The humble cucumber, which was indigenous to Southern Asia, is today cultivated across the world and is one of the most widely used ingredients in salads and pickles. Cucumbers
, which grow on vines, are part of the melon family that includes the likes of squash, cantaloupes and pumpkins. Like watermelons, cucumbers are an excellent food choice to stay hydrated, because of their high water content. This is the same feature that also makes them a great choice for anyone looking to shed those extra pounds. There are plenty of other benefits to eating cucumbers though, so no matter what your health or physical status may be, it would be wise to include some amount of this fruit in your diet. Contrary to popular belief, cucumber is a fruit and not a vegetable. There are different variations of cucumbers, with ‘slicing’ cucumbers or ‘pickling’ cucumbers being the main variants. No matter which type you have access to, or have a preference for, you can be sure that they are all packed with a whole lot of nutrients and health benefits.
With a water content of 95%, cucumbers are among the most refreshing and cooling of all foods, especially during summer. This is why it tops most lists of cooling foods to beat the heat
, but this also gives it a prime position in most weight loss diets. The high water content, low caloric value and absence of cholesterol and fats makes it the best choice for anyone who is used to binge eating. You can simply snack on a few slices of cucumber to satiate those hunger pangs and while it will give you a temporary sensation of fullness, it will not add much to your caloric intake. In addition to its most obvious benefits, cucumbers also provide you with a small but healthy amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Cucumber for Eyes
If you are a health aficionado, the recommendation to place slices of cucumber over your eyelids may seem vain and out of place here, but it isn’t. Cucumber peels and slices for the eyelids offer a lot more than cosmetic value. Eye bags and puffiness aren’t just cosmetic problems and should be cause for concern. In addition to taking measures to lower stress levels and get adequate sleep, applying cucumber slices can offer some relief, as the vitamin C and antioxidants, especially caffeic acid, are believed to help promote healing.
Cucumber for a Healthy HeartTriglycerides
are a type of fat that can affect your risk of heart disease and elevate cholesterol levels. Excess calories that are not used by the body are converted and stored in body fat as triglycerides. This is why dietary factors are so important in the prevention of heart disease. Cucumbers are a natural food choice for any heart healthy diet because of their low caloric value and fat content. Including cucumbers in your diet can help regulate triglyceride levels because they also contain nutrients like potassium that help to regulate blood pressure and magnesium, which helps improve circulation. All of these properties help to restrict the buildup of fat deposits, lowering the risk of heart disease. Cucumbers alone will not solve your problem though, so make it a point to include other heart healthy foods like fruits, fresh vegetables, fish, whole grains and low fat dairy foods.
Cucumber for Skin
Cucumbers are widely used as an ingredient in topical applications and ointments, but in most cases it is best to simply use cucumbers in their raw form. Cucumber slices or a cucumber paste can be applied externally to rejuvenate your skin. Most of the benefits of cucumber for skin care can be attributed to its high water content, the presence of vitamin E and other antioxidants. These nutrients help to protect the skin from environmental damage because of the action of free radicals. Cucumber is not recommended as a cure for any kind of skin disease, but its regular application can help in the maintenance of healthy skin.
Cucumber for Digestive Health
Adequate hydration is essential for healthy digestion and cucumbers provide you with a healthy amount of water. In addition, cucumbers also contain some amount of fiber which aids in digestion and also helps to eliminate toxins from the body. For this reason, it may be a good idea to include cucumbers in your daily diet to improve and maintain optimal digestive health.
Cucumber in Your Diet
If you are most familiar with cucumber in its pickled form as a dressing for Lebanese food, you need to make some changes to your diet! Cucumber is healthy in almost any form, but it is best consumed raw and in salads. You can simply snack on slices of raw cucumber or garnish them with some salt and pepper and use yogurt as a dip.
If you like to experiment with your food you can try making a cucumber and beans salad:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon pepper powder
- 4 cucumbers (peeled and diced)
- 2 cups black chickpeas (boiled)
- 1 onion (sliced)
Mix the lemon juice and the olive oil in a large bowl and add the oregano and pepper powders to the mixture. Once this is done, you can throw in the cucumber and chickpeas as well. If you like you can even sauté the onions lightly before adding them in.