Pregnant women are notorious for having weird cravings for foods like pickles and ice cream. While dill pickles aren't the healthiest food you could eat during pregnancy, indulging in a pickle or two every once in a while isn't likely to cause harm. Eating large amounts of pickles during pregnancy, however, might make you more likely to suffer from swelling or heartburn.
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Calories and Macronutrients
Eating pickles isn't likely to cause you to exceed your daily recommended calories during pregnancy and gain too much weight. Dill pickles are low in both calories and fat. A medium pickle has only about 8 calories, as well as 0.1 gram of fat, 1.7 grams of carbohydrates and 0.4 gram of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
The main micronutrient you'll get from eating pickles is vitamin K, which is helpful for blood clotting. Each pickle has about 25.4 micrograms of, or 32 percent of the daily value for, this essential vitamin. Dill pickles provide trace amounts of other essential micronutrients as well, such as calcium, potassium, manganese and vitamin A.
The main problem caused by eating dill pickles during pregnancy comes from their high sodium content. Each pickle has 595 milligrams of sodium, which is about one-third of your daily sodium need during pregnancy. Getting too much sodium can increase your risk for high blood pressure, and during pregnancy it can make you more likely to suffer from swelling. Drinking plenty of water can help minimize this effect. Another option is to eat a low-sodium version of dill pickles instead, because these pickles have only about 12 milligrams of sodium each.
Potential for Heartburn
Pregnant women sometimes have problems with heartburn because pregnancy causes your body to produce more of the hormone progesterone. This hormone relaxes the valve that helps keep stomach acid and partially digested food from backing up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, you may want to limit your pickle consumption. The vinegar used to make pickles is acidic, and acidic foods sometimes make heartburn more likely.
Food Safety Considerations
While store-bought dill pickles are generally safe during pregnancy, you may want to stay away from homemade refrigerator pickles during pregnancy. The listeria bacteria can survive the process used to make this type of pickle, according to the North Dakota State University Extension, and this type of food poisoning is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. It can cause premature delivery, stillbirth, health problems for the baby or miscarriage.
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- WomensHealth.gov: Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Swelling During Pregnancy
- Linus Pauling Institute: Sodium (Chloride)
- Baby Center: Heartburn During Pregnancy
- North Dakota State University Extension: Prairie Fare: Pondering the Safety of Pickled Products
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Listeriosis (Listeria) and Pregnancy