One health benefit of pickled ginger is its low calorie content. Two tablespoons, or 28 grams, has just 20 calories. Additionally, because pickled ginger has a strong flavor, you don’t need much to enjoy it – so eating this garnish won’t pile on the calories too quickly.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, pickled ginger has 0 grams of total fat. It is also free of saturated fat, an unhealthy fat that should make up not more than 5 to 6 percent of your daily caloric intake. A diet high in saturated fat can increase your blood cholesterol levels.
Pickled ginger also has 0 grams of added sugar, so it won’t contribute unnecessary calories. Women shouldn’t consume more than 24 grams of added sugar each day, and men need no more than 36 grams. This is equivalent to 6 and 9 teaspoons, respectively. Because added sugar offers nothing but extra calories, eating too much can lead to weight gain. Some brands might add sugar to pickled ginger, so be sure to check the nutrition label, if possible.
While pickled ginger is made with a brine of vinegar and salt, the finished product is low in sodium. One tablespoon may contain 65 to 215 milligrams, depending on the manufacturer. This is significantly less than other condiments that pair well with sushi, such as soy sauce, which has 1,110 milligrams of sodium in 1 tablespoon. The recommended daily intake of sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams, but the average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams each day. A diet high in sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, one of the major risk factors of heart disease.
As a fermented food, pickled ginger offers “good” bacteria called probiotics. These live microbes are beneficial for intestinal balance and digestive health. A 2014 review in Biotechnology Research International shares that probiotics also enhance gastrointestinal function, improve immunity and lower the risk of colon cancer. Pickled ginger that has been fermented for a long time typically has a higher probiotic content.
The main active components in ginger are called gingerols. These phenolic compounds, or plant compounds, are responsible for many of ginger’s antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits. Gingerols also contribute to the high nutritional quality of foods made with ginger, such as pickled ginger.