HEALTH BENEFITS OF CUCUMBERS
Hardly there will be anyone, who doesn’t like the cool and refreshing cucumbers on a hot summer day or search for a fresh salad just after a heavy spicy meal. Even in India cucumber raita (mixed with yogurt) is very popular. There are a lot of health benefits of cucumbers.
It is not only refreshing and tasty but the long-listed health benefits of cucumbers, make it a superfood.
History of cucumber:
The biological name of cucumber is ‘Cucumis sativus’. It comes under the gourd family. The origin of cucumber is in India. Later it spread to Greece, Italy, and China from India.
Varieties of cucumber:
Cucumbers can be classified under three main categories based on their cultivation. i.e. Slicing cucumbers, pickling cucumbers and burpless.
- Slicing cucumbers are generally longer and delicate skin. They can be up to 12 inches or longer. Slicing cucumbers are eaten fresh. It is best for making salads.
- Pickling cucumbers are generally smaller in size. They can grow to about 3 to 7 inches long. Pickling cucumbers skins are thicker in comparison to slicing cucumbers. Normally they come in irregular shapes. The pickling cucumbers have bumpy skin with black and white dotted spines.
- Burpless cucumbers are also called as seedless cucumber or European cucumber. Burpless cucumbers are sweeter than other varieties of cucumbers and have a thinner skin than other varieties.
Other commercially sold cucumber varieties:
- Apple cucumbers of New Zealand round-shaped and short in size. These cucumbers are eaten raw and with skin.
- Dosakai cucumbers are mainly seen in south Indian parts. They are yellow and round shaped. Normally, dosakai cucumbers are used in sambar, daal, aavakaya (Indian pickle) and chutney. It is also used in preparing Dosa.
- Kekiri cucumbers are found in Srilanka. It is relatively hard than other varieties. These cucumbers become orange colored after getting matured. It is generally used for making curry with other spices.
Nutritional values found in cucumbers:
- Cucumbers contain plenty of water. Nearly 95% of a cucumber is water. It helps in keeping us hydrated.
- Cucumbers are low in calories. One-half cup of cucumber provides us only 8 calories.
- Cucumbers are rich in vitamin K, which is very much useful in the clotting of blood and maintain bone health.
- Cucumbers contain several plant chemicals and phytonutrients lignans, such as lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. These lignans are believed to have anti-cancer properties and can prevent osteoporosis too.
- Cucumbers are rich in vitamin A. vitamin A helps us in good vision and a strong immune system.
- Cucumbers are also an excellent source for other important vitamins and minerals like Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B6, etc.
Health benefits of cucumbers:
There are a lot of health benefits of cucumbers. Some of those are given below:
Cucumbers keep us hydrated:
Cucumbers contain 95% of water. Hence, it can help prevent us from dehydration. It also contains electrolytes, which can be very much useful during summer. As it is a rich source of water, cucumbers protect us from acidity, constipation and kidney stones.
Cucumbers help in digestion:
Cucumbers are rich in water and fiber. Water and fiber are required for proper digestion. Again fibers also help us in getting relief from constipation.
Cucumbers are good for our skin-care:
Cucumbers are a healthy source of Silica. Silica helps in developing strong connective tissues in our muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Due to this feature, doctors prescribe consumption of cucumbers for developing and maintain healthy and bright skin. As a rich source of water, cucumbers also keep our skin hydrated.
Sliced cucumbers can protect us from sunburns and puffiness under the eyes.
Cucumbers help us fight bad breath:
When we place a slice of cucumber in our mouth, it helps us in killing bacteria from our mouth. Thus, cucumbers can prevent bad breath. Cucumbers also help in releasing the heat from the stomach, which is the main cause of bad breath from our mouth.
Cucumbers contain anti-cancer properties:
Phytonutrients lignans are present in cucumbers. They can reduce the risk of various cancers from our body like Breast cancer, Uterine cancer, Prostate cancer, and Ovarian cancer, etc.
Cucumbers help in reducing the blood pressure:
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is a dietary plan promoted by the National Institute of Health, USA. The DASH diet approach prescribes to reduce sodium intake from our diet. It also suggests increasing eating of raw vegetables and fruits rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Interestingly, all these properties found in cucumbers. Hence, cucumbers can be a good choice in reducing blood pressure.
Cucumbers can assist in weight-loss:
One-cup of sliced cucumber provides only 8 calories. Even a large-sized unpeeled cucumber provides only 45 calories. Again, 95% of a cucumber is only water. Hence, it will be very much beneficial for those, who are looking for a calorie-controlled weight loss program.
Whether a cucumber is a fruit or vegetable?
It is perhaps the most interesting question. A lot of us believe cucumbers as vegetables. Similarly, it is also believed to be a fruit by many. What is the answer then?
Science defines anything that develops from a flower and contains seed as a fruit. Hence, from a botanical point of view cucumbers can be termed as fruit. In this fashion, beans, pumpkins, green peas, and even tomatoes are fruits too.
But from a culinary point of view, cucumbers can be regarded as a vegetable. Because, culinary point of view takes into account a lot of other factors like the flavor, texture and more importantly the application of a fruit or vegetable while defining them a class.
Cucumbers are widely used in our kitchen for salads, soups, curries, and pickles. Like other fruits, cucumbers are hardly used for desserts, pastries, syrups, etc. Hence cucumbers can be classified both as a fruit and a vegetable. More clearly cucumbers are fruits, which are used as vegetables.
AUTHOR: SRIBATSA PATTANAYAK