Cucumbers and salads are synonymous with each other. It is often considered as a fruit as well as a vegetable by experts as it belongs to the same plant family as that of the pumpkin, squash and watermelon, i.e. the Cucurbitaceae family.
Amazingly refreshing cucumbers are long and lean, available in many colours. They have a distinct mild melon-like taste and smell due to the presence of aldehydes. The slight bitterness of cucumber skin is because of cucurbitacins in it.
Cucumber Nutritional Facts
Cucumbers contain 96% per cent of water. They are ideal for detoxification and preventing dehydration. Cucumbers are rich in phytonutrients and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of pantothenic acid and Molybdenum. They also contain copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B1.
10 Health Benefits of Cucumbers:
Good for Hydration & Detoxification:
Cucumbers are 96% water. Consuming cucumbers, adds to the daily requirement of water by the body, thus keeping us hydrated. This is helpful, especially during summers when we tend to get dehydrated easily. Cucumber also acts as a coolant, providing us relief from the summer heat.
Detox water made using cucumber and mint, effectively eliminates toxins from the body, improves hydration and thus results in innumerable health benefits.
Regulates Blood Pressure:
Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre. These nutrients are known to lower blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Research has also proved that regular consumption of cucumber juice was helpful in reducing blood pressure, in elderly people with hypertension.
Good for Digestion:
Cucumbers act as a coolant for our stomach. The soluble fibre in cucumbers helps in slowing our digestion.
Also, the high content of water in cucumber makes our stools soft, prevents constipation and keeps our bowel movements regular.
Reduces Blood Sugar:
Cucumbers are known to reduce blood sugar levels, thus being helpful in the management and prevention of diabetes mellitus.
Helpful in Weight Loss:
Cucumbers contain 96% of water and are low in calories. There are only 15.5 calories in 100 g of cucumber.
The high water and low-calorie content of cucumbers help in reducing weight.
Cucumbers are great beauty enhancers. They show amazing effects on the skin.
The application of cucumber juice on the skin makes it soft and glowy. Anti-inflammatory effects of cucumber naturally lighten our skin and reduce tanning.
It also reduces wrinkles and fine lines.
Soothes our Eyes:
Keeping cucumber slices on the eyes for about 10 minutes relaxes our eyes and reduces puffiness around the eyes.
Reduces the Risk of Cancer:
The fibre in cucumbers protects from colorectal cancer. Also, cucurbitacin present in cucumbers possesses anti-cancer properties.
Good for Hair and Nails:
Cucumbers contain silica which is excellent for hair and nail care. They help in strengthening the nails and prevent them from becoming brittle.
Prevents Bad Breath:
Phytochemicals present in cucumber destroy the bacteria in our mouth that cause bad breath.
How to consume cucumbers?
- It is best to eat cucumbers unpeeled, to prevent loss of some fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Raw cucumbers can be tossed in salads, sandwiches and curd for a crunchy taste.
- You can make sabzi and soups out of them.
How to store cucumbers?
Wrap cucumbers in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator, so that they remain fresh and last longer.
Side-Effects of Consuming Cucumbers:
- Consuming cucumbers may lead to digestive problems like bloating and flatulence in some people.
- People with kidney problems should not consume too much cucumber as it can increase the water content and potassium in their body, which is harmful to them.
- People on blood thinners should not consume too much cucumber, as Vitamin K in them can make blood clotting further difficult.
- People allergic to cucumber may show symptoms like hives, swelling and difficulty in breathing.
Easy Cucumber Recipes
Now that you know the health benefits of cucumber, you may be curious about how you can incorporate it into your regular diet. We’ve got you covered with easy methods below to add cucumber to your diet:
- Salads are the best way to start adding cucumber to your diet. You can go extremely simple and just have sliced cucumber with seasoning and a hit of lemon, or add it to a veggie salad with a dressing of your choice.
- Smoothie/Juice – Using a blender or a juicer, mix cucumbers into a pulp along with ingredients like mango, coconut water and honey. This drink is amazingly refreshing, and has all the benefits of cucumber and coconut water!
- Rolled Cucumber – Using a vegetable slicer, you can make yourself some super-thin sheets of cucumber, wrap these around other veggies or a filling of your choice and create neat little healthy appetisers.
- Sushi – If you like sushi, you can try out some inventive dishes like an avocado-cucumber sushi preparation. Make your own vegetarian sushi dishes at home to save on costs!
- Pickled – Pickled cucumber is all the rage in places like North America (often called dill pickles) with similar preparations being made across the world (in Japan a pickled preparation called Kyuri Zuke calls for cucumber to be added to the mix). You can try to make this yourself at home, for the simplest version you just need salt, water, vinegar, sugar (if preferred) and some fresh cucumbers.