Are Pickles Good For You During Pregnancy? An Expert Explains

Ad failed to load

Pregnancy cravings are notoriously strange. It's as if all bets are off the minute a woman tests positive for pregnancy and anything goes. Chocolate shake in the middle of the night? Normal. Saltines and tomato soup for breakfast? Been there, right? However, the one craving that seems to be universal is for pickles. Pickles and ice cream, pickles and peanut butter sandwiches, deep fried dill slices — it doesn't matter. Pickles are the food of growing a baby. But are pickles good for you during pregnancy?

Pickles in and of themselves aren't the healthiest food out there. And it's posited by Frontiers in Psychology that these cravings happen because we've been conditioned to think they're supposed to happen. Therefore, our brain tells our mouths and our bodies that they are craving this thing it's supposed to crave. That means that because you've heard your entire life that you're supposed to crave pickles while you're pregnant, when you become pregnant, you crave pickles. A simpler explanation is that many women crave salty foods during pregnancy, and pickles are salty and delicious. However, what most women don't know is that some of their favorite pickles, like the popular Italian giardiniera, have nutrients necessary for pregnancy that become easier to digest during the high-heat commercial pickling process.

Ad failed to load

Some foods contain nutrients that become more bioavailable — that is, your body can process them easier — when they're cooked. While home pickling and quick pickling don't serve to make foods more bioavailable, unless you're going as far as to steam the vegetables during the process, the canning process of a commercial kitchen does this quite nicely.

However, this isn't the case for cucumbers and your typical dill pickle. It's only the widely popular Italian pickled carrots, cauliflower, tomato, and bell pepper combination of giardiniera that benefit from this cooking process. They contain a nutrient called lycopene that is made available after these vegetables are steamed. Lycopene is a powerhouse nutrient for pregnant women. As the Women's Health Center of Texas notes, lycopene is not only good for the baby, but also helps prevent preeclampsia in the mother.

Here's the rub, though. You have to take into account how much salt your pickles contain, and shy away from high salt varieties, because that would negate the possible blood pressure related benefits, and potentially have the opposite of the intended effect, according to Healthline. The one surprising health benefit of pickles during pregnancy only applies if you're careful.

Ad failed to load

I wanted to learn more about your average dill pickle, so I asked nutritionist Katie Heddleston, MS RD to find out if they have any purported benefits that pop up during pregnancy, and she tells Romper, "There really isn't any nutritional benefit for women to eat pickles while pregnant, other than to satisfy that craving if it occurs." Even though that's nothing to sneeze at, as the cravings can be irritating as heck, it's a bit disappointing that we can't shout their benefits to the rooftops and claim some moral high ground for a love of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches that may continue long after we're no longer pregnant. (I swear, it's so good.)

Heddleston reiterated the importance of choosing the right pickle for your health, noting, "...pregnant women should consume pickles with extra water due to their high sodium content. And if a pregnant mother knows she is susceptible to high blood pressure from previous pregnancies, she may want to actually avoid pickles and other high sodium containing foods."

Ad failed to load

So dill pickles and those delicious deli half-sour pickles aren't a nutritional panacea. And it should be noted that while many women notice that the sour pickles help ease their nausea, the website for Dr. Sears cautioned against eating them on an empty stomach because they induce the production of saliva, which can trigger morning sickness if it hits an empty stomach.

But crunchy pickled carrots and cauliflower? Eat up — you might be helping your body and your heart.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger