Millions of people love pickles and their juice has been widely touted for many uses health benefits and remedies, including use as a post-workout drink and athletic performance enhancer, flavoring for foods, flavor enhancer in recipes and drinks, vinegar replacement, meat-tenderizer, hiccup stopper, PMS reliever, heartburn reliever and hangover remedy. If you are one of the many people who like pickles and/or pickle juice, you may want to think again after a look at the ingredients commonly found in commercial pickles and their juice.
In addition to water, cucumbers and distilled cucumbers, pickle juice typically contains:
Refined table salt: Table salt is used as a preservative. Unlike Himalayan or sea salt, which has natural salt and numerous beneficial minerals, refined salt has been chemically stripped of minerals and dried above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (which alters the natural chemical structure of the salt). The processed salt is not pure sodium chloride but is actually only 97.5 percent sodium chloride. The remaining 2.5 percent of refined salt is made up of anti-caking and flow agents. Often, such agents include dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate.
Calcium chloride: : Though the FDA deems calcium chloride (CaCl2) to be “generally recognized as safe”, in the UK it is listed as a hazardous irritant which “causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory organs” and it carries the warning “Harmful if inhaled or swallowed.”
Sodium Benzoate: : Is a preservative which has been linked to cancer. See the first link below.
Polysorbate 80: Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in food items and is also a common ingredient in vaccines. According to the Polysorbate 80 Material Safety Data Sheet, it may be carcinogenic as well as mutagenic. When injected into prepubescent rats, polysorbate 80 caused abnormal growth of reproductive organs and made the rats sterile. Polysorbate 80 could also be harmful to people with Crohn’s disease.
Natural Flavor: The term “natural flavoring” has been used to mask a number of unhealthy ingredients and there are over 1000 ingredients that fall under the U.S. FDA guidelines as “Natural Flavors”.
Yellow #5: Yellow #5 is a food coloring agent which is also known as “Tartrazine” which belongs to the large class of food dyes known as “azo” dyes. Yellow 5 causes the most allergic reactions of all of the azo dyes on the market. It has been known to cause headaches, overheating, itching, blurred vision, and many other side-effects in people who are sensitive to the dye. In addition, the combination of Yellow #5 and sodium benzoate has been linked to hyperactivity. Due to its adverse effects in those who are sensitive to Yellow #5, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has called for a ban of the dye in the United States.
Safe pickles and safe uses for pickle juice
The good news is that when you can your own pickles at home and avoid using ingredients like the ones above you can enjoy the pickles and use the juice for the many benefits touted for pickle juice. And, homemade or not, you can also use pickle juice for non-edible uses such as using it as a cleaning agent and as a weed killer – just be sure to wear gloves if you use commercial pickle juice.