One of the most common cravings during pregnancy is pickles or pickle juice. While small amounts of pickle juice are safe, the high sodium concentrations in pickle juice are dangerous for both the expecting mother and her developing baby. Still, you can safely satisfy your cravings by diluting small amounts in water, adding pickle juice to other foods or limiting your intake.
Pickle juice contributes almost nothing to your body's daily macronutrient needs. One ounce of dill pickle juice contains no calories, fat, cholesterol or protein. With less than 1 gram of carbohydrates in 1 ounce, a serving of pickle juice contains less than 0.1 percent of your daily carbs. Despite this minimal nutritional value, pickle juice contains small amounts of potassium and is high in sodium and vitamin C. With 13.7 percent of your sodium and approximately 8 percent of your vitamin C, an ounce of pickle juice is a good source of these nutrients. Sweet pickle juice is low in sodium, but contains over 16 carbohydrates in 1 tablespoon.
Electrolytes are minerals that help to conduct electrical transmissions throughout your body. As potassium and sodium are two of your body's main electrolytes, pickle juice helps you to maintain proper electrolyte balance during your pregnancy. Due to the increasing amounts of fluid in your body and the needs of your developing baby, your body's electrolyte needs increase slightly during pregnancy. Adding small amounts of pickle juice can help you to meet these needs, ensuring that you and your baby remain healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Despite the benefits of maintaining a proper electrolyte balance, the high sodium content of pickle juice makes it potentially dangerous in large amounts. Eating too much sodium can leave you feeling dehydrated and increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. As your developing baby derives all of her nutrition from your diet, she also feels the effects of your excessive sodium intake. According to the August 2011 issue of "American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology," this can alter the development of your baby's kidneys and potentially increase her risk of high blood pressure later in life.
The physiological changes that occur over the course of a normal pregnancy temporarily increase your risk of high blood pressure. This leads to a potentially dangerous condition known as gestational hypertension, or GH. Aside from increasing your blood pressure, this condition causes brain swelling, seizures, kidney damage, protein loss and damage to your blood vessels and those supplying your baby with nutrients and oxygen. While a low sodium diet helps to relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate cases of GH, the only remedy for severe cases is immediate delivery of your baby. Depending on his gestational age, this early delivery may decrease his risk of surviving the pregnancy. As excessive sodium intake can lead mild cases of GH to become severe, you should limit your intake of pickle juice during your pregnancy.
- Parenting: Weird Pregnancy Cravings
- Shopwell.com: Original Goldin Pickle Juice, Dill
- Vanderbilt University: Pickle Juice: Food Fad or Fool-Proof Fix
- NutritionRank.com: Sweet Pickle Juice, 1 Tablespoon
- Sports Science Exchange: Sodium: The Forgotten Nutrient
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes
- American Journal of Physiology -- Renal Physiology: Both high and low maternal salt Intake in Pregnancy Alter Kidney Development in the Offspring
- GYNOB: Hypertension in Pregnancy
- Parents: What's Behind Those Cravings?