The cucumber is the fourth most cultivated vegetable (or should I say fruit?) in the world and is known to have some surprising health benefits.
Confusion exists around cucumber being a plant or a fruit. Cucumber is essentially a plant – cucumis sativus – that grows green juicy fruits. These fruits are sometimes used as culinary vegetables, even though they are technically fruits.
The cucumber plant originates from South Asia but is now grown all around the world. And for good reason, because the fruit is not only delicious but also quite nutritious.
The big drawback with cucumbers is that they are often sprayed with pesticides, so it’s best to buy them organic. Alternatively, if you don’t buy organic, make sure you wash cucumbers properly before eating.
Let’s find out more about the nutrients in cucumber and its surprising health benefits!
Nutritional Profile of the Cucumber
Despite the large water content (95%) in cucumbers, this delicious and versatile fruit does have quite an impressive nutritional profile.
You will notice straight away that cucumbers are very rich in vitamin K and B vitamins.
|Cucumber Nutritional Profile (raw – 100 g)|
|Dietary fiber||0.5 g|
|Calcium||16 mg (2% DV)|
|Potassium||147 mg (3% DV)|
|Magnesium||13 mg (4% DV)|
|Phosphorus||24 mg (3% DV)|
|Iron||0.28 mg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.027 mg (2% DV)|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.033 mg (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.098 mg (1% DV)|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.259 mg (5% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.04 mg (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||7 µg (2%)|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg (3%)|
|Vitamin K||16.4 µg (16%)|
|Sources: USDA, Wikipedia|
8 Surprising Health Benefits of Cucumbers
So why should you eat a cucumber every now and then? Let’s summarize the top health benefits of cucumbers:
1. Packed with Vitamins
Cucumbers are a great source of different B vitamins, also called the B vitamin complex. In general, B vitamins help our bodies running like well-oiled machines, convert our food into fuel, and help us to stay energized. Read more about how each B vitamin is good for you.
While not a vitamin C superstar, the skin does contains a good amount of this essential nutrient. Even more so, cucumbers are very rich in vitamin K, which helps to form blood clots and prevent excessive bleeding.
2. Good for Your Skin and Hair
Because cucumber has such a high water content, it has a naturally strong hydrating effect which is good news for our skin. The cucumber and our skin also share the same level of hydrogen, which makes them a perfect match.
Cucumber helps in soothing and cooling our skin, especially around sensitive or dry areas such as the eyes.
Certain nutrients in cucumber, such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium are believed to be beneficial for our hair.
3. Helps Prevent Disease
According to WHFoods, cucumber contains lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol.
Studies have shown that these so-called lignans are linked to reduced risk of not only cardiovascular disease, but also of certain cancer types.
4. Relieves Bad Breath
The phytochemicals in cucumber can kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath. Hold a slice of cucumber against the roof of your mouth for around a minute and feel refreshed.
5. Helps to Recover from That Nasty Hangover
The water content, sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes in cucumber will all help you in getting rid of, or preventing, that unwelcome hangover.
Eat one or two cucumbers before going to bed or in the morning when you wake up, and you’ll be surprised how effective it can be. Or even better, don’t drink too much!
6. Helps with Weight Loss and Digestion
Cucumber is a great diet for people who are looking to lose weight because of its low calorie and high water content.
The dietary fiber and high water content in cucumbers are effective in helping the body to get rid of toxins from the digestive system.
7. Controls Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels
The juice of cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas to produce insulin.
According to research, a compound called sterols may help to reduce cholesterol levels. The magnesium, potassium and fiber in cucumbers have a positive effect on regulating blood pressure.
8. Good for Bones
Cucumber is a great source of silica, especially in the skin, perhaps the most abundant and potent mineral to be found in the human body.
Silica helps strengthening the bones in our bodies. The calcium and B vitamins in cucumber also promote good bone health.
Final Thoughts on Cucumbers
As you can see, the health benefits of cucumbers are quite surprising. I personally love eating a cucumber by itself as it’s so refreshing. But this watery fruit also works really well in so many recipes, especially in salads.
As a green smoothie fan, I love experimenting with cucumbers in my smoothies and juices. Check out my favorite detox green smoothie recipe with cucumber, or this surprisingly delicious broccolini green smoothie with two small cucumbers.