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Why Everyone's Obsessed With Pickle Juice

And why you may want to be, too.

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Photograph of pickles in a jar with pickle juice.
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After a long intense run on a hot day, open the fridge and take a swig of … deli brine? Seriously. Fitness fans of all levels are now hydrating themselves with pickle juice — as in, the salty-yet-tangy liquid used to turn cucumbers into pickles. At the Pickle Guy in New York City, people in exercise gear come in droves to order a shot of off-the-menu juice straight from the barrel. And per Sports Illustrated, tennis stars and NHL players have been spotted chugging it.

So bottoms up on a jar of pickles?! That’s the au naturel way — and, yes, many gym rats will swill. You can also make your own by pickling cucumbers in a jar with vinegar, salt and garlic. As for the prepackaged “Pickle Juice” containers located in the vitamin aisles? You’ll get a 75 ml shot with a vinegar base that’s mixed with filtered water. But the substance doesn’t contain any juice from pickles — just a mixture of water, vinegar, salt and vitamins. (The flavor of the drink comes from the addition of natural dill oil.)

Why is it so healthy? Drinking electrolytes — a mix of sodium and potassium — after a tough, sweaty workout replaces lost fluids and helps keep muscles functioning. The high-sodium, low-calorie pickle juice is loaded with the stuff. (Example: There’s 210 mg of sodium in one serving (one ounce) of a Vlasic Kosher Dill pickle.) That means less cramping and muscle aches. And if you stay away from the sweetened pickles, you don’t get the added sugar found in flavored sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade.

What are the other benefits? Pickle juice also contains a decent level of antioxidants and vitamins C and E, which help boost your immune system function. Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research showed that drinking a small serving of vinegar before a meal can help regulate blood sugar levels after the meal, especially for those with type 2 diabetes.

What else should I know? Anyone with high blood pressure or on low-sodium diet should step away from the brine. You also shouldn’t drink up if you have heart disease. (As always, talk to your doctor before trying any new diet.) And remember: Pickle juice isn’t a magical cure-all elixir — you should keep drinking fluids all day for proper hydration.

What if pickle juice grosses me out? The sour delicacy is not for everybody. Gordy’s Fine Brine, available in canned form, can be imbibed straight up or poured in everything from Bloody Mary cocktails and martinis to chimichurri. But if you’re really in a pickle, try an electrolyte-enhanced water instead.