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What Are the Benefits of Cucumber?
- Author :
- TATA AIG Team
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Crunchy, refreshing, and endlessly versatile, the cucumber is a summertime favourite. But this unassuming veggie packs a surprising nutritional punch. The benefits of eating cucumber are many - beyond poolside snacks and refreshing salads.
From keeping you hydrated to supporting bone health and aiding digestion, cucumbers deserve a starring role on your plate. In this blog, we will explore the science-backed benefits of eating cucumbers daily, get into their impressive nutrient profile, and share creative ways to incorporate them into your meals.
So, let’s get started!
Nutrition Quotient in Cucumbers
Don't let the simple taste of cucumbers fool you – 100 grams of cucumber packs a surprising nutritional punch.
It only has 12-15 calories, making it perfect for weight management.
It has 96% water content, keeping you hydrated, cool and refreshed.
It is a good source of vitamin K (bone health), potassium (blood pressure), vitamin C (immunity), and manganese (enzyme function).
It has around 0.5 grams of fibre per 100g, aiding digestion and gut health.
It contains beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids, protecting cells from damage.
Also Read: Vitamin C-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
Different Types and Uses of Cucumber
The world of cucumbers is surprisingly diverse, venturing far beyond the standard supermarket variety.
Here's a quick guide to some of the most common types you might encounter:
English Cucumbers: Long, slender, and dark green in colour with thin skin and few seeds. Perfect for salads, sandwiches, and crudités.
Persian Cucumbers: Similar to English cucumbers but shorter and slightly thicker. Known for their sweet and mild flavour.
Armenian Cucumbers: Long and light green with bumpy skin. Have a slightly firmer texture and a more pronounced cucumber flavour.
Kirby Cucumbers: Short, plump, and dark green with bumpy skin. Ideal for pickling due to their high seed content and crisp texture.
Dill Cucumbers: Similar to Kirby cucumbers, but slightly longer and lighter green. Often sold pre-packaged with fresh dill for pickling.
Japanese Cucumbers: Short and spiky with a tender skin and mild flavour. Often used in sushi and stir-fries.
Now, let’s learn about the benefits of cucumber (no matter which type you would like to incorporate into your diet!).
Top 10 Cucumber Benefits that You Should be Aware Of
Cucumbers are a nutritional powerhouse with benefits that extend far beyond refreshing summer snacks. Here's how incorporating cucumbers into your daily diet can elevate your overall health:
Better Bone Health:
Cucumber's abundant vitamin K content is instrumental in promoting bone health. Research indicates that inadequate vitamin K levels are linked to an increased risk of bone fractures.
For instance, a study involving women aged 38–74 revealed that those who consumed 109 micrograms of vitamin K1 experienced notably lower rates of hip fractures compared to those with lower intakes.
With a water content of approximately 95%, cucumbers serve as an excellent option for staying hydrated. Adequate hydration benefits various aspects of your body, including enhanced focus, regulation of body temperature, maintenance of healthy joints and organs, and efficient waste removal.
Moreover, maintaining proper fluid intake aids in preventing constipation and supports gut health.
Cucumbers contain lignans, natural compounds also found in foods like flax and sesame seeds, kale, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, and apricots. These lignans are known for their potential to offer protective benefits against colorectal and post-menopausal breast cancers.
Cardiovascular Health Support:
Supporting cardiovascular health, cucumbers offer valuable nutrients that contribute to overall well-being. According to the American Heart Association, dietary fibre aids in managing cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
A 142-gram serving of unpeeled cucumber provides 193 mg of potassium and 17 mg of magnesium, aligning with the Dietary Guidelines recommending daily intake levels for adults. Increasing potassium intake while reducing sodium consumption may help in preventing high blood pressure.
Furthermore, cucurbitacins in cucumbers have shown the potential to prevent atherosclerosis, further enhancing heart health.
Aiding in Weight Loss:
Cucumbers are low in calories. A one-cup (104-gram) serving contains just 16 calories, while a whole 11-ounce (300-gram) cucumber has only 45 calories. This means you can enjoy plenty of cucumbers without worrying about excess calories that contribute to weight gain.
Moreover, the high water content of cucumbers may also support weight loss. An analysis of 13 studies involving 3,628 people found that consuming foods with high water and low-calorie contents was linked to a significant reduction in body weight.
Improves Heart Health:
Cucumbers offer a dual benefit by addressing key factors like blood pressure and arterial health. High levels of sodium can contribute to elevated blood pressure, while potassium acts as a counterbalance, helping to mitigate sodium's effects. Cucumbers, rich in potassium and low in sodium, provide a favourable balance for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Moreover, cucumbers contain CuB, which fights atherosclerosis, the accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls, thereby safeguarding heart health.
Additionally, the fiber content in cucumbers aids in reducing cholesterol levels, which research indicates can lower the risk of heart disease.
Better Skin Health:
Cucumber’s benefits for the skin are endless. It enhances skin health and offers myriad benefits, contributing to a radiant complexion. The application of cucumber juice softens and rejuvenates the skin, imparting a natural glow, while its anti-inflammatory properties help lighten the skin tone and reduce tanning.
Furthermore, cucumbers effectively diminish the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, promoting smoother and more youthful-looking skin.
Helpful in Pregnancy:
Cucumbers provide significant advantages during pregnancy. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, they promote foetal growth and enhance the well-being of expectant mothers. Their high water content helps in preventing dehydration, while their low-calorie nature aids in weight management.
