Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely-cultivated creeping vine plant in the cucurbitaceae gourd family that bears cucumiform fruits, which are used as vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber- slicing, pickling, and burpless/ seedless-within which several cultivars have been created. The cucumber originates from South Asia, but now grows on most continents, as many different types of cucumber are traded on the global market. In North America, the term wild cucumber refers to plants in the genera Echinocystis and Marah, though the two are not closely related.
Though commonly thought to be a vegetables, cucumber is actually a fruit. Cucmbers are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fuber. Making them ideal for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss.
■ TOP HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING CUCUMBER
● Cucumbers are low in calories but high in many important vitamins and minerals.
One 11-ounce (300-gram) unpeeled, raw cucumber contains the following:
○ Calories: 45
○ Total fat: 0 grams
○ Carbs: 11 grams
○ Protein: 2 grams
○ Fiber: 2 grams
○ Vitamin C: 14% of the RDI
○ Vitamin K: 62% of the RDI
○ Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
○ Potassium: 13% of the RDI
○ Manganese: 12% of the RDI
The typical serving size is about one-third of a cucumber, so eating a standard portion would provide about one-third of the nutrients above. Additionally, cucumbers have a high water content. In fact, cucumbers are made up of about 96% water.
To maximize their nutrient content, cucumbers should be eaten unpeeled . Peeling them reduces the amount of fiber, as well as certain vitamins and minerals.
● It Contains Antioxidants and micronutrients
○ Scientists have been hard at work debunking the idea that cucumbers are basically salad filler. According to the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, cucumbers contain a group of polyphenols called lignans, which may be helpful in treating estrogen-related cancers.
○ Perez says they also contain other types of antioxidants like beta carotene and flavonoids, which help fight inflammation and protect cells from chronic disease.
○ Antioxidants are molecules that block oxidation, a chemical reaction that forms highly reactive atoms with unpaired electrons known as free radicals. The accumulation of these harmful free radicals can lead to several types of chronic illness.
○ in fact, oxidatives stress caused free radicals has been associated with cancer and heart, lung and autoimmune disease.
○ Fruits and vegetables, including cucumber, are especially rich in beneficial antioxidants that may reduce the risk of these conditions.
○ One study measured the antioxidant power of cucumber by supplementing 30 older adults with cucumber powder.
○ At the end of the 30-day study, cucumber powder caused asignificant increase in several markers of antioxidant activity and improved antioxidant status.
○ However, it’s important to note that the cucumber powder used in this study likely contained a greater dose of antioxidants
○ Another test-tube study investigated the antioxidant properties of cucumbers and found that they contain flavonoids and tannins, which are two groups of compounds that are especially effective at blocking harmful free radicals.
● Cucumbers May Help Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check
○ High blood pressure, or hypertension, can leave you at risk for developing an aneurysm, stroke, or worse, since cucumbers are high in the electrolyte potassium, they may reduce sodium-induced water retention and thus lower blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
○ Cucumber on their own won’t mitigate the damage of an entire bag of chips a day, so if you do have high blood pressure, make sure you also work on reducing harmful habits (like smoking, maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, and eating excessive saturated fat-and cholesterol-laden foods), in addition to focusing on your cuke intake.
● They can Keep your Digestion Going Strong
○ Basically all the calories in cucumbers (and yes, there’s not that many) come from fiber. According to Perez, fiber helps improve gut health and bowel movement regularity, is beneficial in managing certain conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol, and will even fill you up to prevent you from overeating.
● It Promotes Hydration
○ Staying hydrated is crucial for carrying nutrients to your cells, preventing constipation, and flushing out bacteria, to name just a few. Perez says eating cucumbers can help you reach your recommended daily fluid intake (eight cupss of H2O, FYI).
○ The amount of water you actually ingest from cucumbers depends on your serving size, but since they’re made of 96 percent water, you can be sure a cup of cucumber will comtribute significantly to your water needs, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and Read It Before You Eat It.
○ Water is crucial to your body’s function, playing numerous important roles. It is involved processes like temperature regulation and the transportation of waste products and nutrients. In fact, proper hydration can affect everything from physical performance to metabolism.
