The Top 6 Health Benefits That Make Cucumbers So Good for You
You're about to crave cucumbers like never before.
Whether starring in a salad or dipped in creamy hummus, crunchy, refreshing cucumber is tough to resist. But this “veggie”(which is actually a fruit!) offers so much more than delicious, mild flavor and a textural element to dishes: Cucumbers are also full of healthy nutrients.
As a global culinary staple for over 3,000 years, cucumbers (scientific name: Cucumis sativus) originated in India, and their popularity soon grew, first across the Asian continent and then around the world. Cucumbers belong to the Cucurbitaceae family alongside squash, watermelon, and pumpkin—so technically they’re a fruit. With over 100 varieties available, you’ll never get bored of enjoying these cucumbers and their abundant health benefits.
Here are some of the most noteworthy reasons to keep crunching on cucumbers.
Related:How to Store Cucumbers—Including Tips on How to Freeze Them
Cucumber Health Benefits
Cucumbers are super hydrating.
If you’ve been privy to any of the health impacts of cucumbers, you may know that they’re filled with water. “Cucumbers are high in water content, helping to keep you hydrated,” says clinical dietitian Dana Melink, RD, CSO, LD explains. In fact, they’re made up of at least 95 percent water, making them one of the most hydrating foods you can eat. Given that our bodies are also made of mostly water, hydration is key to keeping all of our organ systems functioning well, particularly our kidneys. It also helps us to maintain healthy blood pressure and keeps our detoxifying systems firing on all cylinders.
Cucumbers are high in vitamin K.
With every serving of cucumbers, you’ll get closer to your daily vitamin K needs. Vitamin K most notably supports healthy blood clotting throughout the body. It’s also important for healthy bone development as a vital precursor to the protein osteocalcin, needed to create bone tissue.
Cucumbers can help reduce inflammation.
“Cucumbers are also full of antioxidants,” Melink says. Like many other plant-based foods, cucumbers are packed with plant compounds, or polyphenols, especially lignans and cucurbitacins. These plant compounds fight off inflammation throughout the body as well as free radicals, which can be the cause for chronic disease like heart disease and cancer. One article published in the International Journal of Health Sciences found that cucurbitacins are effective at not only killing cancer cells, but also preventing their proliferation through the body.
Cucumbers support healthy digestion.
Their water content combined with their fiber content make cucumbers a healthy food to eat to support digestion. Cucumbers are especially high in soluble fiber, which promotes regularity and healthy metabolism while also working to reduce cholesterol levels. Water is vital for proper digestion because it helps the body break down and absorb nutrients. It also helps to prevent constipation and bloating.
Related:What's Causing Your Gut Inflammation? These Common Triggers Might Be to Blame
Cucumbers deliver some vitamin C and potassium.
Cucumbers contain modest, but still noteworthy amounts of both vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, helps boost the immune system. Potassium helps boost cucumbers’ hydrating powers, because this mineral is an electrolyte that works to maintain fluid balance throughout the body.
Cucumbers may help regulate blood sugars.
Cucumbers can also aid in the regulation of blood sugars and prevention or maintenance of diabetes. One review published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that cucumber consumption was associated with better blood sugar control, having anti-diabetic effects. Also of note, one animal study found cukes to be protective against inflammatory side effects of diabetes, decreasing oxidative stress throughout the body.
Common Types of Cucumbers
As mentioned before, There are so many different types of cucumbers to choose from or even grow in your garden this summer.
English cucumbers (or hothouse cucumbers): Often found individually wrapped in plastic in the grocery store, the skin of these long, dark green cucumbers is thin and intended to be consumed (after washing).
Japanese cucumbers: These dark-green, narrow cucumbers have bumpy skin that’s also thin enough to be eaten without peeling.
Persian cucumbers: This type is shorter and fatter than an English cucumber but looks very similar and still delivers on the crunch factor. No need to peel, and you can find them readily in the grocery store.
Armenian cucumbers: Also called snake cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers are beautifully striped with dark- and light-green, furrowed lines. They make for the perfect snacking or pickling cukes.
Lemon cucumbers: This type of cuke you may only find at farmers’ markets—and if you do, you should definitely give it a try. Lemon cucumbers get their name from their size and shape reminiscent of the sour fruit, though with paler color. That’s about all the similarities as you can expect between the two fruits however, as these cucumbers offer a sweet, delicate flavor
Shopping for Cucumbers
Generally, when you’re purchasing cucumbers, try to buy organic (many non-organic cucumbers are often coated in edible wax for preservation at the supermarket), or at least avoid the ones with the thick, wax-coated skin. To get the most nutrition out of your cucumber it’s ideal to consume the skin, and doing so with the waxy coating on is not only unpalatable, but not great for health.
Once you have your hands on some great options, cucumbers’ “versatile and neutral flavor make them easy to incorporate into your daily routine,” Melink says. Whether it be pickling, dipping in your favorite spread, or adding to salads, salsas, or sandwiches, there’s so many ways cucumbers can seamlessly fit into your healthy lifestyle.
Fresh and Easy Cucumber Recipes
Day Dill Pickles
Hummus and Cucumber Toast
Quick-Pickled Lemon and Kirby Cucumber Salad
Sweet Chili Salmon With Cucumber Salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Spicy Feta and Olives
Celery, Cucumber, and Pineapple Juice Smoothie
Related:10 Super-Hydrating Drinks That Are Way More Interesting Than a Glass of Water
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