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 they can be found throughout the year. There is nothing like cucumbers after a heavy meal to cool off your tummy, as it is 95 % water. Cucumbers are low in calories but pack a good punch, when it comes to nutrients.
Benefits of cucumber
- Skin Care – 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. Dr. Barry Popkin, an American food science researcher and a professor at the University of North Carolina, in his study, highlights the importance of fluids and hydration and cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating. It is also 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 caffeic 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.
- Prevent Constipation & Kidney Stones – Cucumbers are perfect blend of both fiber and water. Therefore, they help to protect the 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, so the whole fruit can be consumed for more nutrition.
- Controls Blood Pressure – Cucumber 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 – A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology throws light on the anti-hyperglycemic effect of cucumber. Cucumbers have been used for diabetic patients for many years. They possess a hormone required by the beta 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. Nowadays, most of the commercial stores have cucumber supplements as spiny sea cucumber extract powder, which is very effective in combating the effects of diabetes.
- Maintains Overall Health – Cucumbers have excellent cleaning properties, and they actively remove accumulated waste and toxins from the 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 to cure gout and eczema. Cucumber also provides relief in lung and stomach related problems. It also promotes the 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 toe nails. Cucumbers often act as antioxidants, when consumed with barbecued and fried foods.
Cucumber has high alkaline levels, thus regulating the body’s blood pH and neutralizing acidity. People with gastric issues should consume cucumbers frequently.
Cucumbers help normalize body temperature during summer. Cucumber juice is a 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.
Adding cucumbers to your diet
Cucumbers can be eaten raw, with or without the peel or can be added to salad or juices.
Recipe for Cucumber raita
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
To flavor salt
1 bowl curd
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Handful of coriander leaves chopped
Take the curd and add onion, cucumber and lemon juice.
Season it with salt, red chilli powder and coriander leaves.
Mix well and refrigerate for a while.
Recipe for Cucumber and peanut salad
Servings – 2, Prep Time – 25 mins, Cook Time – 25 mins, Total Time – 50 mins
1 kg long cucumbers
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanut, crushed
1 lime, juiced
For the tempering:
3 Tbsp ghee
1 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder (heeng)
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
Peel the cucumbers and quarter them lengthwise. Scrape off any large seeds. Dice the cucumbers, place in a colander (sieve) over a bowl and refrigerate.
When they are cool, discard any water collected. Mix the coconut and sugar in a bowl and toss the cucumbers in it.
Heat ghee in a pan on medium flame and add the mustard seeds, asafoetida powder, green chillies, when it is hot. When the spices splutter, cool and pour onto the cucumbers. Toss well.
Add the lime juice, peanuts, salt and toss. Serve immediately.
- Cucumber cotains toxins like cucurbitacins and tetracyclic triterpenoids, which can prove fatal if consumed in large quantities.
- Cucurbitin, a mild anti-diuretic present in cucumber can leave you highly dehydrated, if consumed in large quantities.
- Excess intake of vitamin A works as pro-oxidant rather than ant-oxidant.
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