Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, cucumbers share the same botanical family, Curcubitaceae, as melons and squashes. In a technical sense, cucumbers are actually fruits, and not vegetables and are found in a large number of varieties, shapes and sizes. They are broadly divided into three basic types: slicing, pickling and burpless.
- Slicing cucumbers include all varieties that are cultivated for consumption in fresh form, are larger in size and have thicker skin.
- Pickling cucumbers include all varieties that are cultivated not for consumption in fresh form, but for processing into pickles. While pickling cucumbers can always be eaten fresh, their smaller size and generally thinner skins make them easier to ferment and preserve/jar.
- Burpless cucumbers are sweeter and have a thinner skin than other varieties of cucumber, and are reputed to be easy to digest and to have a pleasant taste. They are sometimes marketed as seedless or burpless, because the seeds and skin of other varieties of cucumbers are said to give some people gas.
In evolutionary terms, the first cucumbers were likely to have originated in India and cultivated in some parts of the Middle East. Cucumbers are mentioned in the legend of Gilgamesh—a Uruk king who lived around 2500 BC in what is now Iraq and Kuwait. It was approximately 3,300 years later when cucumber cultivation spread to parts of Europe, including France. And it was not until the time of the European colonists that cucumbers finally appeared in North America in the 1500’s.
TOP 19 REFRESHING HEALTH BENEFITS OF COOL CUCUMBER:
- Renal Care: High water content and potassium in cucumber provide diuretic properties, removing toxins and metabolic wastes from the body through urine and also helps dissolve gallstones and kidney stones.
- Insulin Promoter: Cucumber’s mineral content and manganese are very useful in the synthesis of natural insulin and contains hormones that stimulate insulin production in the pancreas.
- Dental Care: Consuming raw cucumber increase production of saliva, neutralizes the acids and alkali in the oral cavity, fights bad breath and gum diseases like pyorrhoea and weak gums.
- Stabilizes blood pressure: Cucumbers contain potassium, a heart friendly electrolyte that reduces blood pressure levels in the body and reduces heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium. Fiber and magnesium also help in blood pressure regulation.
- Treats Puffy Eyes: Caffeic and ascorbic acid in cucumber can reduce water retention to reduce puffiness, eye redness, and dark circles under the eyes. Place chilled slices of cucumber on the eyes to greatly reduce under-eye bags and revive vision capabilities.
- Hydrates: Cucumbers contain almost 95% water and most of the vitamins needed for hydration, detoxification and other body functions.
- Digestive Function: Cucumbers have therapeutic properties to relieve gastrointestinal problems such as chronic constipation, ulcers, gastritis, acidity, and even ulcers. Cucumber peel is also a very good source of dietary fiber that helps to reduce indigestion and prevents stomach related diseases by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
- Anti Cancer: Cucumber contains potent lignans- lariciresinol, secoisolariciresinol and pinoresinol that reduce the risk of brain, breast, ovarian, colon, uterine, prostate and others. When we consume these lignans, bacteria in our digestive tract latch to these lignans and convert them into enterolignans, which in turn bind on to the estrogens receptors, reducing estrogens induced diseases like cancer.
- Prevents Gout: Cucumber juice is rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C, D, folate, magnesium, and calcium, lowering uric acid levels, making it a potential solution for those with Gout.
- Stimulates Weight Loss: Cucumber boasts of 95% water, very low calories, rich fiber, no saturated fats or cholesterol helping you lose weight by offering great nutrition, detoxification and hydration.
- Lowers Blood Cholesterol: Studies have shown the effectiveness of compounds called sterols in cucumber that help lower “bad” blood cholesterol levels.
- Strengthens Joints and Muscles: Cucumbers is abundant in silica which strengthens the connective ligaments networks in the joints. Also Vitamin K helps improve bone density by promoting orthotropic activity. Calcium not only assists healthy bone structure but also maintains the body’s hormone balance.
- Skin Care: Cucumber skin has diuretic, cooling, and cleansing properties and helps heal sunburned skin, freckles, wrinkles and spots, tightens skin, banishes cellulite of thighs and gets rid of acne or pimples.
- Digestive Aid: Cucumber juicecontains an enzyme called Erepsin which aids in the digestion of protein and helps cures heartburn, acidity, gastritis, constipation, and even ulcers. Cucumber seeds are considered as a natural remedy to eliminate tape worm from intestinal tracts.
- Helps Overcome Hangovers: Sugar, Vitamin B and electrolytes in Cucumbers assist in curing hangover and headache associated with it, by replenishing the body’s nutrients, rehydrating the water balance and elimination alcohol induced toxins.
- Anti Inflammatory: Fresh cucumber extracts inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxyenase and prevent over production of nitric oxides, two of the primary factors leading to excessive inflammation. The seeds also have anti inflammatory properties which are effective in the treatment of swellings of mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
- Brain Tonic: Copper in cucumber stimulates the production of neurotransmitters, chemicals vital for neural communication and cognitive ability. It also helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neutral damage in the brain.
- Hair Care: Cucumbers contain silica, an integral compound in connective tissues of our body that helps hair growth and makes your hair stronger and shinier.
- Anti-Oxidant: Choc-a-block with host of anti oxidants like Vitamin A, C, B carotene, a carotene, zea-xanthin and lutein that boost immunity and give you more energy when you are feeling lethargic. These compounds act as scavengers against free radicals that lead to ageing and other age related diseases.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- Pesticide Residues: According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2014 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” conventionally grown cucumbers are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of cucumbers unless they are grown organically.
- Wax Coating: Cucumbers may be waxed to retain moisture and resist mold growth, bacterial disease and bruising in the shipping process. In addition, other compounds, including ethyl alcohol, milk casein, and soaps may be added to synthetic waxes for consistency, “film” formation, and improved flow of wax onto the cucumber. Individuals concerned about any of these factors would do best to purchase organically grown cucumbers.
- Gassiness: Cucumbers contain a compound called cucurbitacin, which provokes indigestion in some people, so look for the “burpless” variety if you wish to avoid these issues.
- Allergies: If you have an allergy to ragweed, cucumbers may also cause allergic reactions, like swelling or hives around your mouth, throat and tongue.