Are bread and butter pickles good for diabetics?

Quick Answers

Bread and butter pickles can be part of a healthy diet for diabetics when consumed in moderation. The main concerns are the carb and sodium content. One serving has about 13-15 grams of carbs and 350-470mg of sodium. This accounts for a significant portion of the daily recommended amounts for diabetics.

Pickles also tend to be high in sugar and preservatives. However, bread and butter pickles have less sugar than many other pickled products. The use of apple cider vinegar rather than white vinegar also provides some beneficial properties.

Overall, bread and butter pickles can be a good option for diabetics looking for a tasty low-carb snack. Portion control and accounting for the carbs and sodium in meals is important. Those with high blood pressure or on a low-sodium diet need to be especially mindful of intake.

Are Pickles Good for Diabetics?

Pickles can be a healthy addition to a diabetic diet when consumed in moderation. Here are some of the main considerations:

Carb Content

One of the biggest concerns for diabetics with pickles is the carb content. Pickles contain relatively few carbs compared to other snack options.

Most sweet and bread and butter pickles contain around:

– 13-15 grams of carbs per 1/3 cup serving
– 8-11 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup serving

This accounts for a significant portion of the recommended daily carb intake which is generally between 45-60 grams for diabetics.

The carb content comes from added sugar during the pickling process. However, bread and butter pickles are lower in sugar than many other pickled products.

Fiber Content

Pickles contain minimal fiber. A serving of bread and butter pickles has 1-2 grams of fiber.

The fiber content helps stabilize blood sugar response and improve digestive health. It also makes you feel fuller for longer.

So the low fiber content in pickles means they can cause blood sugar spikes soon after eating.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) measures how specific foods affect blood sugar levels.

Pickles have a low GI around 15-30. For comparison, table sugar has a GI of 65 and white bread around 70.

This means pickles should cause a relatively gradual rise in blood sugar compared to many other carb-based foods.

Sodium Content

Pickles tend to be high in sodium, ranging from 350-470mg per serving.

The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting sodium intake to no more than 2,300mg per day. Excess sodium causes increased blood pressure and other issues.

Those with diabetes have a higher risk of hypertension, making sodium content especially important.

Vinegar Content

The vinegar used in pickling provides some notable health benefits:

– Apple cider vinegar may improve insulin sensitivity. This helps reduce blood sugar spikes after eating.

– Vinegar can slow digestion of carbs. Again, this helps prevent blood sugar spikes.

So pickles made with apple cider vinegar have modest benefits for blood sugar control and insulin function compared to other pickled foods.

Preservatives & Additives

Pickle brands use different types of preservatives like calcium chloride and sodium benzoate.

These are considered safe but some people may have sensitivities. Pay attention to how your body reacts.

Some brands also use artificial colors and flavors. These provide no health benefits, so check the label.

Are Bread & Butter Pickles Good for Diabetics?

Bread and butter pickles have a few advantages over other pickled options:

Lower in Sugar

Many popular pickle varieties like sweet gherkins can have 20+ grams of sugar per serving.

Meanwhile bread and butter pickles have around 10-13 grams from the added sweeteners. This makes them one of the lower sugar varieties.

Still, the sugar content is high considering the small serving size. It’s important to portion these carefully.

Made with Apple Cider Vinegar

Bread and butter pickles tend to be made with apple cider vinegar rather than white distilled vinegar.

The acetic acid in vinegar slows digestion and may improve insulin sensitivity. Evidence shows apple cider vinegar has the strongest effect.

This gives bread and butter pickles a slight advantage for better controlling a blood sugar response.

Spices & Flavors

These pickles get their signature flavor from a blend of spices like mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, cloves, and allspice.

Certain spices like cinnamon and turmeric have anti-inflammatory benefits and can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

The other flavors also help make bread and butter pickles one of the tastier, more complex pickle options. This gives them an advantage for a frequent diabetic snack.

Texture & Crunch

Unlike many pickled cucumbers and relishes, bread and butter chips maintain their fresh crisp texture.

This makes them more satisfying and crunchy. It provides sensory appeal and enjoyment as a snack or addition to a meal.

Nutrition Facts

Here is the full nutrition breakdown for a 1/3 cup serving (about 3-4 pickle chips) of bread and butter pickles:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 40 2%
Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 350-470mg 15-20%
Potassium 90mg 2%
Carbs 13g 4%
Fiber 1g 3%
Sugar 10g 11%

As you can see, a serving accounts for 15-20% of the recommended daily sodium intake. The carb and sugar content is also significant at 13g and 10g respectively.

Effect on Blood Sugar

Here is how the carb, fiber, and sugar content in bread and butter pickles can affect your blood sugar:

– The 13g of carbs per serving will raise blood sugar as they are digested. This effect is gradual due to the low glycemic index.

– With only 1g of fiber, the pickle chips don’t slow digestion much or provide a sense of fullness. This leads to faster carb absorption.

– The 10g of sugar also breaks down quickly and causes a blood sugar spike soon after eating.

Altogether, a serving of bread and butter pickles can cause a moderate glycemic response. Your blood sugar may elevate 20-40 mg/dL within an hour after eating a serving.

This effect can vary person to person based on insulin function. Those with insulin resistance may see larger spikes.

Effect on Weight Loss

Here is how bread and butter pickles may affect weight management goals:

– With 40 calories per serving, pickles are a low calorie food. This makes them a good snack option when limiting total calorie intake for weight loss.

