Cucumbers are refreshing, juicy members in the gourd family that are popular in summer dishes and salads around the world. Cucumbers thrive in warm temperatures, making them a common addition to summertime gardens. Their mild flavor makes them easy to add to many dishes without affecting the flavor of the food, which makes cucumbers an easy way to add bulk to smaller meals. Cucumbers can also be pickled, and they pick up the flavor of the brine better than almost any other green thing. Cucumbers are technically considered berries, not vegetables. However, their green skin still offers some significant health benefits, as does the rest of the cucumber.
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in cucumber provide significant health benefits. For example, cucumber skin is full of beta-carotene, which is part of the reason for its rich green color. The carotene family of pigments are important provitamins. Your body can convert beta-carotenes into vitamin A, which is a critical vitamin for keeping your eyes and skin healthy.
Other health benefits of cucumber include:
Cucumber is a super-low calorie food. An entire cucumber, generally defined as being 8.25 inches long or 300 grams, only has 45 calories. Cucumbers are more than 96% water, so they’re filling and nutritious but not calorie-dense. This high-water, low-calorie combination is great for weight management. Studies have shown that eating foods with low energy density, or few calories per gram, is connected with weight loss in people who are obese. Cucumbers are the very definition of a food with a low energy density, so adding them to your diet may help you maintain or reduce your weight.
Cucumbers are full of nutrients that act as antioxidants. These antioxidants may have particularly powerful effects, according to some studies. One such study tested the power of cucumber powder and found that adding cucumber to the diet significantly increases the amount of antioxidant activity in the body. While more studies should be done, cucumber root is a safe way to get more dietary antioxidants easily.
Finally, cucumbers are low in carbohydrates, so they can be a good option for people with elevated blood sugar levels. Early trials suggest that cucumber is one of the most effective plants for not only reducing blood sugar levels but also lowering the risk of hypoglycemia during a blood sugar drop. For people with diabetes, cucumber may be a helpful addition to their diet to moderate blood sugar levels more effectively.
Cucumbers are full of antioxidants, particularly in their skin. These compounds help your body process and remove free radicals, which lowers your risk of health conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Cucumber is also rich in the mineral potassium. This mineral helps your nerves fire, your cells communicate, your muscles contract, and your kidneys function. Without enough potassium, you may start to notice problems with your blood pressure and heart function.
In addition to antioxidants and potassium, cucumber is an excellent source of:
Nutrients per Serving
A 1/2-cup serving of cucumber contains:
- Calories: 8
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 2 grams
- Fiber: Less than 1 gram
- Sugar: 1 gram
Because cucumber is so low in calories, it’s hard to eat too much when it comes to weight management. However, eating too much of anything can cause discomfort. Eating large amounts of cucumber in one sitting may lead to stomach pain or distress. In general, it’s best to eat a few ounces of cucumber at a time to prevent stomach discomfort.
How to Prepare Cucumber
Cucumber is a versatile food. It’s easily found in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and health food stores around the country all year long, though it may be less expensive during the summer when it’s in season.
Cucumbers are most frequently eaten raw. Their high water content can cause strange results when they are incorporated into cooked dishes. As a result, cucumbers are most commonly eaten cold. Here are a few ways to incorporate this refreshing plant into your diet.
- Sprinkle sliced cucumbers with salt as a snack.
- Eat a small cucumber on its own.
- Add cucumber slices to water.
- Include cucumbers in salads.
- Make your own pickles.
- Add cucumbers to sandwiches.
- Throw cucumber slices into smoothies.