Food & Diet

Unhealthy Ingredients Found in Pickles and Pickle Juice

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There are not many people in this world who don’t like pickles. They are tasty and contain almost no calories. Pickles as well as pickle juice have long been used for various health benefits (relieving heartburn, healing hangovers, relieving PMS pain, etc), as well as for improving and enhancing the taste of many foods and drinks. However, they are not as healthy as we think; there are many ingredients contained in pickles and pickle water that we are often trying to avoid in order to stay healthy.

Almost every package of pickles contains the following ingredients:

Calcium Chloride (CaCl2). According to the FDA, this is basically safe for human use, but the health departments in the UK disagree, and they claim that consuming this substance can lead to irritation of respiratory organs and skin.

Natural Flavor. This allegedly natural flavor is actually there to cover the taste of unhealthy, usually artificial ingredients, and these are accepted and approved by the U.S. FDA, but it is clear that their consumption is not healthy.


Refined Table Salt. This is a variety of salt stripped of all the minerals and with an altered chemical structure. This salt is used as a preservative and it is nothing like natural, healthy and beneficial salt. It contains 97.5% of sodium chloride and 2.5% of flow agents, including chemicals that could be very dangerous for humans, such as ferrocyanide.

Polysorbate 80. A substance used for the preparation of vaccines as well as many foods, it is thought to be carcinogenic and mutagenic by the Polysorbate 80 Material Safety Data Sheet. The evidence of its harmfulness has been proven in an animal study where it was injected into rats, where all the injected rats became sterile and their reproductive organs augmented.

Yellow #5. This is a substance that colors foods and it has been shown to cause an allergic reaction in people who consume it. In fact, this is a food dye that may be the most harmful of all food dyes. It can cause a wide variety of side effects, some of them being headaches and overheating, and when combined with sodium benzoate it can even cause hectic behavior and hyperactivity. Because many people are sensitive to this dye and have experienced the symptoms we mentioned, a ban of this dye has been suggested by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Hopefully, it will soon become a prohibited ingredient.

So does this mean you should stop eating pickles? Absolutely not. You can make your own pickles and use only the healthy ingredients, while avoiding the ones mentioned in this article. Unfortunately, usually all the brands of pickles you can find on the shelves in your local stores are probably packed with these unhealthy substances, with the occasional addition of sugar. However, if you don’t want, or don’t have the time to make your own pickles at home, you can check with your neighbors or local people in your town – it might take some time but eventually you will find a person who makes more pickles than they need and will be willing to sell you some. That way you will know that you are buying a good and natural product.