Health/Fitness

Health and Nutritional Value of Cucumber

Cucumber is a fruit from the “Cucurbitaceae” family. Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, it belongs to the same family as zucchini, watermelon, pumpkin and other types of summer squash. The plant where cucumber grows is a vine that develops these cylindrical, edible fruits throughout the year. varieties of cucumbers are grown in different regions of this country and beyound, and they are usually eaten fresh or pickled. Cucumbers typically eaten fresh are called slicing cucumbers. Gherkin cucumbers are specially produced to make pickles. These are much smaller in size than the slicing ones. Slicing cucumbers are available throughout the year, but they are at their best between May and July.

About Cucumber

Cucumbers originated in India almost 10,000 years ago, but are now cultivated in many countries. Different varieties of cucumbers are traded in the international market and you will find them in abundance all year long. In the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the cucumber was very popular, and its uses were not limited to just being food. It was also praised for its beneficial effects on the skin. Louis XIV cherished cucumbers greatly and the process of cultivating them in greenhouses was invented during his time to make sure he was able to have a steady supply of the enjoyable fruit during any season. The American colonists also took this variety of crunchy and healthy squash to the United States. It is still unknown when cucumbers began to be used for pickling, but researchers have speculated that the gherkin variety of cucumber was developed from a native African plant. Spain was one of the countries, during ancient times, that started pickling cucumbers since Roman emperors imported them from this Mediterranean country. Cucumbers are extremely beneficial for overall health, especially during the summer since they are mostly made of water and vital nutrients that are necessary for the human body. The flesh of cucumbers is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Folic Acid, while the hard skin is rich in fiber and a range of  mineral including magnesium molybdenum, and potassium. Additionally, cucumber contains silica, a trace mineral that contributes greatly to strengthening our connective tissues. They are known to heal many skin problems, under eye swelling, and sunburn. Cucumbers also contain ascorbic and caffeine acids which prevent water loss, therefore they are frequently applied topically to burns and dermatitis.

Features Of Cucumbers

The skin of the cucumbers can vary in color from green to white, and sometimes it may be smooth or ridged depending on the variety. Inside the cucumber skin, you will find pale green flesh that is thick yet aqueous and crispy at the same time. The inside of a cucumber has numerous, edible fleshy seeds. which speaks directly to the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten. These fruits are grown mainly to be eaten fresh, you will often find sliced cucumbers being sold during sunny afternoons. They are usually cylindrical in shape and vary in length from about six to nine inches. However, the size of cucumbers varies according to a variety of cultivating factors as well. Many cucumber varieties are also grown in greenhouses; they are seedless with thinner skin and a longer length, usually between 12 and 20 inches. Often known as “burp less”, this variety of cucumber is bought by a majority, since it is easier to digest than the other kinds of cucumbers.

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Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

 The health benefits of cucumber are not quite known to all. The taste of fresh cucumber is somewhat bland in comparison to other squashes, but the thirst quenching and the cooling qualities of this squash are truly refreshing. Here are some of the health benefits of cucumber;

Skin Care

The fruit cucumber is rich in silica, which is an essential component that aids in developing strong and healthy connective tissues in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bones. Doctors often recommend cucumber juice because of the silica content for a healthier and brighter skin. Cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating, and it is well known that moisture is the best friend to healthy skin.The extract of cucumbers is often used topically for treating various types of skin ailments like sunburn and swelling under the eyes. Ascorbic and caffeine acid are the two vital compounds in cucumbers that prevent water loss from the body. These are some of the reasons why cucumbers are applied topically for various skin problems. Cucumber also promotes healthy hair growth and prevents acne.

Prevent Constipation & Kidney Stones

Cucumbers contains a blend of both fiber and water. Therefore, they help to protect your body from constipation and kidney stones. Cucumber is also a good source of vitamin C, silica, potassium, and magnesium; all of which have their own health benefits. These fruits have an extraordinary amount of water (about 96%) that is naturally purified, thus making the water content much higher in quality than ordinary water. Cucumber skin contains high levels of vitamin A thereby, making you gain more nutrition if you eat the entire fruit.

Control Blood Pressure

The studies done at DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) consisted of people consuming foods high in magnesium, potassium, and fiber. The results were clear; their blood pressure lowered to normal levels. The group eating a diet rich in these complexes along with the other foods on the diet like seafood, low-fat dairy items, lean meat, and poultry saw their blood pressure falling by 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic). Cucumber, therefore, regulates blood pressure and contributes to the proper structure of connective tissues in our body, including those in the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.

Manage Diabetes

Cucumber is one fruit which have been used for diabetic patients for many years. They possess a hormone required by the better cells during insulin production. The glycemic index (GI) of cucumbers is actually zero. The presence of carbohydrates and their result on the body is measured by the quantity of glycemic index (GI). Every food item contains essential nutrients in different percentages. The carbohydrates contribute to raising the glucose level, however, the ones present in the cucumber can be easily digested by diabetic patients. Thus, consumption of this cool fruit keeps the glucose level in check. In recent times, most commercial stores have cucumber supplements as spiny sea cucumber extract powder.

