Cucumber – The Champion of Good Health!

A sumptuous lunch or dinner is incomplete without cucumber. Fondly called kheera in Hindi, a cucumber is made up of 95% water. This makes it the best cooling and hydrating summer food.

Most of us are used to seeing cucumber in small to moderate sizes. But you will be surprised to know that the biggest cucumber grown in Southern China on record weighed 154 pounds, and was more than 5 feet long! The nutritional benefits of cucumber that we now share with you are as tall and bulky as its size and length.

Cucumbers hail from the plant family that includes melons, squash, and pumpkin. They are naturally low in sodium, calories, fat and cholesterol. Since they have high water content, you can expect almost negligible dehydration in your body. This is a major advantage of cucumbers that helps you face the heat wave well. Even the pickiest eaters cannot resist the refreshing and mild taste of a cucumber.

There are two types of cucumbers – slicing (produced for raw consumption) and pickling (meant for processing of pickles). In short, you get the best of both worlds. We do hope you will now be lenient in eating and enjoying cucumbers.

Nutritional rundown of Cucumber

If you were to go through the USDA National Nutrient Database, cucumbers have nutrition galore that can’t be ignored.

One cup of raw sliced cucumber with peel on (approx 119 grams) has the following:

–          115 grams water

–          0.8 grams of protein

–          0.2 grams of fat

–          2.9 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.9 grams fiber and 1.8 grams sugar) and

–          16 calories

What does one cup of cucumber provide to you?

–          11% of vitamin K

–          4% of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese and

–          2% of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper needs for the day.

Cucumbers also have lignans that have shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer.

Plenty of Reasons to Eat Cucumbers

  1. Looks after your Brain

Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory flavonol that helps in maintaining brain health. Apart from boosting your memory, it also protects your nerve cells from declining, which usually happens with age.

  1. Reduces Cancer Risk

Cucumbers contain polyphenols that help in lowering your risk of uterine, ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers. They also have phytonutrients known as cucurbitacins that have anti-cancerous properties. As you can see, this humble vegetable puts in its best while protecting you from the deadly cancer.

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

Cucumbers have numerous antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, and antioxidant flavonoids that lower your risk of chronic ailments including heart disease.

  1. Boosts Digestive Health

Water and fiber are the two basic elements found in cucumber that bring in healthy digestion. Whenever you are struggling with acid reflux, drinking water helps in reducing acute symptoms.

The cucumber skins are equally friendly. The skins have insoluble fiber which adds bulk to your stool. This makes food pass through your digestive tract quickly for faster removal from the body. If garbage stays in your body for long, you know the health implications it can cause.

  1. Keeps your weight in check  

Being low in calories, cucumbers make a filling snack. The soluble fibers in it dissolve into a gel-like texture in your gut. This helps in slowing down the process of digestion and helps you feel full longer. This could be one of the reasons why foods rich in fibre such as cucumber help in weight control.

  1. Freshens your breath

Most of you might be in the habit of swishing your mouth with anti-bacterial mouthwashes. Cucumber is the natural way to fight bad breath.

Place a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth. It will help get rid of odour-causing bacteria. If you go back to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers help majorly in releasing excess of heat in your stomach (which is a primary cause of bad breath).

  1. Stress Fighter

Why take stress-fighting pills when a cucumber would happily fill the gap? Cucumbers are loaded with B vitamins, and that includes vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). Scientific studies have shown B vitamins help in easing anxiety and minimise the damaging effects of stress.

  1. Aids in Heart Health

Cucumbers have potassium, a mineral widely associated with lowering blood pressure.

  1. Skin Beneficiary

Topical application of cucumber always brings a soothing and cooling effect. Cucumber when applied on skin decreases swelling, irritation as well as skin inflammation. Ladies in particular must be familiar with round cucumber slices being placed on their eyes in beauty parlours. This is done to reduce eye puffiness and treat sunburn. What a journey from food to beauty aid!

  1. Bone Health

Whenever you are depriving your body of vitamin K, remember one thing: you place yourself at  a higher risk of bone fracture. This is why you need to have adequate amounts of vitamin K. And that can only happen when you take a rich diet comprising of fruits and vegetables. When you do that, it helps improve calcium absorption in your body, which is very important to maintain optimal bone health.

How to include Cucumber into your diet

  1.  Process of Selection

Fresh cucumbers are bright green in colour, stout and firm. Whenever you are out shopping for it in the vegetable market or grocery store, look out for any cuts or spots on it.

Avoid buying overly mature cucumber since their skin is tough and they have mature seeds that are inedible.

Cucumbers with wrinkled ends should be avoided as they signify old stock and devoid of flavour. Organically grown cucumbers are the best since they have the right kind of flavour and nutrition.

When you bring cucumbers home, wash them thoroughly in clean water in order to remove dirt and hidden pesticide residues. This way, you will be sure of healthy food going to the dining table and not harmful germs!

Also try keeping the skins of cucumbers and not discard them while eating. The peel of a cucumber has fiber, minerals and phytonutrients, which are beneficial for your health.

Store the cucumbers at room temperature for a day. Follow it up by storing it in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness.

  1. Serving Methods

Once you are through with washing the cucumbers, trim their ends by using a sharp knife. Then use the chopped off ends to rub the exposed edges of the cucumber in order to get rid of the sticky fluid that oozes out. This is a time-tested remedy that lessens the bitter taste found at the opposite ends of a cucumber.

The art of serving cucumber makes a whole lot of difference in giving you and your guests a feel-good factor while eating. Cut the cucumber either into slices or cubes as per your taste. The way you lay out the cucumber on a salad plate also increases your appetite.

–     Cucumber slices are a welcome addition to a salad plate that has fruits and vegetables on it. Cucumber can still be enjoyed singularly without any accompaniments.

–     Grate cucumber and put it in yogurt. Dress it up with pepper, cumin, salt and coriander and you have a wonderful cucumber raita in front of you.

Cucumber juice Recipe

The juice of a cucumber is a very good health drink. You can start your mornings with it for breakfast. There is no harmful caffeine in it, only the goodness of nature.

Ingredients:

–          Whole cucumber – 1 piece

–          Green Apple – 1 piece

–          Half of Lemon (with peel removed)

–          Cilantro leaves (handful)

Preparation Method:

–          Put all the ingredients in a juicer.

–          Let the contents blend for a few seconds in the juicer.

Transfer the juice to a serving glass and enjoy the natural taste.

Next time when you have guests over at your home, serve them with a glass of cucumber juice. And don’t forget to get a glass of your own cucumber juice every day!

Additional Reading

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283006.php

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/9-healthy-facts-about-cucumbers

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cucumber.html

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