cucumbers

5 Heatlh Benefits of Cucumbers

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Cucumbers are a salad staple that is familiar to everyone.  Long, dark green cucumbers are found in the produce section of every grocery store.  But did you know that cucumbers come in a wide variety of colors and shapes?  There are some types of cucumber that are white, yellow, or orange; and they can have different shapes and sizes – some cucumbers are even short and round, rather than long and thin.

The cucumber belongs to the botanical plant family of curcubitaceae, which also includes melons and squashes.  It’s mild flavor and high water content makes it perfect for adding to salads, smoothies, and juices.  Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth is also known to help get rid of bacteria which cause unpleasant odors or “bad breath.”  When you’re slicing up your next cucumber, you should realize that this mild fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) has a wide variety of nutritional benefits for you and your family!  Read on for more information about what cucumbers can do for you.

 

Help with Weight Loss
Cucumbers are extremely low in calories, yet are a good source of fiber which helps to slow down the digestive process.  One cup of cucumber slices will cost you only 16 calories, yet the soluble fiber will keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals.  The high water content of cucumbers also give them cooling and hydrating properties – and it is important to stay hydrated when trying to lose weight.

 

Support Digestion
The insoluble fiber in cucumber skins helps to create bulk in stools and move food more efficiently through the GI tract for elimination.  Cucumbers are also have a high water content, and will provide the same digestive benefits as drinking water, such as alleviating symptoms of acid reflux.

Cucumber Health Benefit - Hydration
Cardiovascular Health
Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, which is a mineral and electrolyte that affects blood pressure in the body.  Potassium is essential for the healthy function of cells in your body, and affects nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and cardiovascular function.  One cup of cucumber slices contains about 150mg of potassium.  Cucumbers are also a source of vitamin K which is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease because vitamin K deficiency may increase calcification in blood vessels.  The association between vitamin K and calcium build up in blood vessels is still being researched, but including cucumbers in your diet now can only help your health in the long run.  There is approximately 8.5mcg of vitamin K (or 11% of your daily recommended intake) in a cup of sliced cucumber.

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Fight Cancer
Cucumbers contain compounds called lignans, which are found in plants and are known to be beneficial to your health.  Cucumbers contain three specific lignans (lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol) that have been associated with a decreased risk of estrogen-related cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.  They are also a source of cucurbitacins, which have been found to have very strong effects against cancer through a number of different mechanisms of action, including the blockage of different cell signaling pathways that are necessary for cancer cell survival.  New research studies suggest that cucurbitacins work well with the clinically approved chemotherapy used to treat cancer.

 

 

Scavenge Free Radicals and Prevent Inflammation
Fresh, raw cucumbers are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  To date there has only been research done on animals to test this theory.  But the test results have consistently shown that compounds in cucumbers improve the antioxidant status of subjects, scavenge harmful free radicals, and stop pro-inflammatory enzymes.  Cucumbers are also a source of commonly known antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and manganese. There is a flavonol called fisetin found in cucumbers which has anti-inflammatory effects in the body and in the brain.  It appears that fisetin may help to improve memory and prevent the progressive memory loss and cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease in mice.
Chopped Cucumbers
Sources:Cai, Yuee, Et Al. “Cucurbitacins: A Systematic Review of the Phytochemistry and Anticancer Activity.” The American Journal of Chinese Medicine Am. J. Chin. Med. 43.07 (2015): 1331-350. Web.“Cucumbers.” Cucumbers. The George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2016. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42&gt;.

Higdon, Jane, PhD. “Micronutrient Information Center.” Vitamin K. Linus Pauling Institute, 2000. Web. 05 Jan. 2016.

Mercola, Joseph, MD. “9 Amazing Health Benefits of Cucumbers.”Mercola.com. Mercola.com, 23 Aug. 2014. Web. 05 Jan. 2016.

“Nutrition Facts.” And Analysis for Cucumber, with Peel, Raw. Conde Nast, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2016. <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2439/2&gt;.

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