Pickle or “Achar”, word creates an instant image of food with a burst of flavors, colors, and mouth-watering appearance for most of the Indians. But hang on…what about the oil, the salt, the calorie and of course the fat in it !!? Are you the one abstaining from your favorite pickle presuming it will make you fat or will elevate your blood pressure or will create acidity? It has been more than a decade that we have reduced the power of pickle to only high sodium, fat, and calorie. But enough. The benefits of the Indian pickle will rather surprise you.
Benefits of the Indian pickle?
If you are an Indian in your mid-thirties or above, you must have seen your grandmother spending afternoons making a variety of pickles. The process is quite engaging. The benefits of Indian pickle lies in its quality of oil, salt & spices, and in the process of fermentation.
During fermentation, the sugars of the primary ingredient (could be vegetable/ fruit – mango/ lemon/chili/ tomato, etc) break down and turn to lactic acid holding the probiotic (good) bacteria. Lactic acid act as a natural preservative and consuming this probiotic improves the health of our gut microbiota, digestive system and enhances immunity.
Indian spices are known for their numerous medicinal properties worldwide. The assemblage of spices like -turmeric, red chili powder, garlic, curry leaves, asafoetida (hing), seeds like fenugreek (methi), mustard, cumin, coriander, etc. to pickle, boost immunity, improve digestion and impart antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties to a large extent.
Using unrefined cold-pressed oil (such as kachhi ghani mustard oil/ gingelly oil/ coconut oil/ groundnut oil etc.) makes the pickle rich in vitamin A, D, E, K, and also provide anti-inflammatory properties which help to keep your hormones in balance. Similarly addition of unrefined salt like rock/black/pink salt assures the inclusion of various essential minerals in the pickle.
Which pickle shall I buy?
If you are planning to buy a large jar of pickles soon, then you are highly mistaken. No matter how “natural” they claim, most of the pickles available in the market are loaded with refined oil, refined salt, synthetic vinegar, chemicals, and preservatives which kills all the goodness of pickles that I have mentioned above. Then what to do? Make it, choose your favorite pickle as per the season and prepare at home. It will take some time to get the final product but trust me it won’t take more than 5 to 20 minutes a day depending on the stage of the procedure. Homemade traditional Indian pickles are one of the best concoctions of health that you must enjoy with your meal. If you cannot manage the time at all then look for quality to ensure the benefits of Indian pickle. There are many small women’s groups in India who follow the traditional recipe to make pickles and sell at a reasonable price.
But, it’s too much of oil… will Indian pickle make me fat ?
Still, thinking about calories? Fat? I really doubt, do these thoughts come when you eat junk- french fries, instant noodles, or pizza in your favorite fast-food chain? No right? Good things are to be taken in a limited amount. So a spoon full of pickles is enough. Pickle will NOT make you fat even if you are trying for weight loss. Pickle will help to reduce inflammation and will create a better hormonal balance favorable for your weight loss.
Also, read – How to pick the best cooking oil in India
Neither brain nor heart, start listening to your gut
Bottom line –
Stop being hesitant to eat Indian pickles. The best way to ensure all its benefits is to follow the traditional recipe and make it at home. If not possible, then pick your pickle carefully. Do not overeat. Remember one teaspoon is enough to provide all the benefits of Indian pickle. So instead of chewing biscuits/chips, save calories for something way better and tastier. Think about it.
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