– However, the lack of protein, fat and fiber means they provide minimal satiety. You’re likely to feel hungry again soon after eating them.

– The high sodium content causes water retention, which can temporarily increase body weight.

For these reasons, bread and butter chips do not strongly support or inhibit weight loss. They provide a low calorie crunchy snack but lack satiating power.

Glycemic Load Comparison

Glycemic load accounts for the total impact of a food’s carbs on blood sugar. It is calculated by multiplying the grams of carbs by the food’s glycemic index.

Here is how the glycemic load of bread and butter pickles compares to other foods:

Food Serving Size Glycemic Load
Bread and butter pickles 1/3 cup 4-6
Banana 1 medium 12
Sweet potato 1/2 cup 17
Apple 1 medium 6
Orange 1 medium 5

As you can see, bread and butter pickles have a relatively low glycemic load compared to other fruits and starchy vegetables.

This reinforces that they only have a moderate effect on blood sugar levels.

Serving Size Recommendations

Here are some serving size recommendations for diabetics looking to incorporate bread and butter pickles:

– Limit to 1-2 servings (1/3 cup) per day max
– Consume alongside protein, fat, fiber
– Account for carbs/sodium in other meals
– Watch portions if also eating carb-heavy foods
– Rinse pickles to reduce sodium content

Consuming larger portions or multiple servings per day is not advised due to effects on blood sugar and sodium intake.

Healthier Alternatives

Here are some healthier pickle alternatives to bread and butter chips:

– Fresh cucumber slices – provide crunch without the sodium and sugar. Can be seasoned with vinegar, dill, spices.

– Pickled asparagus or green beans – contain more nutrients than cucumbers.

– Fermented pickles – contain probiotics and less sodium than vinegar-brined. Can be made at home.

– Reduced sodium pickles – contain 70% less sodium while maintaining flavor.

– No sugar added pickles – avoid blood sugar spikes from added sugars.

– Vegetable salad – get crunch from raw veggies like bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower. Boost nutrition and fiber.

Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Option

Follow these tips to choose the best quality bread and butter pickles:

– Seek out no sugar added or reduced sugar varieties

– Avoid pickles with artificial colors and flavors. Opt for natural ingredients.

– Choose brands that use apple cider vinegar instead of white distilled vinegar

– Compare sodium content and select lower sodium options

– Avoid pickles packed in high fructose corn syrup or sucrose solutions

– Select pickles packed in brine rather than oils

– Look for smaller, local pickle companies that use natural processes

– Choose organic when possible to avoid pesticide residue

Recipes and Serving Ideas

Here are recipe ideas for diabetics to get their bread and butter pickle fix:

Pickled Salad

Toss 1/4 cup bread and butter chips with mixed greens, shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. Top with roasted chickpeas or almonds for protein.

Pickle Roll Ups

Wrap pickle chips with thin slices of turkey, ham, or roast beef with mustard or horseradish sauce.

Pickle Chicken Salad

Mix diced chicken breast with chopped bread and butter pickles, celery, onion, plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and herbs. Eat scooped onto cucumbers.

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and honey. Toss with shredded Brussels sprouts and top with bread and butter pickle chips.

Loaded Baked Potato

Top a baked potato with sautéed onions, bread and butter pickles, and reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Pickle Juice Vinaigrette

Whisk together pickle juice, olive oil, Dijon, and herbs. Toss with mixed greens or roasted vegetables.

Potential Downsides

Here are some of the potential downsides of bread and butter pickles for diabetics:

– Spike blood sugar due to sugars and high glycemic load

– Provide very little fiber or protein

– High in sodium, especially for those limiting salt intake

– Often made with preservatives and artificial ingredients

– Can increase inflammation for some people due to vinegar

– May contribute to weight gain if consumed in large amounts

– Contain less nutrients than fresh vegetables and fruits

– Potential risk from bacteria if homemade and improperly fermented


Here are some precautions to take with bread and butter pickles:

– Stick to proper serving size, avoid overeating

– Rinse pickles before eating to remove excess sodium

– Read nutrition labels closely and compare brands

– Watch for added sugars or unhealthy oils

– Introduce new brands slowly to check for tolerability

– Avoid doubles servings or pairing with other high carb foods

– Account for carbs, sodium, and sugar when planning meals

– Skip if you have high blood pressure or existing heart risks

– Pick refrigerated options and avoid moldy jars

Interactions with Medications

Here are some potential medication interactions to consider:


The vinegar in pickles can enhance the blood thinning effects of aspirin. This may increase risk of bleeding or bruising.

Insulin & Diabetes Medications

Pickles can cause spikes in blood sugar. You may need to adjust insulin dosing and medication timing if consuming pickles regularly.


Pickles may increase lithium absorption and risk of toxicity. Monitor lithium levels and side effects closely.

Blood Pressure Medications

The high sodium content can reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure drugs. Consult your doctor if eating pickles regularly.

Always talk to your doctor about possible interactions with new foods and how pickles fit into your diet given your current medications.

Bottom Line

Bread and butter pickles can be included as part of a healthy diabetic diet when portion sizes are controlled and carbs/sodium accounted for. Select no sugar added or reduced sodium options whenever possible. Eat in moderation alongside foods that provide protein and fiber. Alternating with fresh veggies can help limit the downsides of regular pickled foods. Overall, bread and butter chips are a better choice than many pickled products but should still be consumed sensibly.

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