Cucumbers are among the most widely cultivated vegetables in the world and they are used in many different cuisines around the world as well. But cucumbers don't always get the attention they deserve, especially when it comes to their health benefits. Here are 10 reasons why cucumbers are good for you.
While most people might not think so, cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals, all of which are vital to human health. They contain vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B5, magnesium, manganese and potassium. These vitamins and minerals help keep the body in balance and feeling great. Not bad for a cooling, low calorie member of the melon family.
In addition to the traditional antioxidants that people think of such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese, cucumbers also contain a number of beneficial antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, particularly quercetin, apigenin, luteolin and kaemferol. And it's well documented how good antioxidants are for the body. Studies have shown that the beneficial compounds in cucumbers increase the overall antioxidant activity in the body.
Inflammation plays a role in many chronic health conditions. Cucumbers have been shown to effectively reduce inflammation in the body by inhibiting inflammatory enzymes in the body such as the COX-2 enzyme. It also prevents the overproduction of nitric oxide in the body that increases inflammation. Lowering inflammation in the body can aid conditions from asthma to heart disease and many more.
Though the research into the anti-cancer properties of cucumbers is still in its infancy, there are some promising studies that suggest some of the compounds in cucumbers are effective at reducing the risk of cancer. One group of compounds called cucurbitacins are being studied in the hopes of finding new cancer treatments, while another group of phytonutrients called lignans, have been shown to reduce estrogen-dependent cancers such as breast and other gynecological cancers.
[Related: Health Benefits Of Phytonutrients]
Low Calorie Snack
For all the nutritional benefits packed into cucumbers, they are very low in calories. One cup of cucumbers only contains 15 calories, but is rich in vitamin K, vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. Cucumbers also contain quite a bit of water as well, which can help stave off dehydration. In fact, cucumbers are used in several cultures by hunters and travelers as a nutrient dense snack that also prevents dehydration.
While eating cucumbers is a great way to get their health benefits, there are also other ways in which cucumbers are good for us. Cucumbers are great for conditioning damaged hair. Simply puree one quarter of a cucumber and blend with an egg and a tablespoon of olive oil. Leave it in for at least 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. For best results, this treatment should be done at least once a month.
Soothes Irritated Skin
Cucumber is useful for treating a variety of skin irritations because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The same properties that make cucumbers popular for treating eye bags also make it useful for treating sunburns, skin irritations and even cellulite. Pureed cucumber can be blended with other ingredients such as witch hazel, avocado or yogurt to treat, clean and refresh a variety of skin conditions from acne to wrinkles.
Cucumbers have a number of cleaning uses around the house. They are effective at shining metal surfaces like sinks and faucets, they can keep windows and mirrors from fogging up in steamy bathrooms, and even lubricate squeaky hinges, all without the use of harsh chemicals. Got kids? The outside of the cucumber is effective at removing marks like pencil drawings and crayon stick figures from walls with ease. They can also be sued for shining shoes and a variety of other surfaces as well.
All Natural Breath Freshener
If halitosis is a problem, try some cucumber slices. There are chemical compounds in cucumber that will kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath. Simply place a thin slice of cucumber in your mouth and hold it against the roof of your mouth for a few minutes before chewing it. It will freshen your breath and provide a cooling sensation.
[Related: 10 Quick Tips For Curing Bad Breath]
Drug-Free Headache Remedy
Because cucumbers contain beneficial vitamins and quite a bit of water, they can be useful in relieving headaches, particularly those that are caused by hangovers since hangover headaches are caused primarily by dehydration and lost nutrients. Because cucumbers contain carbohydrates, electrolytes and b vitamins, eating a cucumber before bed after a night of drinking can help bring the body back into balance and avoid a headache.
People often claim that the burping associated with cucumbers is the reason that they avoid them, but the seeds of the cucumber are actually what cause the burps. There is a variety of cucumber called English, or seedless, cucumber that doesn't seem to cause burping, or the seeds can simply be scraped out of the cucumber. Now there is no excuse for avoiding cucumbers, and with all the ways that cucumbers are good for people, why would anyone want to?