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Cucumis sativus, which is the scientific name for the cucumber, is a refreshing and tasty fruit that’s in season during the summer months. A close relative to the summer squash, zucchini, watermelon, and cantaloupe, cucumbers are fraught with nutrients and are composed predominantly of water. Cucumbers, like many fruits and vegetables, are super versatile and can easily be incorporated into any meal or snack time. They can be deliciously added to a salad, paired with dips, enjoyed whole or pickled, juiced, and even reduced to powders. Best of all, cucumbers have many wonderful health benefits as explained below.
Important Note: The health benefits associated with cucumbers that are discussed herein, represent the most current scientific research at the date of this publication. Be sure to keep abreast of more current research as time advances.
Cucumbers are a low-calorie fruit, sometimes mistaken for a vegetable, that is perfect for snacking on. Packed with nutrients, cucumbers pack a real punch of vitamins and minerals. Some of the most prevalent vitamins contained in cucumbers include vitamins C and K as well as magnesium, potassium, manganese, fiber, and protein. The vitamin K content of cucumbers delivers a whopping 64% of the daily recommended intake while vitamin C has about 14%, potassium 13%, and manganese 12%, respectable numbers in their own right. What’s more, cucumbers are made up of 94% water and only very few carbohydrates per serving. Of note, while a whole cucumber contains about 2 grams of fiber, the fiber is contained in the skin; if you’re looking to benefit from the fiber content, it’s important to eat your cucumber unpeeled as doing so provides maximum nutrition.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, cucumbers are fraught with many important nutrients making this tasty fruit a recommended addition to your diet.
Rife With Antioxidants
Cucumbers are also packed with antioxidants which reduce harmful free radicals. Essentially, antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent them from leading to chronic illness and disease. Stress caused by free radicals can lead to certain types of cancers and autoimmune diseases as well as heart and lung disease. Resultantly, cucumbers, if eaten regularly, might reduce your risk for these diseases. One 30-day study in 30 adults showed that daily cucumber powder consumption led to improved antioxidant activity in each subject. A subsequent study showed that the flavonoids and tannins, compounds that act as antioxidants in cucumbers, successfully block free radicals in human biology.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Scientific study after study indicates that the antioxidants, flavonoids, and tannins in cucumbers work well to neutralize the free radicals that lead to chronic illness.
Just like other members of the cucumber family, fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers have high water content. In fact, cucumbers are made up of a tremendous 96% water. As a result, cucumbers are beneficial to hydration. Hydration is essential to lubricating joints, regulating body temperature, the operations of organs, skin health, and so much more. Although your daily water intake will likely come from drinking water, fruits high in water content such as cucumbers can only improve matters. Because cucumbers have such a high water makeup, they can truly enhance your daily hydration.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. There’s no denying the high water content in cucumbers; as hydration is essential to so many biological functions, there’s every reason to maximize hydration through fruits and vegetables like cucumbers.
Supports Weight Loss
As a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate fruit, cucumbers are supportive of weight-loss and weight-maintenance goals. For starters, a serving of cucumber, which equates to approximately one-third of a whole cucumber, contains just 16 calories and about 4 carbohydrates. The high water content as well as the fiber content make cucumbers a healthy choice for snacking and a nutrient-rich source of vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, cucumbers are a much wiser choice than low-calorie snacks that may contain more carbohydrates or refined sugars. Finally, cucumbers are versatile and can be easily incorporated into any meal time. They’re great in wraps and on sandwiches as well as in salads and eaten whole.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Cucumbers are low in the bad stuff and high in good stuff making them a weight-loss-friendly choice.
Lowers Blood Sugar
In addition to being low in carbohydrates and having a low glycemic index rating, making cucumbers a diabetic diet-friendly food, cucumbers may also help to reduce high blood sugar. High blood sugar can be dangerous to individuals with diabetes. Diabetics may use combined measures of food and medicine to reduce high sugar levels at times of spikes. Cucumbers are purportedly one useful food for reducing blood sugar. Many animal and test tube studies show a direct correlation between eating cucumbers and lowering blood sugar levels. While many studies indicated that cucumber consumption in fact lowers blood sugars, others indicate that mice that were given diabetes saw the reversal of that diagnosis with regular consumption of cucumber peel extract. Another study showed that the antioxidants in cucumbers managed the free radicals that may have otherwise led to diabetes.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While the current breadth of research is promising, it’s unfortunately limited to animals and test tubes; human studies are needed to connect the usefulness of cucumbers to human diabetics.
One of the other useful ways that cucumbers can help you out is with digestion, specifically bowel movements. It’s widely known fact that one of the leading factors of constipation is dehydration. Cucumber’s high water volume, as previously noted, enhances hydration which can in turn help to regulate bowel movements. Another factor that aids with digestion is the fact that cucumbers are high in fiber (again, when eaten unpeeled). Fiber, like optimal hydration, is also widely known for improving digestion and regulating bowel movements. The specific kind of fiber found in cucumbers is known as pectin; pectin has been shown to induce bowel movements as well as improve gut health. Taken together, cucumbers have the making to enhance digestion naturally and gently.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Thousands of studies indicate that cucumbers are integral to digestive health and healthy bowel movements.
Reduces Eye Puffiness
You’ve likely seen beauty and spa advertisements depicting men and women donning cucumbers atop their eyelids. But is there any science to the assertion that cucumbers aid in reducing eye puffiness? Well, yes, this is true. Not only do cool cucumbers reduce inflammation like ice would but more gently so, the water content in cucumbers is uber hydrating to the skin when used topically. The combination of the cool temperature and the hydrating effect work together to reduce eye puffiness.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. It’s true. Simply chill your cucumber slices and find ten minutes to kick back and relax; your eye puffiness will be reduced in no time.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although vitamin K and manganese, both of which are present in cucumbers, play a role in sexual health, there are too few studies linking cucumbers to improved libido.
Prevents Hair Loss
General Consensus: 1/5 and here is why. One of the common causes of hair loss is poor scalp health. Proper hydration can improve scalp health and therefore prevent hair loss. Unfortunately, cucumbers can’t provide enough hydration for this effect.