You may think that you know all there is to know about this fruity gourd. Crisp and delicious, its versatility is astounding – but how healthy is cucumber? You might be surprised, given its high water content. Cucumber offers quite a few benefits for your body – some due, in part, to its watery ways. From a calorie perspective, it’s desirable, too. If your goal is slimming, count on cukes. There’s loads more to discover about our refreshing friend. Let this article introduce you to its merits.
We’ve already mentioned how low in calories it is, but cucumber isn’t high in carbohydrates, either. It boasts a formidable amount of fibre and an impressive vitamin profile. You’ll find A, B, C and E lurking within. There’s loads of refreshing and filling water in cucumber. 100 grams gives you a mere 13 calories, 97% of which is liquid.
Looking for minerals? Cucumbers are a fruit extremely rich in potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Did we mention how versatile they are? Well, it bears repeating. You can eat them raw in salads, on sandwiches and in wraps. Add a dash of salt to elevate the flavour – or eat them as pickles! Grate them, dice them or slice them thinly. They’ll be divine. Nothing beats a bowl of cooling Spanish gazpacho on a scorcher of a day. Toss a few chunks of cucumber into some diced tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and devour.
The plot thickens, as the origins of this fantastical fruit are mysterious. Some research indicates that India gave them to the world, but this is uncertain. They’ve been cultivated in western Asia for 3,000 years and were probably introduced to Europe by the Romans. Thank you, Romans! They’re kin to watermelon, pumpkins and other melons.
Cucumbers…what are they good for?
You might call them a sort of superfood – and deservedly so. They’re great for general health. Here’s what you can expect if you eat them regularly:
- Skin benefits – Cucumber skin is prized for various aesthetic treatments because this is where you’ll find amazing things such as affeic and ascorbic acids. There’s vitamin C in there, too – and in phenomenal concentrations. Mild and soothing, cukes keep your skin healthy by relieving irritation and reducing inflammation. You can safely apply it directly to your skin. It’s a classic ingredient for beautifying eye treatments. Cucumbers are renowned for improving eczema and psoriasis. You can take it internally, as well. Make a smoothie of it by adding grated cukes to water and the juice of half a lemon. It’s a delicious addition to any detox routine.
- Terrific for tissues – Silica is abundant in cucumbers. It’s a mineral that goes the extra mile to strengthen the connective tissues of your body. We’re talking about your muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and even your bones. Because it’s a skin saviour, you’ll find silica as an ingredient in many creams that fight acne and other skin disturbances.
- Cardio kind – Magnesium, fibre and potassium are all present in cucumber…and they all help to reduce blood pressure.
- Digestive darlings – If you’re plagued by frequent acid or bloating in your stomach, try to eat more cucumber. Its fibre, water, potassium and magnesium will help to balance pH and regulate your digestion.
But, wait! There’s more you need to know about cucumbers:
- Cucumbers are an amazing diuretic because they’re largely water. Eat them and they’ll sweep away excess fluids – and fat – from your body
- They will balance uric acid levels, so they’re highly recommended for people who retain fluid (especially round the ankles) or who have hypertension.
- Chew a cuke for its cellulose and you’re onto a winner if you want to prevent indigestion.
- It’ll tinker in your intestines to repair the healthy mucus that protects your stomach
- Low in calories, low in fat: bet you didn’t know about that!
- Cucumber acts like a sponge on toxins that run riot in your body.
- Your immune system will love you for eating more of these gorgeous gourds. They’re rife with B complex vitamins (specifically B3, B5 and B9) and plentiful in clean plant protein
- A strong immune system, supported by cucumbers’ vitamin C, protects you from colds and speeds the healing process.
- For anti-ageing effects, take advantage of cucumber’s abundant levels of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.
- Introduce cuke to your daily menu and your body will be bolstered against environmental toxins.
As glorious as they are, there are some instances in which this fruit should be avoided. Don’t worry. The risks are very low – especially given cucumber’s health benefits. Still, it’s only fair to mention that they do contain cucurbitacin, a compound that can cause indigestion and excess gas. If you’re susceptible to either of these conditions, you might want to limit your consumption. In rare instances, some people experience allergic reactions to cucumber. These reactions usually manifest themselves as swelling in the tongue, throat or mouth.
Consumed in excess, the diuretic properties of cucumber can cause dehydration. There are not many occurrences of this contraindication, you’ll be pleased to know. Unless you can easily eat a few kilos of cucumber a day, you’re unlikely to become familiar with this scenario.
Images courtesy of Stacy Spensley, Karen and Brad Emerson, Windell Oskay, Andy Melton, theilr, natalycolodi, Peter Oelschlaeger and liz west.