You probably eat cucumbers all the time, but do you know the many cucumber benefits? Cucumbers are in the same family as melons and squash. There are dozens of varieties of cucumbers; some are used for eating raw while others are better for pickling.
They’re cool as…well, cucumbers—and offer nutrition, texture, and taste as well, no matter how you eat them. Cucumber benefits are actually well-documented and large in number. Some varieties have thinner skins, some are easier to grow in a greenhouse to extend the growing season. With so many to choose from, you don’t have to resign yourself to the two varieties most commonly found in the grocery store but can grow your own according to your particular taste and uses.
Here’s a peek at what these common veggies are good for as far as your health is concerned. What they can do for you may surprise you.
Due to the ease with which they’re greenhouse-grown, you can add them to your table all year ‘round—here are some compelling reasons why you should.
7 Cucumber Benefits
This vegetable can really do it all.
1. Freshens Breath
Cucumbers help to freshen breath in two ways: vegetables rich in fiber stimulate the salivary glands that wash away bacteria.
Additionally, cucumbers contain antibacterial agents that kill the germs that cause bad breath. (1)
Forget gum or breath mints. Instead, place a slice of cucumber on your tongue (with or without the skin) and hold it there for ninety seconds. Chew it up to freshen your breath and cool your mouth.
2. Kills Cancer
Cucurbitacin is a phytochemical in cucumbers and related plants that acts as a defense mechanism. In humans, it has an important role in immune response, inflammation, cell differentiation, and cell death.
By blocking a particular protein that is activated in cancerous cells, cucurbitacin stops the cells’ growth and induces their death. Studied cancer lines include breast, carcinomas of the head and neck, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, pancreas, prostate, and other types of cancer.
Plus, antioxidant alkaloids, flavonoids, and saponins in cucumber have been shown to kill breast and lung cancer cells. Because there are more pigments in the skin, it contains more antioxidants than the flesh. (3) Eaten together, you get a big dose of anti-cancer crunch in a cucumber.
3. Mega Hydration
No news here: cucumbers are mostly water (95%) and that’s a good thing. We often don’t get enough fluids and may tire of drinking plain water from a glass.
Cucumbers are a delicious way to get water and electrolytes, especially in the summer months. Try a recipe for cucumber water here.
4. Manages Blood Sugar
Great news for diabetics: cucumber can reduce blood sugar levels by 67% and low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) by 87%!
The mechanism by which this occurs is the stimulation of insulin release by the pancreas and antioxidants in cucumber that counteract hyperglycemia. (4)
With very low natural sugar (1.7 grams per 100-gram serving), cucumber may be the optimal snack for people with diabetes.
5. Protects the Brain
Fisetin is a flavanl antioxidant compound found in cucumber, strawberry, apple, grape, persimmon, mango, and other fruits and vegetables.
It has been shown to improve memory and learning, preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease in mice even when an accumulation of brain plaque occurs.
“Several studies have demonstrated the effects of fisetin against numerous diseases. It is reported to have neurotrophic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and other health beneficial effects.”
6. Vitamins and Minerals – Lots of Them
Are you sitting down? Although cucumbers are mostly water, the solid part is a nutritional powerhouse.
Here’s how one cup of cucumber fares for daily recommended intakes for these primary nutrients:
- 2 % copper
- 11 % vitamin K
- 2 % vitamin A
- 2 % thiamin (vitamin B1)
- 4 % manganese
- 2 % riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- 2 % B6
- 4 % potassium
- 2 % folate (vitamin B9)
- 2 % pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- 4 % magnesium
- 2 % calcium
- 2 % iron
- 4 % vitamin C
- 2 % phosphorus
- 2 % zinc
7. Weight Loss
Because cucumbers are comprised mostly of water, their caloric and fat content are low: 16 calories and 0.2 grams of fat per cup of raw sliced cucumber. Add to this its fiber, nutrients, and the impact of cucumber on blood sugar and it’s hard to beat this fruit for a dieter’s dream food.
We’ve listed here just a few of the health benefits of cucumbers. You should also know that cucumber is a potent detoxifier and is effective in treating sunburn and soothing sore skin. (7) For interesting ways to eat more cucumbers, you can find some recipes here.
Cucumbers can stimulate intestinal gas in some people; if this concerns you, look for “burpless” cucumbers in the produce section or seed catalog. You don’t have to let a little air get in the way of enjoying these crunchy wonders.