Household treasures: Cucumbers, benefits and uses

Cucumber is a mild-tasting, refreshing food that is easy to add to various dishes. Like other fruits and vegetables, it is a good source of nutrients. Eating cucumber as part of a balanced diet and healthful lifestyle may have a range of benefits.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers have a mild, refreshing taste and a high water content. They can help relieve dehydration and are pleasant to eat in hot weather. People eat vegetable as a savory food, but it is a fruit. It also features in some beauty products. One thing we don’t remember is the importance of staying hydrated in the winters – do we really want dry skin throughout?

The cucumber is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Other members of the family include squash and different kinds of melon, including bitter melon. Vegetables provide various nutrients but are low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

People in India have grown cucumbers for food and medicinal purposes since ancient times, and they have long been part of the Mediterranean diet.

This article looks at the nutritional content of cucumber, its possible health benefits, tips for eating or using cucumber, and any potential health risks.

Benefits

The nutritional profile of cucumbers may give them a number of health benefits.

1) Hydration

Cucumbers consist mostly of water, and vegetables also contain important electrolytes. Vegetables can help prevent dehydration in hot weather or after a workout.

For people who do not enjoy drinking water, adding cucumber and mint can make it more attractive. Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining a healthy intestine, preventing constipation, avoiding kidney stones, and more. It is one of the most hydrating foods. What other foods are good for hydration?

2) Bone health

Vitamin K helps withTrusted Source blood clotting, and it may support bone health.

142-gram (g) cup of chopped, unpeeled, raw cucumber provides 10.2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an intake of:

  • 90 mcg a day for females aged 19 years and over
  • 120 mcg for males of the same age
  • Cucumber also contains 9 milligrams(mg) of calcium. Adults need 1,000–1,200 mg of calcium a day, depending on sex and age.
  • Vitamin K helps improve calcium absorption. Together, these nutrients can contribute to good bone health.

Vitamin D is also important for bone health. Find out more.

Read more: Household treasures: Apple cider vinegar, benefits and uses

3) Cancer

As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, cucumbers contain high levels of bitter-tasting nutrients known as cucurbitacin.

According to an article in the International Journal of Health Services, cucurbitacins may help prevent cancer by stopping cancer cells from reproducing. A 133-g cup of chopped cucumber with its skin also provides around 1 g of fiber. Fiber may help protect against colorectal cancer.

How can the foods we eat affect the risk of cancer? Find out here.

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4) Cardiovascular health

The American Heart Association (AHA) note that fiber can help manage cholesterol and prevent related cardiovascular problems.

A 142-g cup of unpeeled cucumber also provides 193 mg of potassium and 17 mg of magnesium. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day and 310–410 mg of magnesium, depending on sex and age.

Reducing sodium intake and increasing potassium intake may help prevent high blood pressure. The cucurbitacins in cucumber may also help prevent atherosclerosis.

5) Diabetes

Cucumbers may play a role in controlling and preventing diabetes. It contains substances that may help lower blood sugar or stop blood glucose from rising too high. One theory is that the cucurbitacins in cucumber help regulate insulin release and the metabolism of hepatic glycogen, a key hormone in the processing of blood sugar.

One study found that cucumber peel helped manage the symptoms of diabetes in mice. This may be due to its antioxidant content. Fiber, too, may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, according to the AHA.

Cucumbers score low score on the glycemic index (GI). This means they provide essential nutrients without adding carbohydrates that can increase blood glucose.

What kind of diet can help manage diabetes? Learn more here.

6) Inflammation

Cucumbers may have anti-inflammatory benefitsInflammation is a function of the immune system.

Experts believe inflammation may help trigger the development of various health conditions, such as:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • autoimmune conditions
  • depression
  • cancer
7) Skincare

Some research has suggested that cucumber’s nutrients may provide benefits for skin health.

Applying sliced cucumber directly to the skin can help cool and soothe the skin and reduce swelling and irritation. It can alleviate sunburn. Placed on the eyes, vegetables can help decrease morning puffiness. Other beauty tips include:

Toner: Blend and sieve cucumber to collect the juice for a natural toner. Leave on the skin for 30 minutes, then rinse. It may have astringent properties, and it may help clear the pores.

Face pack: Mix equal amounts of cucumber juice and yogurt to make a face pack that helps reduce dry skin and blackheads.

It is safe for most people to use on the skin. People should start by applying a small amount. If vegetables do not experience an adverse reaction, it is probably safe to use.

Learn more here about skin-friendly foods.

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Tips

Choose crisp, firm cucumbers and avoid those with shriveled or withered ends. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Some producers apply a wax coating to cucumbers after picking them. Do not wash these before storing but rinse thoroughly or peel before consuming.

People usually consume cucumbers raw. Their mild taste and refreshing crunch make them suitable for:

  • adding to salads or sandwiches
  • accompanying rich or highly flavored dishes, such as curries and stews
  • They pair well with a range of foods, including cheese, turkey, salmon, and nut butter.

Try the following:

  • Mix sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese for a Greek-style side dish.
  • Jazz up water by adding mint leaves and cucumber.
  • Slice cucumbers into thick slices and dip them in your favorite hummus.
  • Blend cucumbers alone or other vegetables, such as carrots and celery, to make a juice.
  • Make gazpacho soup by blending with tomatoes, pimentos, garlic, onions, and bread crumbs and then chilling.
  • Mix with garlic, mint, and Greek yogurt to accompany a curry.
Risks

Cucumber is safe for most people to eat, but there are some points to consider.

Digestive problems

Some people find some types of cucumber hard to digest. One source suggests that the conventional, large cucumber available in most grocery shelves is easy for most people to digest.

Blood clotting

Cucumber is relatively high in vitamin K. Eating too much cucumber could affect how a person’s blood clots. People who use warfarin (Coumadin) or similar blood-thinning drugs should not increase their intake of vegetable dramatically or suddenly without consulting a doctor.

Allergy

Some people have reported an allergic reaction to cucumber. Anyone with a known allergy should avoid all contact with cucumber. Symptoms of a reaction include:

  • hives
  • swelling
  • difficulty breathing

If a person has breathing problems, they need immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

Read more: Household treasures: Papayas, antioxidants and nourishments

Toxicity

Some cucurbitacins are toxic for people to consume. Eating bottle gourd, for example, has caused illness in some people. People should:

  • avoid eating the plant on which cucumbers grow
  • only consume cucumber fruits that they know are edible
  • The concentration of cucurbitacins in the everyday cucumber are unlikely to cause toxicity, however.
Growing cucumbers

People who have a garden that gets plenty of sun and has well-drained soil may wish to grow cucumbers. In this way, they can know which pesticides, if any, they have used. Growing fruits and vegetables at home can also maximize nutritional value, as people can eat them as soon as they harvest them.

Plant cucumber seeds when there is unlikely to be a frost.

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