Look and Feel Better with Cucumber, 9 Ways
When summer arrives, the phrase “cool as a cucumber” often comes to mind, which prompts me to think about all the ways this common vegetable can help you look and feel better. Can you name 9 ways cucumbers can improve your health?
What’s good about cucumbers?
This discussion of cucumbers focuses on the common slicing cucumber, Cucumis sativus, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Two other common varieties are burpless and pickling cucumbers. Feel free to enjoy them all this summer and year round.
- Water source. Among vegetables, cucumbers have one of the highest percentages of water content: 95 percent. That’s a feature that makes cucumbers an excellent veggie to include as part of your summertime menu.
- Diabetes fighting potential. When choosing cucumbers, be sure to choose organic and eat the veggie with the skin (peel). Research in mice suggests that cucumber peels contain factors that may fight diabetes and have a positive impact on lipid levels, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Clear toxins. A recent article in Fitoterapia explained the therapeutic potential of cucumbers, among which is its ability to help eliminate toxins from the body. The authors noted that “cucumber has a cleansing action within the body by removing accumulated pockets of old waste materials and chemical toxins.”
- Soothe the skin. You can use cucumber slices to relieve the pain and irritation associated with sunburn and skin rashes. Gently rub the slices on the affected areas.
- Fight bad breath. Cucumbers contain phytochemicals that can battle bad breath. Take a cucumber slice and hold it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds. Need a quick breath freshener? Thoroughly chew a few slices of cucumber, with the skin, for a quick breath fix.
- Boost hair growth. Cucumbers are a good source of manganese, potassium, silica, and sulfur, all of which are important elements, but the silica is especially helpful for hair growth. Enjoy a low-calorie, hair-enhancing juice with cucumber every day. Just combine ½ cucumber (with peel if organic), 4 carrots, and 1 small apple. Juice and enjoy!
- Ease hangovers. After a night of partying, eat half a cucumber before you climb into bed. The water content along with the electrolytes and B vitamins can help take some of the edge off of a hangover in the morning.
- Avoid constipation. If you tend to have constipation, include a cucumber (organic, with skin) in your diet every day. The skin and seeds are especially helpful in relieving constipation.
- Feel full. Cucumbers are a great diet food because they help you feel full (because of their water and fiber content) and have few calories—one large (8”) cucumber with peel has only 45 calories.
Stay cool, be cool, and enjoy cucumbers in a wide variety of ways this summer and every time of the year.
Dixit Y, Kar A. Protective role of three vegetable peels in alloxan induced diabetes mellitus in male mice. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 2010 Sep; 65(3): 284-89.
Mukherjee PK et al. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia 2013 Jan; 84:227-36