Cucumber belongs to the gourd family, cucurbitaceae, and muskmelon and squash are in the same genus. A native of India, now grown almost everywhere, cucumber is well known for its indisputable health benefits. The Romans used it to counter bad eyesight, treat scorpion bites, and scare mice. Cucumbers are available in both sliced and pickled varieties; they are also available whole. They are eaten either sliced and raw or pickled. The pickling variety has a longer shelf life. Some other are varieties tender skinned and smaller.
Cucumbers are tasty and are highly beneficial for health. Cucumbers contain plenty of water and are also very rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), among other vitamins and nutrients. They have slight melon taste, and some of them can turn bitter. In India, the tips are cut off and salt is rubbed on them till it becomes frothy; this helps to remove its bitterness.
Cucumbers are good source of vitamins B1, B2 and B3, vitamin C, folic acid, ascorbic acid, cafeic acid, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, and dietary fiber. Some of the benefits of cucumbers are as follows.
- Cucumbers are very helpful for digestive problems. They effectively cleanse the digestive system and cool down the body as well. Eating cucumbers is considered excellent to counter constipation as it has dietary fiber. They also keep the body hydrated, and they are a good choice in hot temperatures as they flush toxins from the body, thus regulating body temperature. Cucumbers contain 95 percent of water that help benefit the body in many ways.
- Cucumbers are low in calories making them a good choice for those looking to lose weight.
- Ascorbic acid and cafeic acid present in cucumber reduce water retention, which aids greatly in skin care.
- Cucumbers can be eaten to reduce puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. Cucumbers slices can also be placed on the eyes to cool tired eyes.
- Cucumber face masks help refreshing the skin and soften it. Cucumber juice is widely used in skin and hair care products. Cucumber juice is valuable in keeping the skin firm and soft. It is effective against sunburns and windburns.
- The healing properties of cucumbers are well known as it contains lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolaresinol, the three lignans that are known to be useful in fighting cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer.
- Cucumbers are useful in treating low as well as high blood pressure as they contain potassium and manganese, which regulate blood pressure.
- Cucumbers are beneficial for teeth and gums, especially in treating pyorrhea. The fiber content helps massage the gums while eating.
- Silica present in cucumbers enhances joint health and reinforces connective tissues.
- Cucumbers are rich in antioxidants that help in protecting the body against various diseases. According to studies cucumbers contain lower amounts of phytochemicals and phenolic compounds and have an anti-proliferative affect in relation to cancer cells.
- Cucumbers contain vitamin K that aids in building bone mass and helps with osteoporosis.
- They are used in treating patients with Alzheimer’s disease as it limits the neuronal damage in the brain.
The skin and seeds give added nutritional value to the health benefits that cucumber provides. The fiber content in cucumber helps in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. They tend to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, improve glycemic control, reduce blood pressure, reduce risk of certain forms of cancers, and improve gastrointestinal function.
To make the best of cucumbers, it is important to wash them thoroughly as they are most often waxed, unless grown organically. Synthetic waxes can cause contamination of food. To enjoy cucumbers, add them to vegetable salads or eat julienned cucumber mixed with yoghurt.
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