Eating Pickles Before Bed: What Science Says, Side Effects, and More

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Introduction

Pickles can be easily found in any grocery store or restaurant and can be consumed in different forms and tastes, which makes them a great candidate for tasty midnight snacks. Moreover, pickles can be in the form of fermented vegetables or brined cucumbers and could be sweet, sour, half-sour, or salty.

Pickles come from the process of lacto-fermentation, where cucumbers are put into saltwater brine to form lactic acid from the naturally added sugars. This fermentation process can last from four to eighteen months at least, the longer the duration, the more sour the cucumbers become.

making pickles at home

Pickles have been found to have several effects on our health, especially when consumed before bedtime. Furthermore, pickles might help with muscle cramps, digestion, and blood sugar levels. However, improper consumption of pickles can lead to negative effects and health issues as they contain high amounts of sodium.

Pickles Benefits

Prevents Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are very common, and many people struggle with them. Such as athletes, pregnant women, elders, people who are overweight or have high blood pressure, and more.

people exercising in gym

According to one study, pickles in the form of juice may help treat muscle cramps because dehydration is a common cause of cramps. As well as low levels of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Since the top two nutrients in pickled juice are sodium and potassium, with small amounts of calcium and magnesium, it might help you avoid getting muscle cramps.

Pickle juice has a high electrolyte concentration and acetic acid, which affects the nervous system and causes cramps. Acetic acid simulates a reduction in alpha motor neuron function, allowing your contracting muscles to gradually relax and alleviate any pain or discomfort. Thus, within three to four minutes, you might feel relief from the muscle cramps after the reflex is triggered.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Unfermented pickles can help lower your blood sugar due to the presence of vinegar. Pickles made with vinegar-based brine may help with blood sugar regulation. Also, it helps with avoiding the feeling of extreme hunger by maintaining stable blood glucose levels. People with diabetes or those who are at risk of developing diabetes can benefit from eating pickles, as they regulate their blood sugar levels.

Moreover, a 2013 study included 14 healthy adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. The study participants who consumed pickles at dinner had decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to those who did not. The study concluded that pickles could be eaten with meals if someone is looking for a very simple technique to help lower their blood sugar.

In another study, unfermented pickles were shown to improve your body’s response to insulin and lower your blood sugar after meals. This was the result of unfermented pickles slowing down the process of absorbing carbohydrates after eating and preventing blood sugar levels from going up.

Improves Digestion

Pickles have high levels of probiotics, and probiotics are referred to as “good bacteria” because they generally help in improving or restoring the gut microbiota. Everyone has a different gut microbiota that is influenced by several factors. Factors that include our lifestyles, stress levels, diet, exercise, and medications.

woman holding stomach

One study found that eating pickles helps in the digestion of fiber, which enhances nutritional absorption and generates healthy fatty acids and vitamins. These living bacteria aid in the digestion of foods and challenging substances such as lactose. Thus, eating pickles before you go to sleep improves digestion when the digestive system slows down.

Side Effects of Pickles

Might Make You Feel Nauseous

If you are sensitive to cucurbitacin or decide to consume a large number of pickles (regardless of which type), you may experience intense gastrointestinal ****discomfort when you wake up. However, the number of cases where people woke up feeling nauseous after consuming pickles is rare but present.

Liver and Kidney Stress

Eating too many pickles means having too much sodium enter your system, which can strain your kidneys and liver as they have to work harder. Furthermore, the elevated blood pressure that frequently results from meals high in sodium strains these organs even more.

According to WebMD straining your liver and kidneys from consuming too many pickles can lead to liver and kidney diseases that could easily be avoided. As a result, anyone who has liver or kidney problems should avoid consuming excessive amounts of pickles.

Increases The Chances of Getting Gastric Cancer

Eating too many pickles in general can have negative effects on your health and your body, including increasing your chances of getting gastric cancer. Moreover, eating pickled food may be responsible for co-carcinogens.

