Health Benefits of Pickles or Achar – The indian Context
Most Indians cannot live without pickles or achar accompanying their meals. Though, most new age Indians are unaware of the powerful health benefits of pickles or achar.
In India pickles are made with & without oil, salt and/or sugar and even in water. A variety of spices are added to them for their flavour and therapeutic benefits. This makes pickles a powerhouse of nutrition. Achar provides that much needed zing, tang and spice to our meals. And their health benefits far exceed the taste.
Having a couple of teaspoons of pickle or achar is actually good for your health. Though, people with ailments should be aware of their side effects. If you suffer from ulcers, blood pressure or diabetes. you may have to exercise caution. The mantra should be eat pickles as a pickle and not as a vegetable main course.
Almost everything can be pickled, vegetables, fruits and/or meats. Homemade pickles tend to be the best. They do not have preservatives like iodine, anti-caking agents, potassium iodide and sodium benzoate. Let’s read more about health benefits of achar.
Nutrition & health benefits of achar
The spices, especially hing, in Indian pickles or achar assists in breaking of fat easily. They make achar rich in antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals. Asafoetida or hing used in achar is a great digestive. It also helps with respiratory disorders. It lowers sugar levels by pancreatic simulation. It also improves blood flow.
Pickling preserves the nutrition and fibre content of the vegetables and fruits by fermenting them. Since there isn’t direct heat applied most of nutritious content is preserved. In fermented pickles healthy bacteria help to break down the hard-to-digest cellulose in foods. Some natural sugar is also broken down. This assists in keeping fermented food safe and less likely to spoil. This also helps in increase of good bacteria in your gut when achar is eaten. Achar is also high in vitamin K which is great for blood clotting in case of injuries.
Oil based achar in India has its own health benefits. Mustard oil that is a usual medium for achar simulates aids in digestion. This happens by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices and bile from spleen and liver. Mustard oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (MUFA and PUFA respectively) as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These acids balance the cholesterol levels. They increase good cholesterol or HDL and decrease bad cholesterol or LDL. This minimizes the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Exercise Caution while considering health benefits of pickles or achar
If you have diabetes, heart issues or have suffered from a stroke or hypertension, avoid pickles or achar. Additional salt intake via achar may aggravate the persisting health issue. Consuming achar like a vegetable main can also cause a sizeable disruption to your digestive system.