg. That means that one pickle can contain from 50%-80% of your daily allowance. Diets too high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of strokes, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. 

That certainly doesn't sound promising, but let's look at some of the health benefits of pickles. Pickles are a great source of probiotics that can aid digestion. Vinegar also has a number of health benefits, including improving hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients, reducing liver damage, and even helping to reduce ulcers. 

That sounds nice, but does the good outweigh the bad? I decided to ask a nutritionist to find out.

Consulting a Professional

vegetable, sweet
Christin Urso

Angela Michele Tyson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Naples, Florida. I asked her for her opinion on pickles.  "Pickles are very high in sodium. I would suggest them more as an added flavor, like a couple of slices on a sandwich. That being said, if you don't have hypertension, it's an okay snack."

pickle, hamburger, cheese, cucumber, bacon, beef, cheddar, gherkin
Isabel van Weegen

In conclusion, are pickles healthy? Not exactly. However, they aren't terrible for you either. They're a great way to add flavor to a sandwich or salad without adding a lot of calories and even have a few purported health benefits. Like most things, they're fine in moderation, so enjoy pickles guilt-free... just don't try to eat a whole jar.