○ The majority of the fluid needs by drinking water or other liquids, some people may get as much as 40% of their total water intake from food. Fruits and vegetables, in particular, can be a good source of water in your diet.
○ In one study, hydration status was assessed and diet records were collected for 442 children. They found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with improvements in hydration status.
○ Cucumbers are composed of about 96% water, which may increase hydration and help you meet your daily fluid needs.
● It May Aid in Weight Loss
○ Cucumbers could potentially help you lose weight in a few different ways. Though they are low in calories.
○ Each one-cup (104-gram) serving contains just 16 calories, while an entire 11-ounce (300-gram) cucumber contains only 45 calories. This means that you can eat plenty of cucumbers without packing on the extra calories that lead to weight gain.
○ Cucumbers can add freshness and flavor to salads, sandwiches and side dishes and may also be used as a replacement for higher calorie alternatives. The high water content of cucumbers could aid in weight loss as well..
○ one analysis looked at 13 studies including 3, 628 people and found that eating foods with high water and low calorie content was associated with a significant in body weight.
● It May Lower Blood Sugar
○ Several animal and test-tube studies have found that cucumber may help reduce blood sugar levels and prevent some complications of diabetes.
○ One animal study examined the effects of various plants on blood sugar. Cucumbers were shown to effectively reduce and control blood sugar levels.
○ Another animal study induced diabetes in mice and then supplemented them with cucumber peel extract. Cucumber peel reversed most of the diabetes-associated changes and caused a decrease in blood sugar.
○ In addition, one test-tube study found that cucumbers may be effective at reducing oxidative stress and preventing diabetes-related complications. However, the current evidence is limited to test-tube and animal studies. Further research is needed to determine how cucumbers may affect blood sugar in humans.
● Cucumbers May Help Regulate Diabetes
○ Similar to how they can help you maintain a healthy weight, cucumbers are clutch at keeping diabetes in check. Perez, again notes that because they’re rich in water, they expand in your stomach and thus reduce cravings for sugary snacks, which is a great way to regulate insulin levels.
● It Could Promote Regularity
○ Eating cucumbers may help support regular bowel movements. Dehydration is a major risk factor for constipation, as it can alter your water balance and make the passage of stool difficult.
○ Cucumbers are high in water and promotemhydration. Staying hydrated can improve stool consistency, prevent constipation and help maintain regularity. Moreover, cucumbers contain fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements.
○ In particular, pictin, the type of soluble fiber foundmin cucumbers, can help increase bowel movement frequency.
○ One study had 80 participants supplement with pictin. It found that pictin sped up the movement of the intestinal muscles, all while feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut that improve digestive health.
● They keep Your Gut Healthy
○ Cucumbers boast a lot of fiber, which is great for supporting a healthy gut. But when you eat them in pickle form, they’re really superstars in this category. ICYMI: Pickles are made of cucumbers plus the right mix of pickling spices, salt, and vinegar. “The fermentation process makes them perfect fuel for your gut,” says Taub-Dix. Increasing the “good bacteria” in your gut is associated with a host of benefits like better immunity and functional bowels
● They May Help Promote a Healthy Weight
○ There’s not a single food or exercise that’s single handedly responsible for weight loss or maintenance, but cucumbers are centainly a great addition to an otherwise healthy lifestyle that’s rich in produce, whole grains, healthy fat, and lean protein. “They can help with weight loss in the sense that if you fill up more on them, you’ll be less likely to eat junk foods since they can be a very filling food,” say Perez.
● Easy to Add to Your Diet
○ Mild with a distincly crisp and refreshing flavor, cucumbers are commonly enjoyed fresh or pickled in everything from salad to sandwiches.
○ Cucumbers are also often eaten raw as a low-calorie snack or can be paired with hummus, olive oil, salt or salad dressing to add a bit more flavor.
● Cucumbers are a refreshing, nutritious and incredibly versatile addition to any diet.
● They are low in calories but contain many important vitamins and minerals, as well as a high water content.
● Eating cucumbers may lead to many potential health benefits, including weight loss, balanced hydration, digestive regularity and lower blood sugar levels.
References: wikipedia / healthline.com / womenshealthmag.com