In one study, the authors were able to find a correlation between pickles and gastric cancer with the use of 60 studies as references. Also, they found that all the results from the studies showed an average 50% increase in the risk of gastric cancer in those who ate pickled vegetables/foods compared to those who did not.

FAQs About Pickles

Can Pickles Result in Weight Loss?

Pickles will not make you lose weight, but they can help if you’re following a very strict diet. You could have pickles as a midnight snack. This is a result of pickles being incredibly low in calories, and depending on the size, one pickle could only add five to ten calories. You can eat pickles as a tasty and crunchy snack, as they have plenty of salt and a strong flavor.

Are Pickles Beneficial to Our Sleeping Quality?

Pickles contain a small amount of magnesium, and magnesium supplements have been shown to help improve the quality and duration of sleep. However, pickles alone do not directly affect your sleep, but because they relax muscle cramps and relax your digestive system, they can help you sleep more peacefully.

How Many Pickles Can I Eat Daily?

There are no specific amounts of pickles that are recommended, as they differ from one person to another. However, just one large dill pickle has more than 2/3 of the ideal amount of sodium an average adult should have for the whole day.

Great Midnight Snack Recipe Ideas With Pickles

#1 Pickle Grilled Cheese Sandwich

pickle grilled cheese sandwich

Consider this a simple escape from yet another basic salad if you're wanting to mix up your typical lunch routine. With all the appeal of a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, this sourdough sandwich amps up the saltiness with dill pickles; you may even put sweet pickles on it.

#2 Crispy Air Fryer Dill Pickles

air fryer pickles

You can try air-fried pickles, as they are the perfect snack with something a little bit unique. Before putting them in your air fryer, you'll roll them in bread crumbs and wait patiently. Serve them with a simple buffalo ranch sauce, cheese dip, or tzatziki sauce.

#3 Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

If you’re in the mood for a salad that’s simple to make and healthy for your gut, try this cooler pickle dish. You can enjoy this before bedtime and enjoy it out on the porch. This dish is very beneficial for your gut health as it incorporates both pickles and pickle juice.

Conclusion

You can easily find pickles on the shelves of any grocery store and in restaurants, and they can be severed into different forms, which makes pickles a great and easy midnight snack.

Pickles have several health benefits, which include improving muscle cramps because of the many nutrients they contain. Moreover, pickles can help lower your blood sugar and improve digestion due to the presence of vinegar and probiotics.

However, eating too many pickles before bed can have negative effects. Such as leaving you nauseous if you are sensitive to cucurbitacin, increasing the likelihood of gastric cancer, and causing liver and kidney damage.

There are several recipes you can create to enjoy eating pickles before bedtime in different ways. Also, pickles on their own can be a great idea for a midnight snack if you’re following a strict diet.

Sources:

  • Behera, S. S., El Sheikha, A. F., Hammami, R., & Kumar, A. (2020). Traditionally fermented pickles: How the microbial diversity associated with their nutritional and health benefits?. Journal of Functional Foods70, 103971.
  • Johnston, C. S., Quagliano, S., & White, S. (2013). Vinegar ingestion at mealtime reduced fasting blood glucose concentrations in healthy adults at risk for type 2 diabetes. Journal of Functional Foods5(4), 2007-2011
  • Kolasa, K. M., & Fletcher, M. (2022). Muscle cramps? Try pickle juice.
  • Ren, J. S., Kamangar, F., Forman, D., & Islami, F. (2012). Pickled Food and Risk of Gastric Cancer—a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of English and Chinese LiteraturePickled Food and Gastric Cancer. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention21(6), 905-915.
  • WebMD. (2022). Are there health benefits to eating pickles? pros and cons, nutrition information, and more. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-pickles#:~:text=Liver and Kidney Stress,liver disease or kidney conditions

Dom Abraham

Editorial Director

As the lead content writer at Sleepiverse. Dom pours his heart into writing mattress reviews, bedding product reviews, and medically-reviewed health articles. Dom is from Portugal and likes to spend his free time writing on the beach as it gives him a sense of comfort. Aside from writing mattress reviews in front of the soothing beach view, Dom likes to experiment with new amazing food ideas.