The cucumber, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, is one of the world’s most nutritious foods. It’s in the same family as other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and squash.
There are two types of commercial production of this vegetable, which are known as slicing and pickling. Slicing cucumbers are typically larger with a thicker skin and are produced to be consumed fresh. This is what you would typically find in your grocery store and put on your salad. Pickling cucumbers, however, are smaller and have thinner skin. This type is produced with the intention of eventually being made into pickles. Here are some of the health benefits and the nutritional value of this amazing plant.
Cucumber Health Benefits
There are many health benefits of eating this specific vegetable. Here are some of them:
- it keeps you hydrated
- prevents constipation
- helps with weight maintenance
- acts as a pain reliever
- protects your bones
- reduces bad breath
- fights inflammation
- protects your skin from aging
- protects the brain from neurological diseases
- supports heart health
Some of these may be surprising since cucumbers are made up of 95% water. However, they also contain potassium. This helps lower your blood pressure and reduces your risk of a stroke and heart disease.
The cucumber also contains fisetin and polyphenols, which are powerful anti-inflammatories. These can help people maintain their cognitive health and fight off chronic diseases such as cancer. The anti-inflammatories can also help reduce pain.
The antioxidant benefits come from the vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Cucumbers also have several flavonoid antioxidants, some of which include quercetin, luteolin, apigenin, and kaempferol. Animal studies have shown that fresh extracts can provide specific antioxidant benefits, such as an increased scavenging of harmful free radicals and an increased overall capacity for antioxidants.
Fresh extracts have also proven themselves to reduce inflammation when tested in animal studies. This superfood does this by stopping the activity of any pro-inflammatory enzymes such as cyclo-oxygenase 2, and by stopping the overproduction of nitric oxide, which can increase the likelihood of inflammation.
The rich vitamin K content is essential for bone health and helps bones absorb the calcium that they need in order to stay strong.
All the water that this vegetable contains also help the body fight constipation and reduce bad breath by increasing the production of saliva.
Cucumbers are a great source of cucurbitacins. These nutrients have recently been studied to determine their effectiveness in fighting cancer. Scientists have determined that several of the signaling pathways that are required for cancer cells to develop and survive can be blocked by the activity of the cucurbitacins that are found in this vegetable.
Cucumber Nutritional Value
This superfood is very low in calories, yet high in nutrition. One cup of cucumber has only 16 calories, making it a low GI food. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. The daily values of these nutrients are 19% and 12% respectively. The cucumber is also a great source of:
- pantothenic acid (5% DV)
- copper (4% DV)
- potassium (4% DV)
- manganese (4% DV)
- vitamin C (4% DV)
- phosphorus (4% DV)
- magnesium (3%)
- biotin (3%)
- B1 (3%)
In terms of basic macronutrients, one cup of cucumbers contains 0.68 grams of protein, 3.78 grams of carbohydrates, 0.11 grams of total fat, 0.52 grams of fiber, and 16 calories.
In short, the positives of the cucumber are that it is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is a great source of Vitamin A, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, and Manganese. Also, the cucumber is a good source of Vitamins C and K and Potassium. The downfall is that a large part of the calories that it does contain comes from sugars.
There are many uses for cucumbers outside of the traditional slices on a salad.
A great source of energy
Because they are a great source of B vitamins, this may be a way for you to cut down on your afternoon caffeine. They can provide you with great energy to get you through the day.
Get rid of pests in your yard
Just put a few slices in a tin can in your garden to make it free of pests all year long. The chemicals in the cucumber are able to react with the aluminum. They create a scent that is undetectable to humans, but horrible to garden pests. It makes them flee the area.
Goodbye to cellulite
It has also been used for vanity reasons, such as reducing cellulite. Try putting a slice or two along your problem areas and let them sit for a few minutes. The phytochemicals will tighten the collagen in your skin. It will firm up the outer layer and make cellulite less visible.
Cleaning your faucets
Another great use is cleaning your faucets in an environmentally friendly way. You can also tackle your sinks and stainless steel. Simply rub a slice on the surface that you want to clean. This will help to remove tarnish and bring back the original shine of the product.
Cucumber – the superfood
They are a great superfood that not only provides a plethora of nutritional benefits but also has some uses that one would not normally think of trying. This cost-friendly vegetable is definitely worth the money for a snack and for some help at home with cleaning and self-care.
What has your experience been with the good, old cucumber? Share what you use it for and even some great recipes that you add it to on a regular basis.