Considering how cucumbers are most commonly used in savory dishes and salads around the world, it’s a reasonable assumption to make that it might be a vegetable. But did you know that cucumis sativus is actually a fruiting plant, and the cucumber we eat is actually a fruit? It technically falls under the gourd family of plants, and despite its worldwide popularity these days, it was originally cultivated in South Asia.
Cucumbers are popular for a few reasons, beyond their fresh taste and crisp, juicy texture. They can be easily grown in many climates because they can be cultivated in relatively short growing seasons. When compared to other fruiting plants, they are also quite resilient to pests and changes in weather. Also, despite being a seasonal vegetable in many countries, they can very easily be stored through the pickling process, which historically has allowed people to continue to enjoy them throughout the long winter months and continue to reap their nutritional benefits. While cucumbers are often listed on many diet menus because they offer a healthy way to fill your belly up without also filling up on fats, sugars and carbs – many people often overlook their nutritional content.
Nutritional Profile of Cucumbers
(per 100gs, raw, with peel)
Energy: 15 kcal
Protein: 0.65 g
Fat: 0.11 g
Carbs: 3.63 g
Fiber: 0.5 g
Sugar: 1.67 g
Minerals and Vitamins (with % Daily Value)
Calcium: 16 mg (2% DV)
Potassium: 147 mg (3% DV)
Magnesium: 13 mg (4% DV)
Phosphorus: 24 mg (3% DV)
Iron: 0.28 mg (2% DV)
Vitamin B Complex:
B1: 0.027 mg (2% DV)
B2: 0.033 mg (3% DV)
B3: 0.098 mg (1% DV)
B5: 0.259 mg (5% DV))
B6: 0.04 mg (3% DV)
B9: 7 µg (2%)
Vitamin C: 2.8 mg (3%)
Vitamin K: 16.4 µg (16%)
On top of all these essential vitamins and minerals, cucumbers are made up of 95 percent water. This makes them a great snack for people trying to manage their weight, taking diuretics, or more generally to eat during the hotter seasons. Besides the added benefit of its moisture content, there are tons of other health benefits of cucumber that you may not know about.
If you are stuck on other ways to incorporate cucumber into your diet besides a boring old salad, rest assured there are plenty of inspirational options available to you. For the starters, cucumbers are great smoothie and juice additions due to their neutral flavor. Plus, the salad options are unlimited, especially when you delve into the many interesting ways cucumbers are used throughout South Asian cuisine. Plus, you can always pickle them!
1. Packed Full of Nutrients
If you haven’t already noticed, there are significant amounts of vitamin K found in cucumbers. The vitamin K component is important for maintaining a healthy blood clotting ability. It also seems to play an important role in moving calcium (also found in some quantity in cucumbers) throughout the body.
Unlike some fruits and vegetables, cucumbers contain high levels of vitamin B complex. Vitamin B’s role in the body is important for maintaining energy levels through converting our foods into fuel. Most of the vitamins found within cucumbers are contained in their skin, so keeping the skin also keeps the vitamins and nutrients.
2. Eliminates Bad Breath
Crisp, and refreshing, cucumbers also help cut through bad breath. This is because cucumbers contain phytochemicals which specifically target some of the bad breath causing bacteria that live on your tongue and gums. In some cuisines, such as in Greek and Mediterranean, cucumber always seems to accompany stronger flavors such as onion and feta. This isn’t by coincidence, as not only do the flavors go well together the cucumber can also counteract the potent bad breath caused by these foods.
3. Dehydration and Hangover Cure
Feeling a bit hungover or craving a snack on a hot day? Why not eat some cucumber to help alleviate the dehydration! Besides the huge percentage of water, cucumbers also contain vitamin B complex and electrolytes, powerhouses in terms of counteracting the symptoms of a hangover or replenishing what is lost through sweat on a hot summer day.
4. Bone Support
Cucumbers contain something called silica, which has been found to boost bone strength. It is one of the most prolific minerals used by our bodies, promoting much more than simply strong bones. Plus, vitamin B also has the potential to strengthen bones.
5. Good for Blood Sugar Regulation
Recent research has discovered that something found in cucumber juice helps people manage blood sugar levels. This is important for the pancreas, and the production of insulin. Plus, cucumbers basically contain zero sugars!
6. Great for Skin and Hair
Also, due to the silica content, cucumbers are also beneficial for healthy skin and hair. Its water content is a good way to help keep your skin hydrated, and it’s not a surprise that cucumber slices are often used in spa treatments to place over eyes and reduce the visibility of dark circles. Some research also proposes that some of trace minerals found in cucumbers can help promote healthy skin and hair, including magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
7. Helps with Weight Loss
A healthy, hydrating snack for any diet, cucumbers contain high levels of fiber, which help smooth out the flow of the digestive tract and facilitate better absorption of nutrients and minerals. Plus, you can eat literally as much as you want without feeling guilty, as cucumbers are literally full of only the good stuff.
8. Manages Cholesterol and Blood pressure
Although it definitely flies under the radar, cucumbers are a great food for heart health as well. Because they contain sterols, they help manage a healthy cholesterol level and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease. On top of this, let’s not forget the fact that some of the trace minerals found within cucumbers such as potassium and magnesium (plus fiber!) all have a regulating effect of blood pressure.