Cucumbers can alleviate typical pregnancy discomforts like swelling and constipation, making them a nourishing and refreshing option for pregnant women.
Incorporating cucumbers into a diabetes-friendly diet can yield valuable advantages. With a low glycaemic index, they exert minimal influence on blood sugar levels. Their high water content promotes hydration, while their fibre content aids in regulating blood sugar.
Also, cucumbers provide essential vitamins and antioxidants, rendering them a nutritious and diabetes-friendly snack or meal accompaniment.
Also Read: Best Foods to Control Diabetes
Protects Liver Health:
Cucumbers offer potential benefits for liver health owing to their hydrating qualities and nutrient richness. Their high water content assists in flushing out toxins and fostering optimal liver function.
Moreover, cucumbers boast antioxidants like beta-carotene and flavonoids, which could help alleviate inflammation and enhance the liver's innate detoxification mechanisms. Including cucumbers in a balanced diet can serve as a refreshing and liver-supportive option.
How to Add Cucumbers to Your Diet – Some Fun Recipes!
Cucumber fruit benefits are numerous, and incorporating them into your diet adds freshness and a wealth of nutrients and hydration.
Here are some easy and enjoyable recipes to make the most of this versatile vegetable:
Ingredients: Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Directions: Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion into bite-sized pieces. Toss together with crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.
Ingredients: Cucumbers, spinach, banana, Greek yogurt, honey, ice cubes.
Directions: Blend together chopped cucumbers, spinach, banana, Greek yogurt, honey, and ice cubes until smooth. Adjust sweetness to taste by adding more honey if desired. This refreshing smoothie is perfect for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
Cucumber Mint Water:
Ingredients: Cucumbers, mint leaves, water, ice cubes.
Directions: Thinly slice cucumbers and place them in a pitcher of water. Add fresh mint leaves and ice cubes. Allow the flavours to infuse for at least an hour before serving. This naturally flavoured water is a hydrating and refreshing alternative to sugary beverages.
Ingredients: Cucumber slices, bread, sandwich sauce, paneer, chicken or tuna, mayonnaise.
Directions: Add cucumber slices to your favourite grilled paneer, tuna or chicken sandwiches. Put some good amount of your preferred sauces and mayonnaise and dig in!
How to Store Cucumbers to Retain Their Nutrients for a Longer Time?
Selecting and storing cucumbers effectively is crucial regardless of the type—be it Persian, Kirby (pickling), English (seedless), garden, or slicing.
Here's what to consider when choosing and preserving your cucumbers:
Pick the Right Ones When shopping:
Thoroughly inspect all sides of the cucumbers you intend to purchase. Opt for ones without nicks, wrinkles, or cuts, ensuring they exhibit a uniform green colour without any signs of mould. Additionally, assess their firmness, selecting cucumbers free from soft spots.
Wash & Store them Well:
Upon returning home, promptly store your cucumbers in the refrigerator. While cucumbers ideally thrive at approximately 55°F (12.7°C), they rapidly deteriorate at warmer room temperatures, making refrigeration imperative. Position them in a relatively warmer section of the fridge, such as the top shelf or towards the door.
Due to their high water content, it's advisable to avoid placing cucumbers at the back of the fridge, where they might risk freezing. Put them in a nice and clean bag and keep them inside the veggie box given along with the refrigerator.
Who Should Avoid Cucumbers in Their Diet?
While cucumbers are generally safe and healthy for most people, there are a few groups who might want to consume them with caution:
People with Allergies:
Though rare, some individuals might be allergic to cucurbitacins, compounds found in cucumbers, melons, and squash. Symptoms can range from mild skin irritation to more severe reactions like anaphylaxis. If you have known allergies to other cucurbits, it's best to consult a doctor before trying cucumbers.
Individuals on Blood Thinners:
Cucumbers are high in vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting. While generally not an issue, people taking blood-thinning medications should be mindful of their cucumber intake. Consuming significantly more or less cucumber than usual can potentially affect how the medication works. It's best to discuss this with your doctor.
People with Certain Digestive Conditions:
Cucumbers, like other raw vegetables, can sometimes trigger bloating or discomfort in individuals with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). If you have IBS, introduce cucumbers gradually and observe your body's response.
Also Read: Vitamin K Benefits
To Sum it Up
So, aren’t you amazed by all the benefits of eating cucumber on a daily basis? From salads to smoothies, the humble cucumber packs a surprising punch. Low in calories yet bursting with vitamins, minerals, and hydration, it's a nutritional all-star that deserves a starring role on your plate.
So, ditch the misconception of cucumbers as mere filler – embrace their versatility, reap their health benefits, and have fun exploring their endless culinary possibilities!
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How much cucumber should I eat per day?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, as individual needs vary. However, most healthy adults can safely enjoy 1-2 cucumbers (around 300-600 grams) daily. Remember, moderation is key, and if you have any underlying health conditions, consult your doctor before drastically increasing your cucumber intake.
What's the best way to eat cucumbers?
Cucumbers are incredibly versatile! You can enjoy them raw (sliced, sticks, etc.), pickled, roasted, grilled, or blended into smoothies and soups. Experiment and find ways that suit your taste and preferences.
Do cucumbers have any downsides?
While generally safe, some people might experience bloating or digestive discomfort, especially if consumed in large quantities. Additionally, individuals with certain allergies or taking specific medications should approach cucumbers with caution and consult their doctor if needed.
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