Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Pickles?

pickles, preserved gherkins in glass jar on green background
Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Pickles?MirageC / Moment - Getty Images

Pregnancy cravings can span the grocery store, from sweet to savory snacks. We all have food cravings—pregnant or not—and there are a variety of reasons why. For example, you might crave salty foods if your body is low in sodium (among other reasons). But what makes pregnancy food cravings different? And what's the deal with pregnant women allegedly craving pickles more than usual?

About 50 to 90 percent of U.S. women experience food cravings during pregnancy, according to a 2014 review of literature in Frontiers in Psychology. With limited research on the foods being craved, the researchers conducted a small study and found that the most common cravings were for sweets, calorically dense savory carbohydrates like pizza and chips, animal proteins, and fruits. Some of their hypotheses for cravings involve fluctuating hormone levels, nutritional deficits, ingredients in craved foods, and cultural and psychological factors.

But why do we hear so much about pickles and pregnant women? There's not much—if any—concrete evidence about why pregnant women crave them.

In a 2004 study, about 76 percent of pregnant women had abnormal smell or taste perception. And 26 percent of respondents experienced taste sensitivity, which could include sensitivity to bitter foods or decreased sensitivity to salty foods. Pickles are salty, so if you have a decreased sensitivity to salt, this could explain why you might be craving them. But keep in mind, pickles are high in sodium, so be sure to keep an eye on your intake.

Given that people think of pregnancy cravings as strange, it might also likely that pickles became known as a common pregnancy food just because of the oddity of it all.

Looking for some ways to satisfy your pickle craving? Check out our favorite pickle recipes and our picks for the best pickles you can buy.

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