Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie veggies contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients.
There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, but the edible types are classified as being for either slicing or pickling. Slicing cucumbers are cultivated to be eaten fresh, while pickling cucumbers are intended for the brine jar. Slicing cucumbers are usually larger and thicker-skinned than pickling ones.
While most people think of cucumbers as vegetables, they are actually a fruit. They contain seeds and grow from the ovaries of flowering plants. Cucumbers are members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae, which also includes squashes and melons. The most common type of slicing cucumber found in a grocery store is the garden cucumber, Cucumis sativus.
From cucumber water to cut cucumber serving of mixed greens, you’ll be tossing these delectable green plants into everything in the wake of taking in their astounding medical advantages.
Cucumbers are 95 percent water. This makes cucumbers a great way to stay hydrated, especially during the summer. A cup of cucumber slices is nearly as thirst-quenching as a glass of water.
The anti-inflammatory compounds in cucumbers help remove waste from the body and reduce skin irritation. Preliminary research also suggests cucumbers promote anti-wrinkling and anti-aging activity.
Cucumbers contain two phytonutrient compounds associated with anti-cancer benefits: lignans and cucurbitacins. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have been paying special attention to cucurbitacins, hoping to use them in new cancer drugs. Scientists have found that cucurbitacins can help block the signaling pathways that are important for cancer cell proliferation and survival.
Cucurbitacins can also inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, Cucurbitacin supplements inhibited the growth of seven pancreatic cancer cell lines by 50 percent, and also increased apoptosis, or "death by suicide," of pancreatic cancer cells.
Lignans may protect against cancer through working with the bacteria in the digestive tract. The bacteria take the lignans and convert them into compounds such as enterodiol and enterolactone, which can bind onto estrogen receptors and possibly reduce the risk of estrogen-related cancers, such as ovarian, breast, endometrial and prostate cancers. The research is not yet clear on whether lignans actually assert anti-cancer benefits.
You’ve probably seen pictures of people at a spa relaxing with cucumber slices over their eyes. It turns out there’s science behind this pampering ritual. Cucumbers have a cooling and soothing effect that decreases swelling, irritation and inflammation when used topically. Cucumber slices can be placed on the eyes can decrease morning puffiness or alleviate and treat sunburn when placed on the affected areas. High vegetable intake is associated with a healthy complexion in general.
In the past few decades, it has become clear that vitamin K is important to bone health, and one cup of cucumber contains about 19 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. Vitamin K intake might reduce fracture rates, work with vitamin D to increase bone density and positively affect calcium balance.
The human body uses vitamin K when building bones, and the effects seem to be especially important for women. Low vitamin K levels were associated with low bone density in women, but not in men. Low intakes of vitamin K were associated with an increased risk of hip fractures in middle-age women. This is especially interesting because the women saw results from eating lettuce, showing that dietary consumption of vitamin K via eating vegetables (not supplements) is beneficial. When it comes to men, the affects of vitamin K and bone health may become more apparent as they age.
Cucumbers contain several antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese, as well as flavonoids, triterpenes and lignans that have anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is well known for its immune system benefits, and beta-carotene has been shown to be beneficial for vision.
Fresh extracts from cucumber showed increased scavenging of free radicals. Free radicals are associated with a variety of human diseases, but can sometimes be held in check by antioxidants, according to the Pharmacognosy Review.
Another study of cucumber extracts in animals found increased overall antioxidant benefits. Though this study focused on the cosmetic applications of this use of cucumbers, decreased free radicals can improve your inside organs as well as your skin.
A positive association between the triterpene cucurbitacin and reduced inflammation, particularly in cancer cells. A review of triterpenes on the immune system suggested that they can help with inflammation and encouraged future research.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables of all kinds is associated with a reduced risk for many health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. Cucumbers’ potassium content may be especially helpful in this regard. One cup of sliced cukes contains only about 4 percent of the body’s daily potassium needs, but it comes with significantly fewer calories than most high-potassium foods like bananas. Potassium is an essential part of heart health. Many studies have linked it with lower blood pressure because it promotes vasodiliation (widening of the blood vessels).
The vitamin K in cucumbers is also known to be essential in the blood-clotting process.
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