Cucumbers originated in South Asia and were introduced to Europe by the Romans during the days of the Roman Empire. It is now cultivated on all continents.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the cucumber contains most of the nutrients that the body needs throughout the day, such as beta-carotene and manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium.
You can eat cucumbers in salads or in a smoothie. Cucumber-infused water is served in most spas. Some people have now adopted the practice of carrying a fruit infused water bottle that holds the cucumber slices in an infusion chamber.
Some of the health benefits of cucumbers are:
Cucumbers are 95% water, which helps to hydrate the body. Its carbohydrate, fat and protein content is extremely low. Each cucumber has only about 30 calories.
Cucumbers help to eliminate toxins. Cucumber juice is a diuretic, which encourages waste removal through urination. It’s also helps to neutralize acidity, thus helping to balance the body’s pH levels.
3. Cancer Protection
Cucumbers contain three lignans, i.e. lariciresinol, pinoresimol and secoisolariciresimol, which are good for preventing cancer. The World’s Healthiest Foods says:
The lignans pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol have all been identified within cucumber. Interestingly, the role of these plant lignans in cancer protection involves the role of bacteria in our digestive tract. When we consume plant lignans like those found in cucumber, bacteria in our digestive tract take hold of these lignans and convert them into enterolignans like enterodiol and enterolactone. Enterolignans have the ability to bind onto estrogen receptors and can have both pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. Reduced risk of estrogen-related cancers, including cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate has been associated with intake of dietary lignans from plant foods like cucumber.
The phytonutrient cucurbitacin, also has anti-cancer properties.
“Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins.”
Cucumbers contain antioxidants such as kaempferol, which is an antioxidant flavonoid that is known to fight cancer and prevent heart disease.
5. Brain Health
Cucumbers contain a flavonol called fisetin, which has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in mice. A daily dose of the antioxidant fisetin keeps mice—even those with genetic mutations linked to Alzheimer’s—from experiencing memory and learning deficits as they age.
A chemical that’s found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered. In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer’s symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound—a flavonol called fisetin—prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments. The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer’s disease. The new finding suggests a way to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms independently of targeting amyloid plaques.
6. Heart Health
From Live Science:
Several studies have linked cucumber consumption to reducing hypertension. Many studies have linked it with lower blood pressure because it promotes vasodiliation (widening of the blood vessels), according to Today’s Dietitian. A 2017 study published in Public Health of Indonesia found that elderly participants with hypertension saw a significant decrease in blood pressure after consuming cucumber juice for 12 days. Additionally, a 2009 review in Indian Academy of Clinical Medicine suggested that hypertension sufferers incorporate cucumbers into their diets because of the fruit’s low sodium content.
The vitamin K in cucumbers is also known to be essential in the blood-clotting process, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
7. Skin Health
Cucumbers are good for the skin. They are high in Vitamin C and caffeic acid, which helps to protect the skin from sun-damage. The Vitamin C boosts development of collagen and elastin which keeps skin healthy looking. The skin of the cucumber reduces inflammation caused by sunburn if you apply it topically. If you place a slice over each eye and leave it for at least 30 minutes, it reduces puffiness.
8. Healthy Hair
Cucumbers contain manganese, silicon, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and sulfur-sodium, which slow down hair loss and boost hair growth. With consistent use of cucumber hair mask, you end up with shiny, smooth, and manageable hair.
9. Prevent Hangovers
If you’ve had a little too much to drink and you eat a few slices of cucumber before going to bed at night, it can help prevent a hangover.
10. Improved Digestion
If you eat cucumbers daily, your digestion improves, you prevent constipation, and you reduce levels of cholesterol.
Cucumbers are listed on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which means that conventionally grown produce has been found to be contaminated with synthetic chemicals, such as pesticide residues. These pesticides can still be found after washing and peeling. For this reason, it’s important to either grow your own pesticide-free cucumbers or buy organic.