Top Reasons to Enjoy CUCUMBERS

(Photo Credit: Thompson-Morgan)
(Photo Credit:  Thompson-Morgan)
(Photo Credit: Thompson-Morgan)

Do a quick survey among your friends and colleagues about what they know about cucumber benefits.  I did the rounds and asked at least 20 people.   They all came up with only one or two answers; it is good for eye bags and it perks up their burgers and salads!  Nothing more.

How about you?  What do you know about that cucumber you’re eating?

Do you know that:

  • Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a vegetable which belongs to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, which includes gourds, melons, and squashes  and it is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and believed to have originated in Northern India.
  • Cucumber is among the top five  most-widely grown vegetable crop in the world and they’re grown globally in temperate regions.
  • Cucumber is categorized into two types:  the slicing and the pickling variety(which is smaller, thicker with bumpy skin and black-dotted spines.
  • This wonderful  vegetable is considered as a health food because it has more nutrients to offer than just water and electrolytes.
  • It can be eaten raw as is or in vegetable salads or as juice.

Here arthe health benefits of cucumber:

  • Cucumber helps in reducing swelling around the eyes or the big dark circles under our eyes as they are the most wonderful and natural eye pads we can find.  This is world-wide treatment for the puffiness and the tiredness in our eyes. (top answer in survey)
  • Cucumber hydrates the body and regulates body temperature due to its 96% water content which is more nutritious than regular water.  In addition, cucumber, whether eaten raw or as juice, also helps in flushing out the toxins from the body, revitalizes it while stabilizing body temperature.
  • It has very low calories, providing just 15 calories per 100 g.
  • It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and its  peel is a good source of dietary fiber which helps reduce constipation. It also helps to eliminate toxic compounds from the gut; thereby it offers some protection against colon cancers.
  • It is good for treating and controlling both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, especially when made into juice because it a very good source of potassium which is an important intracellular electrolyte and considered as   heart friendly  because it helps bring a reduction in total blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.   100 g of cucumber provides 147 mg of potassium, but only 2 mg of sodium.
  • It is good for the joints because it is an excellent source of silica, which is  essential for strengthening the connective tissues in order to ensure that our movements are smooth; good joints, no pain.
  • It helps to relieve gout and arthritis pain  because it is rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium, and when mixed with carrot juice, it can be a relief remedy for gout and arthritis pain by lowering the uric acid levels.
  • It is good for skin care – the high water content, vitamins A, B & C and the presence of certain minerals like magnesium, potassium, and silica make cucumbers an essential part towards having beautiful skin. Facial masks with cucumber juice can be used for skin tightening. Ascorbic acid and caffeic acid present in cucumbers can bring down the water retention rate which in turn diminishes the puffiness and swelling under the eyes (which explains why we put cucumber slices on our eyes after a heavy night; now we know).  The peel of the cucumber can likewise bring relief to our sunburned or windburned skin.
  • It aids in digestion  owing to the high water content and dietary fiber in cucumber which are found to be very effective in driving away the toxins from the digestive system. Simply put, it acts like a broom which sweeps all toxins in the digestive tract.  Consumption of cucumbers daily, preferably as juice, is recommended as a remedy for chronic constipation, acidity, heartburn, gastritis and even ulcers.
  •  It is good for the nails due to the high silica content of cucumber which also helps to prevent splitting and breaking of nails of our fingers and toes.  Rub some cucumber extract on your nails to strengthen it, especially if you are the type who likes to wear long manicured nails.
  • It is good for teeth and gums, especially in cases of pyorrhea, because it is a good source of dietary fiber which is perfect for massaging the gums. Other than that, the cucumber juice  is excellent in cleaning the teeth and giving it a protective coating.
  • Cucumber juice has been found to be beneficial for those with diabetes because it contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
  • It helps fight cancers, because it is known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol – three lignans which have a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of several cancer types, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, and  ovarian cancer.
  • Cucumber seeds are used as a natural remedy for treating  intestinal parasites like tapeworms.   Bruised cucumber seeds mixed with water are also effective in the treatment of swellings of the mucous membranes of the nose and the throat.
  • Cucumber stimulates hair growth – Because it contains silicon and sulphur, a regular intake of cucumber can contribute to healthy hair growth.  Try mixing cucumber juice with the juices of carrot, lettuce or spinach.
  • It is an  ideal  diet  for weight loss due to its low-calorie and high water content.
  • It helps to reduce cholesterol levels.  Researchers found that some compound called sterols in cucumber may help lower cholesterol levels.  Other than munching cucumbers, you may make a smoothie out of it or plain cucumber juice.
  • Cucumbers contains unique anti-oxidants in moderate ratios such as B-caroteneand ?-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Their total antioxidant strength, measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC value), is 214 µmol TE/100 g.
  • It acts as a diuretic owing to its water content; whereby it encourages the elimination of waste products through more frequent urination.   Consuming cucumbers regularly helps to dissolve bladder or kidney stones more naturally..  It has mild diuretic property due to their free-water,  potassium and low sodium content, which helps in checking weight gain and high blood pressure.
  • It promotes better calcium absorption.  Cucumber  has a high amount of vitamin K, providing about 17 µg of this vitamin per 100 g.  Calcium would be left unused by the body if there is not enough Vitamin K, because Vitamin K is the key in enabling the body to absorb and use up calcium. Hence, cucumber also contributes in prevention of osteoporosis by making the bones much stronger.   More so, it also helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

It doesn’t matter what type of cucumber you consume, but go for the organically grown if you can for more nutritious content and richer taste.  Select those which are firm to touch and dark green in color; not the turned yellowish kind.  You see, cucumbers  are best-harvested while young, tender and just short of reaching maturity.  It’s when they  taste sweeter and are more crunchy.  No worry over its availability as  cucumbers are available throughout the season as it is cultivated all around the world.