As spring gardens turn into summertime bounties, we eagerly anticipate the cool, crisp crunch of a fresh picked cucumber. These jade gems, which are related to watermelon, zucchini and squash, are one of the most popular vegetables, maybe because they are so versatile. After all, with one single cucumber you can dress up a salad, soothe puffy eyes and add a clean, refreshing element to your after-dinner cocktail.
While cucumbers are a common dietary staple, you don’t often see them on trendy lists of superfoods. The truth is that cucumbers boast some amazing health benefits, many of which you might not be aware of. There is no better time to begin your cucumber education than right now, starting with this list of the top 13 amazing health benefits of cucumbers.
1. Great Source of the B Vitamin Family
Cucumbers are rich in many vitamins including those in the B vitamin family, along with others such as vitamin C and vitamin K. It is their composition of the B vitamins though that lends so much to the cucumbers nutritional powerhouse status.
B vitamins are essential for keeping your body healthy and running smoothly. Your body also uses B vitamins to help convert energy, build red blood cells, and to support DNA synthesis, which is especially important for women of childbearing age. One medium sized cucumber, contain 7% of the recommended daily intake of B9, more commonly known as folate or folic acid.
Cucumbers also contain vitamins B1, B5, and B7, the combination of which helps to protect your body from the damaging effects of chronic stress, reduces symptoms of anxiety and naturally fights off fatigue.
2. Keep You Looking Good with Magnesium and Potassium
Health and beauty often go hand in hand, especially when you fuel your body with superfoods that heal from the inside and leave you with a radiant glow as a result. Magnesium and potassium are two minerals that work together to keep your skin healthy by regulating cellular reproduction and fighting free radicals that damage and prematurely age your skin.
While you have probably seen pictures of spa treatments with glistening slices of cucumbers placed over the eyes, cucumbers contain enough magnesium and potassium to help heal and rebuild and rejuvenate your skin from the inside out.
3. Natural Detoxifier
Detox waters are infusions of fruits and vegetables in pure water. The purpose of them is to flush out excess toxins and fats from your system. The most popular and effective detox waters contain cucumber, sometimes mixed with lemon or mint, and there is some powerful evidence behind this concoction.
Cucumbers are naturally high in antioxidants and have natural cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, cucumbers contain an amino acid which helps to eliminate toxins from the kidneys and liver. Plus, when you consume a cucumber, you are taking in both water and fiber, two components which are essential for removing toxins from the body.
4. Keep You Standing Strong with Vitamin K
One cup of crisp, fresh cucumber slices contains almost 20% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, while a whole medium sized cucumber will easily put you over the 50% mark for your daily intake.
Current research from the University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that vitamin K is one of the most important nutritional components for bone health. Vitamin K helps to keep bones strong by building bone density and reducing the risk of fracture. Cucumbers are on the list of the top vitamin K containing foods.
5. Perfect Post Workout Tonic to Soothe Muscle Pain
If you are looking for a delicious, restorative drink for your post workout period, you should include cucumber as one of your primary ingredients.
To begin, cucumbers are high in water content which will help to rehydrate you. Cucumbers are an anti-inflammatory food that also contains silica, which helps to strengthen the connective tissue in the body. This combination provides whole body support as you recover from your workout.
6. Cucumbers Keep You Hydrated
Ever wonder why cucumbers are so refreshing? The answer has something to do with the fact that they are about 95% water. Many of us don’t drink enough liquids, and when we do, our choices are sometimes heavy on the caffeine, which only serves to dehydrate the body more.
Considering that many chronic health ailments, such as headaches, fatigue and digestive distress and be triggered or made worse by dehydration, adding cucumbers to your diet on a regular basis can help ensure that you are staying adequately hydrated.
7. Cool Brain Food
Cucumbers contain the inflammation reducing flavonol called fisetin. Fisetin helps to protect the nerve cells in the brain from natural, age related decline. The protective effects of fisetin keep your memory stronger for longer and can possibly reduce the impact of cognitive degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Nature’s Soothing Anti-inflammatory
When you think of inflammation, you might associate it with red, hot pain. Now, when you think of cucumber, the pale, soothing coolness seems like a natural counter for chronic inflammation. It turns out that cucumbers actually inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes, such as COX-2, therefore reducing the occurrence, duration and severity of inflammatory responses.
9. Aids in the Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Cucumbers are a natural palate cleanser and can help freshen your breath after a meal or when you are unable to reach for your toothbrush. While clean fresh breath is an important part of oral hygiene and health, the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease is one of the top concerns of dentists everywhere.
Eating a cucumber will help to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Additionally, cucumbers balance the pH in your mouth, that when too acidic can contribute to painful, bleeding gums.
10. Relieves Heartburn
In much the same way that cucumbers can balance the pH in your mouth, they can also do the same in your stomach. An acidic stomach is what causes the acid reflux back up into the esophagus, which we know as heartburn.
Try adding cucumbers to meals that contain highly acidic foods to reduce the unpleasant effects of post meal heartburn.
11. Lowers Blood Pressure
While no single food can be responsible for lowering blood pressure, a diet rich in foods that are known to contain vitamins and nutrients that prevent high blood pressure is essential for the treatment of hypertensive disorders. Cucumbers contain potassium, magnesium and fiber; three nutrients that work together to regulate blood pressure.
12. Lowers Cholesterol
According to reports from Harvard Medical School, compound called sterols can potentially help to lower bad cholesterol levels. Sterols are naturally occurring in a variety of foods including grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers.
13. Cucumbers are an Anti-Cancer Food
Cucumbers help reduce the risk of cancer in several ways. First, chronic systemic inflammation is thought to be a risk factor in certain types of cancer. Cucumbers, being an anti-inflammatory food help to reduce that risk. Cucumbers also contain phytonutrients and polyphenols which are thought to help inhibit the development and growth of cancer cells, especially in cancers of the breast, uterus, ovary and prostate.
There you have it, thirteen reasons to add a few extra cucumbers into your shopping cart this week. Sometimes the most common healthy foods, that we often take for granted, are the most beneficial to our health, not to mention simply delicious. Make sure cucumbers make it onto your grocery list and they will repay you by keeping your body and mind healthy and strong.