Maintain Overall Health

Cucumbers have excellent cleaning properties, they actively remove accumulated waste and toxins from your body. These fruits are very good for optimizing urinary bladder, kidney, liver and pancreatic functions. Cucumber juice along with carrot juice is extremely effective for rheumatic conditions caused by excessive uric acid in the body. Drinking cucumber juice on a regular basis also helps cure gout and eczema. Cucumber also helps in taking care of lung and stomach problems.It also promotes muscle flexibility, while the magnesium content of cucumbers ensures proper blood circulation and relaxed nerves. Since cucumbers are rich in minerals, they even prevent splitting of the finger and toenails. Cucumbers often act as antioxidants when you consume them with barbecued and fried foods.

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Other Benefits

  • Cucumber has high alkaline levels, thus regulating the body’s blood pH and neutralizing acidity, and also good for consumption by those with gastric issues.
  • Cucumbers help normalize body temperature during summer. Cucumber juice is diuretic, so it is able to prevent kidney stones too. It can also counter the effects of uric acid, which prevents inflammation from conditions like arthritis, asthma, and gout.
  • Cucumber helps fight heat both inside and out, also giving you a relief from heartburn.
  • Cucumber also helps in aiding weight loss.
  • Placing chilled slices of cucumber on the eyes appears as a beauty tip, but it helps revive the eyes by reducing under-eye bags and puffiness.
  • Cucumber helps in cutting down the risk of cancer.
  • Cucumber also helps in refreshing the mouth
  • Cucumber helps in controlling and reducing cholesterol.

How to buy Cucumbers?

Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, so try to select the ones which are displayed in the refrigerated cases in the stores. Look for firm ones and check if the color is bright medium green to dark green. Avoid the yellow, puffy cucumbers that have water-soaked areas or wrinkled tips as you will find fewer seeds in the thinner cucumbers.

How to store Cucumbers?

Storing cucumbers in the refrigerator will help retain their freshness for a longer time. If the entire fruit is not used in one meal, then wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a closed container so that it does not get dried out. Try to eat cucumbers within one or two days of buying them or else they will become limp, especially if kept for more than a week.

How to cut and eat Cucumbers?

Cucumbers can be cut into various shapes and sizes and can be sliced, diced or cut into sticks. Cucumber seeds are edible and very nutritious, but some people prefer not to eat them. You can cut them lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop the seeds accordingly.

You can also make an excellent puree with cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. Add salt and pepper for some extra flavor. Cucumbers give a fresh taste to tuna fish or chicken salad preparations. They can be eaten alone in their sliced form or with sprinkled salt and pepper. No matter how you eat cucumbers, you are sure to get a whole lot of nutrition.

Side Effects of Wrong or Excessive Consumption of Cucumber

1. It Could Prove To Be Toxic:

The presence of the toxins, such as cucurbitacins and tetracyclic triterpenoids in cucumber is a thing to worry about. Studies have proven that these elements trigger the bitter taste in these wonderful veggies. Researches point out that consuming cucumber beyond moderation could even be life threatening.

2. Excessive Loss Of Fluid:

Cucumber seeds are the source of cucurbitin, an ingredient that is known to possess innate diuretic properties. Even though the diuretic nature is mild, excessive intake could prove to be less harmful for you. When ingested in large quantities, this diuretic ingredients result in excessive elimination of fluid from your body, hampering the electrolytic balance. In extreme conditions, it could leave you gravely dehydrated!

3. Side Effects Of Excessive Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is an immune boosting element. it plays a major role in preventing and combating various health conditions, including flu and scurvy. It is also a powerful antioxidant. Nevertheless, exceeding the recommended limits come with its own set of harmful effects. Vitamin C, when ingested in extremely large quantities acts like a pro-oxidant against its innate anti-oxidation nature. This, in turn triggers the growth and spread of free radicals. And, when free radicals roam around, you will be at a higher risk of cancer, acne, premature aging, and so on.

Hyperkalemia is a medical condition that arises due to the presence of high potassium content in the body. It leads to bloating, abdominal cramps, and intestinal gas, initially. The condition worsens over the time, hampering the functioning of the kidneys in an effective way. This, in turn, puts your renal system at the risk of succumbing to damages.

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5. Watch Your Heart:

7. Bloating And Flatulence:

8. Oral And Skin Allergy:

Study conducted by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology on the allergic reactions of cucumber on human beings suggest that people who are allergic to ragweed pollen, melons, chamomile tea, bananas, and sunflower seeds could also experience allergy after consuming this green skinned veggie. Even though cooking or grilling cucumbers could possibly remove this threat, it is better to substitute zucchini for the same to avoid allergies.

If you have sinusitis or any kind of chronic respiratory conditions, then it is advisable to stay away from eating cucumber. If Ayurveda practitioners are to be believed, the cooling effects of these veggies aggravate such conditions, leading to complications.

10. Cucumber During Pregnancy:

While cucumber is generally considered safe during pregnancy, there are certain conditions which could make you uncomfortable if cucumbers are consumed excessively.

  • The diuretic nature of these veggies will trigger frequent urination, leaving you irritated and uncomfortable.
  • Cucumbers are good sources of fiber and hence, uncontrolled portions could leave you bloated. You might also experience a distended tummy along with abdominal pain.

Tips on how to Avoid Cucumber Side Effects:

Here are a few handy tips that you could try to avoid the aforementioned side effects of eating cucumbers.

  • Wash the cucumber thoroughly under running water.
  • Ensure to remove the peels of the cucumber to safeguard yourself and your family from the toxins hidden on the peels.
  • If you find that raw cucumbers are giving you a tough time, then try sauteing or grilling.

The saying ‘too much of anything is bad’ is quite appropriate here. The ideal quantity of daily intake varies from person to person.

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