This super food is the fourth most cultivated plant in the world. And that’s the case for a good reason. The cucumber contains a lot of water (95 %) so it is low in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol, and because of that it’s very beneficial for our bodies.
The cucumber belongs to the botanical plant family called Curcubitaceae. Other members of this family are melons (including watermelons and cantaloupe) and squashes (including summer and winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin).
We are familiar with the most famous species of cucumber which belong to the specific species group Cucumis sativus. Although we’ve got used to place the cucumber in the group of vegetables, in a technical sense the cucumber is actually fruit. (Fruits are parts of flowering plants that come from the ovary).
Most known planted varieties of cucumber in the United States are: Slicemaster, Dasher, Conquistador, Victory, Burpee, Comet, Hybrid, and Sprint. These varieties are generally large in size and thick-skinned.
How to select and store?
Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat so you should choose those that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the supermarket. They should be firm, rounded at the edges and their colour should be bright medium to dark green. Be careful not to buy yellow cucumbers, or some that are damaged from being in water for long time or wrinkled at their tips.
Another important tip for when you are choosing the best cucumbers is that thin-skinned cucumbers more often have fewer seeds than thick-skinned cucumbers.
After you’ve bought them you should keep cucumbers in the fridge so you would slow down loss of some nutrients.
If there is some cucumber left after you have eaten some, keep it in a sealed container so that it doesn’t dry out. You should use the cucumber in maximum two days and it won’t lose any of its nutrients. Don’t left cucumbers at room temperature too long because they will wilt and become limp.
Health benefits from cucumbers
Protect your heart
Rich in potassium the cucumber can be very useful in lowering the blood pressure. According to a recent study higher level of potassium in the blood reduces the risk of stroke and prevents vascular diseases.
The recommended dose of potassium is 4,700 mg daily, but only 2 percent of U.S adults consume this dose. Eating a cucumber is a delicious way to start increasing your potassium level.
Protect your brain
The anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin is found in the cucumber. It has been found that fisetin plays an important role in protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline and also in improving your memory. Fisetin also can help maintain cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Since cucumbers are 95 percent water, they are great source of hydration while at the same time helping the body to get rid of toxins. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins the body needs daily. It’s even better if you don’t peel the cucumber because the peel contains a great amount of vitamin C.
Cucumbers are full with lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. These three polyphenols are known as lignans. They can be very helpful in reducing risk of several cancer types like: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer. Cucumbers also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which possess anti-cancer properties as well.
Remove bad breath
The most unpleasant thing which can intervene with your social relationships is having bad breath. If you have this problem, take a slice of cucumber and hold it pressed with your tongue to the upper part of your mouth. Hold the slice for 30 seconds while the phytochemcials are killing the bacteria responsible for causing bad breath.
Protect you bones
Cucumbers are rich in vitamin K (in the form of K2) which is excellent in maintaining bone mineral density. One cup of cucumber provides you with 11 percent of your daily needs. Vitamin K is fat-soluble vitamin which combines with other essential nutrients like magnesium and calcium to preserve strong bones.
Cucumbers are also rich in silica – the essential component which helps in developing strong and healthy connective tissues in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bone.
Provide you with bright and glowing complexion
We all want healthy looking skin and glowing complexion so we go to expensive treatments and we use expensive skin creams which sometimes do us more bad than good. There is a way to achieve stunning bright skin while at the same time saving money by including the cucumber in your everyday diet.
The cucumber is rich in water so it hydrates the skin in a natural way. And it is a well known fact that hydrated skin is beautiful skin. Ascorbic acid and caffeic acid are two important compounds in cucumbers which prevent water loss from the body.
If you’ve had one too many for the night, don’t worry you’ll be rested in the morning and ready for work. The only thing you need to do is to eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed. Rich in sugar, vitamin B and electrolytes cucumbers will replenish many essential nutrients into your body and prevent headache and hangover.
Prevent constipation and improve digestion
Cucumbers contain both fiber and water so they will protect your body from both constipation and kidney stones. If you ”season” your water, juice or salads with cucumber you will provide your body with the needed amount of fiber (50 grams per 1000 calories consumed).
A lot of people are unaware that they suffer from magnesium deficiency, but cucumbers are a great source of magnesium and other electrolytes which hydrate the gut and the digestive tract and help you be more “regular”.
Stay “as cool as a cucumber” by including this vegetable in your everyday diet. Rich in vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene, and more, cucumbers have been shown really effective in the process of fighting inflammation.
Several studies have shown that cucumbers are very good in fighting free radicals and thus lowering the heat of inflammation.
Detoxify the body
Cucumbers are very good in supporting the digestive tract and they are also helpful in cleansing the liver. Since cucumbers are 95 % water they are a natural diuretic food, which means they help the body produce more urine and remove toxins and waste out of the body.
Moreover, they are great for reducing bloating and uncomfortable water retention from the blood and gut, so treat yourselves with some cucumbers after a night of salty food and alcohol and ripe the benefits each next day.
Cucumbers are packed with multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5 and vitamin B7 (biotin). Since it has been shown that vitamin B is very helpful in fighting stress and anxiety, include cucumbers in your daily menu immediately.
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