Though cucumbers are often perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables, in a technical sense, they are actually fruits.
Cucumbers are considered a healthy addition to any diet because they are low in calories and fat. Plus, the nutritional profile of cucumbers is very impressive.
Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamins K, C and different B vitamins. They are also a good source of sodium, copper, amino acids, carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, potassium, manganese, fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, biotin and silica.
Plus, cucumbers have many health-supportive phytonutrients, including flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin and kaempferol), lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol and secoisolariciresinol) and triterpenes (cucurbitacins A, B, C and D).
The thirst-quenching and cooling properties of cucumbers make them a popular summer food. However, many people are unaware of the immense health benefits of cucumbers.
Here are the top health benefits of cucumbers.
1. Hydrates the Body
Cucumbers are about 95% water, hence they help keep you hydrated. They also help normalize body temperature. Plus, they are a good source of vitamins A and C, folic acid and fiber that help the body eliminate harmful toxins.
On dry, hot summer days, munch on cool cucumbers several times a day. You can also make a refreshing drink by mixing mint and lemon juice in a glass of freshly extracted cucumber juice.
2. Fights Cancer
Another beneficial property of cucumbers is their ability to fight and prevent cancer. Some of the components in cucumbers that have anti-cancer activities are cucurbitacins, fisetin, lutein and caffeic acid.
The bitterness in cucumbers is caused by a class of phytochemicals known as cucurbitacins, which have strong anti-cancer properties. Plus, the flavonoid fisetin can effectively reduce the viability of prostate cancer cells. Caffeic acid has anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects on breast cancer cells.
Additionally, the many antioxidants along with vitamin C improve your immunity and reduce free-radical damage, which in turn helps prevent cancer.
So, eat raw cucumbers or drink cucumber juice to cut your risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, lung and uterine cancers.
3. Aids Digestion
The high water content and dietary fiber in cucumbers work together to get rid of harmful toxins from the digestive system, aiding digestion. Plus, the enzyme erepsin present in cucumbers helps the body absorb protein and improves digestion.
Many digestive disorders, such as acidity, constipation, heartburn, gastritis and even ulcers, can be easily treated at home by drinking a glass of cucumber juice daily.
4. Controls Bad Breath
Cucumbers can also freshen your breath. The phytochemicals present in cucumbers help kill the bacteria causing bad breath.
Also, being crunchy, they boost the production of saliva in the mouth, in turn washing away odor-causing bacteria. Plus, cucumbers help reduce excess heat in your stomach, another cause of bad breath.
One of the simplest ways to eliminate bad breath is to put a slice of cucumber in your mouth and hold it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue for a few seconds. Also, when you eat a crunchy cucumber, it removes plaque on teeth and gums that bacteria feed on and cause bad breath.
5. Lowers Blood Sugar
Cucumbers have a special hormone that the pancreas utilizes to produce insulin. Insulin helps the cells convert carbohydrates into energy, which is very beneficial for diabetics. If carbohydrates are not converted into energy, your blood glucose level will rise.
Additionally, cucumbers have a glycemic index rating of 0. This means diabetics can eat cucumbers freely without worrying about their blood sugar.
According to the American Diabetic Association, one of the best ways to lower your blood sugar level is to eat cucumbers daily in juice or raw form.
6. Regulates Blood Pressure
Cucumbers contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and fiber that make them very effective in regulating blood pressure. They are considered good for treating both low and high blood pressure. Plus, being a natural diuretic, cucumbers help to hydrate and lower the pressure in the arteries.
Several studies done by DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) found that eating cucumbers, coupled with a diet of low starch and lean proteins, helped lower blood pressure by 5.5 points in people suffering from hypertension.
To lower blood pressure, cucumber juice should be mixed with other vegetable juices like that from carrots, beets and lemons. Drinking this juice two or three times a day has been found to lower blood pressure in just a few days.
7. Removes Cellulite
Cucumbers are also very effective for removing cellulite. They help draw out excess fluids from under the skin, in turn reducing cellulite. Plus, the phytochemicals in cucumbers help tighten the outer skin layer, thereby minimizing the visibility of cellulite.
Mix one-half cup of ground coffee with enough cucumber juice to make a thick paste. Mix in one tablespoon of raw honey. Apply the paste on the affected area and wrap it with a muslin cloth. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes, remove the cloth, and then exfoliate gently. Follow this remedy twice a week for several months.
You can also eat one cucumber daily to prevent cellulite.
8. Prevents Hangovers
If drinking alcohol gives you a headache the next morning, cucumbers can surely solve your problem.
Nutrients like B vitamins, sugar, electrolytes and the high water content present in cucumbers help replenish essential nutrients lost through drinking and prevent dehydration. This in turn reduces the intensity of hangovers.
To help prevent a hangover, eat a few slices of cucumber, including the skin, before going to bed after you have been drinking.
9. Heals Sunburn
The cooling and healing powers of cucumbers can be highly effective for treating a sunburn. Plus, cucumbers are full of skin-lavishing minerals like magnesium, potassium and silicon. They are often used in commercial products for sunburn.
Along with sunburn, cucumbers can also improve skin complexion and rejuvenate the skin. They can even be used for fading scars and pigmentation.
If you have a sunburn, cucumbers will help draw heat out of your skin and speed up the healing process. Blend one cucumber and apply the paste on the affected skin. Allow it to dry on its own. Then take a cool shower. Follow this treatment once daily for a few days.
10. Treats Puffy Eyes
The ascorbic acid in cucumbers decreases water retention, in turn diminishing puffiness and swelling under the eyes. Plus, the enzymes and astringent properties in cucumbers help reduce inflammation.
Cut a cucumber into thick slices and chill them in the refrigerator. Place one cucumber slice over each eye for 10 minutes. Then wash the area with lukewarm water. Use this treatment two or three times daily for a week to notice changes.
Along with treating puffy eyes, you can even use cucumber to get rid of wrinkles around your eyes and reduce the appearance of dark circles.
All these health benefits make cucumbers a superfood that you must include in your diet. Always buy cucumbers that are firm to the touch and dark green in color. Opt for organic cucumbers to enjoy a rich taste and more nutrient content.