Cucumbers, also called Cucumis sativus, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, and so does the melons, squashes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelons and honeydew. It is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are used as culinary vegetables. Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. It is made up of 95% water and is naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, calories, fat and cholesterol. It water percentage means it can help you stay hydrated even in heat. While most people think of cucumbers as vegetables, they are actually a fruit. They contain seeds and grow from the ovaries of flowering plants. There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, some are edible while others are not.
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There is a reason to eat cucumbers all year long. One cup of cucumber provides 11% of vitamin K, 4% of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and manganese and 2% of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper needs for the day. With these nutrients, plus polyphenols and other compounds, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies and reduce your risk of chronic diseases . Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties, and cucumbers are very good sources of that. Cucumbers also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits as they contain flavonoids, lignans and triterpenes. The peel and seeds of the cumber are the most important parts. They are a good source of calcium, minerals, fiber and beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of raw sliced cucumber with peel (approximately 119 grams) contains 115 grams of water, 16 calories, 0.8 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat and 2.9 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.9 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of sugar).
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Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds have long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions. The health benefits of consuming plant foods like cucumber includes all of the following:
1. Replenishes and Re-hydrates the Body: Adding cucumber to water is a great way to increase water consumption as well. Made up of mostly water (95%) and full of important electrolytes, they keep the body hydrated while helping the it eliminate toxins. Cucumbers have most of the vitamins the body needs in a single day. The anti-inflammatory compounds in cucumbers help remove waste from the body and reduce skin irritation. Preliminary research also suggests that cucumbers promote anti-wrinkling and anti-aging activities.
2. Helps to Prevent Cancers: You can drastically reduce the risk of developing breast, prostate, ovarian, and uterine cancers by taking cucumbers. Cucumbers are known to contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. It also contains lignans such as secoisolariciresinol, pinoresinol, and lariciresinol. These two phytonutrients have strong anti-cancer properties and can reduce the risk of several cancer types, including the aforementioned.
3. Promotes Skin Care: Cucumbers have a cooling and soothing effect. When used topically, it decreases swelling, irritation and inflammation. This explains why you see people at a spa with cucumber slices over their eyes. It reduces morning puffiness and treats sunburn when placed on the affected areas. The silicon and sulfur in cucumbers also help to stimulate hair growth.
4. Good Bone Health: Bone health is attributable to adequate consumption of calcium. Low intake of calcium has been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Adequate consumption of calcium can be achieved by eating cucumbers (one cup of cucumber contains about 19% of the recommended daily intake of calcium).
5. Contains Antioxidant Properties: Cucumbers contain several antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese, as well as antioxidant flavonoids (such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol), triterpenes and lignans that have anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is well known for its immune system benefits, and beta-carotene has been shown to be beneficial for vision.
6. Cures Diabetes, Reduces Cholesterol and Controls Blood Pressure – Cucumber juice contains a hormone which is needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin which has been found to be beneficial to diabetic patients. Researchers found that a compound called sterols in cucumbers helps reduce cholesterol levels. Cucumbers contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and fiber. These work effectively for regulating blood pressure. This makes cucumbers good for treating both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.
7. Freshens and Relieves Bad Breath: Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. The phytochemcials kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for bad breath. Eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a major cause of bad breath.
8. Aids in Weight Loss and Digestion: Cucumber is the proper diet for people who are looking to loose weight. Its low calorie and high water content also aids this cause. Cucumbers also contain dietary fibers, which are very effective in ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, thereby aiding digestion. In fact, daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.
9. Takes Care of Hangovers: To avoid a morning hangover or headache; eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish many essential nutrients, reducing the intensity of both hangover and headache.
10. Promotes Joint Health, Relieves Gout and Arthritis Pain – Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which is known to help promote joint health by strengthening the connective tissues. They are also rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium. When mixed with carrot juice, they can relieve gout and arthritis pain by lowering the uric acid levels.
Others may include:
- Prevents brain damage
- Fight inflammation
- Supports heart health
- Helps in managing stress
- Supports digestive health