Is It Safe To Eat Pickles During Pregnancy?

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Many women crave pickles during pregnancy. However, they remain unsure whether eating them would be healthy for their baby or not. Pickles are low in nutritional value and high in sodium. When eaten in small quantities, they do not harm the growing fetus in any way. However, if taken in excess, they may cause health complications and affect the growth of the fetus. Therefore, it is best to consult your doctor about the right amount of pickle you can have. You may also read our post for details on the safety of having pickles during pregnancy, their benefits, and the associated risks of excessive consumption.

Is It Safe To Eat Pickles During Pregnancy?

Pickle is one of the most craved foods during pregnancy. Most women want to eat pickles throughout their pregnancy, while some may only have cravings in certain months. If you think you are having an excessive craving for pickle suddenly, you are most likely not the only one. Eating small amounts of pickle or pickle juice is alright, as long as you don’t have any reaction to it (1).

Pickles have very less nutritional value. One ounce of pickle may contain no amount of protein, fat or cholesterol and less than one gram of carbohydrates (2). This is less than 0.1 percent of the amount of carbohydrates you should ideally have on a daily basis while you are pregnant. Pickle juice does contain high amounts of vitamin C and sodium. It also contains very small amounts of potassium.

As long as you are not overdoing it, eating pickles will not harm you or your unborn baby. In fact, eating pickles in moderation may actually do you some good while you are pregnant.

Helps Maintain Proper Balance Of Electrolytes In Your Body

Potassium and sodium are the two main electrolytes in your body. These are minerals that help in conducting electrical transmissions in your body. When you are pregnant, your body starts retaining more amount of fluid. During these months, your baby’s needs from your body also increase. This causes an increase in your body’s need of electrolyte. Pickle juice contains some amount of potassium and a good amount of sodium (2). Eating pickles during pregnancy in moderation can help you meet these growing needs.

Risk To Your Unborn Baby And You From Excess Sodium Content In Pickles

Pickles contain a very high amount of sodium. This can negate any benefits that eating pickles may have during pregnancy. The high quantity of sodium can actually be very dangerous for both your unborn baby and you if taken regularly over a period of time.

When you eat too much sodium it can make you feel dehydrated. An overdose of sodium can also lead to high blood pressure. When you are pregnant, you are the only source of nutrition for your baby. High levels of sodium in your body will also have a negative impact on your unborn baby’s growth and development. Study published in The American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology’s August 2011 demonstrated that too much sodium can affect the development of fetal kidneys in mice (3). It can also increase the risk of high blood pressure in babies in the later years.

During your pregnancy, the many changes happening inside your body can lead to an increase in your blood pressure. This can cause a dangerous condition known as gestational hypertension, also known as GH or accentuate existing pre eclampsia/ eclampsia conditions. Gestational hypertension can cause a spike in your blood pressure, can cause seizures (eclampsia), cause damage to the kidneys and also damage your blood vessels. It can also lead to swelling in the brain, cause a loss in protein and affect the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your baby.

In case of GH, a low sodium diet can sometimes help alleviate the conditions. In severe cases, the baby may need to be delivered immediately. This can be risky for your unborn baby, if the delivery is too premature. It can also risk baby’s chances of survival. A high intake of sodium can often turn a mild case of GH into a severe one. It is highly recommended to keep sodium intake limited as suggested by your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I crave pickles during pregnancy?

Women may crave pickles because of (4)

  • Hormonal changes
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Cultural inclination towards cravings

2. Do pickles help pregnancy nausea?

Most women find that bland foods help them with pregnancy nausea. However, some women may notice that pickles and other spicy food provide better relief (5).

Despite their lack of nutritious value, pickles contribute flavor and stimulate your taste buds with their sour and sweet flavor. If you are craving pickles during pregnancy, you may safely consume them to curb your cravings as long as you have them in limited quantities. But don’t overeat them as it may lead to pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure caused due to increased salt levels, which can also harm the baby’s health. Also, consult your doctor to learn about its consumption to prevent any probable adverse effects.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Natalia C. Orloff and Julia M. Hormes; (2014); Pickles and ice cream! Food cravings in pregnancy: hypotheses, preliminary evidence, and directions for future research
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/
  2. Pickles, sweet (includes bread and butter pickles), cucumber.
    https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Pickles%2C_sweet_%28includes_bread_and_butter_pickles%29%2C_cucumber_nutritional_value.html?size=1+ounce+%3D+28.3495+g
  3. Nadezda Koleganova et al., (2011); Both high and low maternal salt intake in pregnancy alter kidney development in the offspring.
    ttps://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajprenal.00626.2010
  4. Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Pickles?
    ttps://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajprenal.00626.2010
  5. What helps nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
    https://www.hancockregionalhospital.org/2017/01/what-helps-nausea-vomiting-pregnancy/
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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Dr. Arpita Chakraborty

(MS)
Dr. Arpita Chakraborty practices at Bombay Hospital, Mumbai. She has passed her medical training with distinction and bagged gold medals in various subjects. She trained in advanced laparoscopy at Bombay Hospital and did FOGSI Certified Course in Obstetrics Ultrasonography.  She has various publications to her credit and has attended conferences across India. She was awarded the first prize in State... more

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