December 12, 2018
Pickles are an indelible part of the Indian cuisine. One look at this spicy accompaniment to Indian breads and rice dishes is enough to make our mouths water. We eat it with parathas, curd rice, puris and just about anything and everything we can pair it with. Some people even love to just gobble the spicy goodness without needing anything to pair it with. From carrots to mangoes, lemons, red and green chillies, and even fish and chicken, we Indians pickle almost everything. After all, what’s the point of food that hasn’t been spiced well? Several people are in the habit of devouring pickles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as they need that kick of spices and flavour with each and every meal.But, is it healthy to eat pickles everyday? Some would like to argue that pickles are healthy because they are made by fermenting food stuff and hence, are great for the gut. However, Indian pickles are also full of sodium, due to the presence of excessive amounts of salt. Moreover, they contain a lot of oil, which is added to them to preserve them and prevent any fungal infestations. It is common knowledge that foods that are high in salt and grease are bad for the heart, increase levels of cholesterol in the body and are detrimental for our overall health. This is because the oil contains hydrogenated or trans-fats, which are the worst kind of fats to consume.
Trans-fat is responsible for the increase of Low Density Lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol in the body, which may lead to heart ailments, obesity and other problems. Excessive salt content of our pickles is also bad for the body and may cause bloating, water retention, high blood pressure, and a number of other problems. According to macrobiotic nutritionist and health practitioner Shilpa Arora, “The spices (in pickles) can irritate the digestive system. Also, cheap oils have trans-fats that are extremely dangerous and toxic for the liver.” However, it’s not all glum and gloomy for pickle-lovers. There are ways that we can consume pickle without them resulting in these aforementioned health issues.
Shilpa Arora suggests some ways to make your pickles healthier: “Pickle is a traditional way to ferment veggies and eat them throughout the year. This preservation if done with wholesome ingredients using mustard oil and spices in the right proportion are healthy for the gut, as fermentation process generates healthy gut bacteria that reboot the body.” Adding a word of caution about overindulging in pickles, Arora said, “Pickles should be used in moderation and the ingredients should be selected carefully.” Although these ‘healthier’ versions of your regular pickles are bound to taste different, you will be able to indulge in them more freely, without having to worry about unnecessary hazards to your health.