Are Pickles Bad for High Blood Pressure?
By Abigail Zieger
Pickles offer lots of great vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and many other health benefits. However, there is also a lot of salt in pickles, and too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Does this mean that pickles cause high blood pressure? Let’s take a look and see.
Are Pickles Bad for High Blood Pressure?
Nutritional Content in Pickles
Let’s examine the key nutrients in pickles. Specific nutrient percentages vary depending on which type of pickle you consume. Let’s use the classic dill pickle as an example.
In a 100g serving size, or about 3 spears, dill pickles contain the following daily values of vitamins and minerals:
- 4% riboflavin, or vitamin B2. This vitamin is important for the development and function of your body’s cells.1
- 4% thiamin, or vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is also important for your body’s cells, as well as helping to convert your food into the energy you need.2
- 3% vitamin B6, which is important for the metabolism, immune system, and for fetal and infant brain development.3
- 2.5% potassium, which is necessary for the function of the heart, kidneys, nerves, and muscles. Increased potassium intake may also help to lower blood pressure.4
- 14% vitamin K, an important nutrient for blood clotting and healthy bones.5
- 4 % calcium, a mineral that’s essential for strong bones and teeth.6
- 35% sodium, important for blood pressure, blood volume, and the function of your muscles and nerves. However, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, and other problems.7,8
There’s a lot of good in the humble dill pickle. If that pickle is lacto-fermented, you’ll have the additional benefits of improved digestibility and friendly probiotics that improve many aspects of human health.9
Sodium Content in Pickles
How much sodium is in pickles? As mentioned above, a 100g serving of dill pickles contains 808 mg of sodium, or 35% of the recommended daily sodium intake. Sodium is a necessary mineral that is important for many functions in the body. However, most research has shown that too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure.10
Do Pickles Cause High Blood Pressure?
Some research suggests that high pickle consumption may be associated with increased blood pressure. However, evidence in this regard is limited.11 Other studies, however, suggest that certain kinds of radish pickles may help to reduce blood pressure.12,13 More research may need to be done on the relationship between specific types of pickles and their effect on high blood pressure.
It should be kept in mind that pickles cannot bear sole responsibility for the entirety of one’s sodium consumption. The primary culprit of most Americans’ sodium oversupply is pre-packaged or prepared foods.14
If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about what dietary and lifestyle changes might help you maintain healthy blood pressure.
If you want to include pickles in your diet, consider the following ways you can consume them while being mindful of your sodium intake.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Try lessening your overall salt intake by replacing some prepared and pre-packaged foods with whole and made-from-scratch foods. You can also try making your own low- or no-salt pickles with these guiding principles for fermenting vegetables without salt.
Increase Potassium Intake
Potassium has been shown to reduce blood pressure,15 and is naturally present in cucumber pickles in small amounts. Some producers are working to create pickles that contain lower sodium and higher potassium for consumers who have high blood pressure or hypertension.16 These low-sodium pickles may be an excellent choice if you’re concerned about your blood pressure.
Eat More Garlic
Garlic is often a starring herb in pickles, particularly in kosher dill pickles. Garlic is a superfood, hailed for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and immune system supporting abilities.17 Garlic also has the ability to help lower blood pressure.
Garlic supplements have been shown to reduce blood pressure at a similar level as typical blood pressure medication.18, 19 More research may be needed to determine how garlic functions in specific pickle preparations. However, we do know that garlic is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, and fermented garlic has additional health benefits.
The Bottom Line
Pickles are high in sodium, and high sodium can lead to high blood pressure. However, pickles are just one part of the entire picture. If you are a pickle lover, here are several ways you can approach this problem.
- Watch your overall sodium intake.
- Consider a smaller portion of pickles.
- Choose pickles with higher levels of potassium.
- Choose pickles with more garlic.
- Make your own pickles with less salt or no salt.
You can enjoy the benefits of pickles in reasonable portions while following a healthy diet and exercise. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor about how you can best enjoy pickles.
- 1) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Riboflavin.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-Consumer/.
- 2) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Thiamin.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 July 2019, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-Consumer/.
- 3) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B6.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 Jan. 2021, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer/.
- 4) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Potassium.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 July 2019, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/.
- 5) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin K.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Feb. 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-Consumer/.
- 6) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Calcium.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 Dec. 2019, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/.
- 7) “Pickles, Dill.” Nutrition Facts for Pickles, Dill, Recommended Daily Values and Analysis., 2021, www.nutritionvalue.org/Pickles%2C_dill_nutritional_value.html.
- 8) Bridges, Meagan, et al. “Sodium in Diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 May 2020, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002415.htm.
- 9) Swain, Manas Ranjan, et al. “Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: a Potential Source of Probiotics.” Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058509/.
- 10) Youssef, Mona, et al. “Production of Low-Sodium Pickles for Hypertensive Patients.” Current Research Web, Middle East Journal of Agriculture Research, 15 Mar. 2017, www.curresweb.com/mejar/mejar/2017/99-106.pdf.
- 11) Rouhani, Mohammad, et al. “Pickle Consumption Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Blood Pressure among Iranian Female College Students: a Cross-Sectional Study.” Korea Med, Clinical Nutrition Research, 17 Sept. 2018, synapse.koreamed.org/upload/SynapseData/PDFData/0214cnr/cnr-7-256.pdf.
- 12) Oda, Kohei, et al. “Further Evidence That a New Type of Japanese Pickles Reduce the Blood Pressure of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Feb. 2015, academic.oup.com/bbb/article/79/2/307/5939434?login=true.
- 13) Tashiro, Kotaro, et al. “Consumption of Salted Pickles of Sun-Dried Radish Roots (Raphanus Sativus Cv. YR-Hyuga-Risou) Attenuates Blood Pressure in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Food Science and Technology Research, Japanese Society for Food Science and Technology, 27 Oct. 2017, www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/23/5/23_757/_article/-char/ja/.
- 14) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Sodium in Your Diet.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 2021, www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet.
- 15) Burnier, Michel. “Should We Eat More Potassium to Better Control Blood Pressure in Hypertension?” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 2 Jan. 2018, academic.oup.com/ndt/article/34/2/184/4782766?login=true#130437095.
- 16) Youssef, Mona, et al. “Production of Low-Sodium Pickles for Hypertensive Patients.” Current Research Web, Middle East Journal of Agriculture Research, 15 Mar. 2017, www.curresweb.com/mejar/mejar/2017/99-106.pdf.
- 17) Santhosha, S.G., et al. “Bioactive Components of Garlic and Their Physiological Role in Health Maintenance: A Review.” Food Bioscience, Elsevier, 16 July 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429213000473
- 18) Ried, Karin, and Peter Fakler. “Potential of Garlic (Allium Sativum) in Lowering High Blood Pressure: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Relevance.” Integrated Blood Pressure Control, Dove Medical Press, 9 Dec. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266250/.
- 19) Ried, Karin, et al. “Aged Garlic Extract Lowers Blood Pressure in Patients with Treated but Uncontrolled Hypertension: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” Maturitas, Elsevier, 1 July 2010, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378512210002276.
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Abigail is an aspiring homesteader, homeschooler, and music-maker. She lives with her husband and three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.