It is not considered a medicinal plant, but it does offer a multitude of nutritional benefits. With a very high percentage of water and vitamins, the properties of cucumber that it offers us can be at the height of many principles of medicinal herbs.
Therefore, cucumber deserves special attention to incorporate it into our gastronomy. Above all, in summer and for its water content, it is when it most feels like it, or we can introduce it into our diet through gazpacho or other creams rich in this vegetable.
The cultivation of cucumber
The properties of cucumber owe their origin to the genetic characteristics of the cucumber crop. A jungle-looking plant that likes humidity and easy disposal to water.
Its scientific name is Cucumis sativus and belongs to the family of cucurbits.
The fruits, elongated and green that everyone knows, keep a large amount of water, mineral elements and vitamins.
From here it is obtained that the properties of cucumber are related to an increase in revitalizing, moisturizing power and improvement of intestinal transit.
Of the total composition of the fruit, 97% is water. The remaining 3% has interesting contents such as mucilages, vitamins (B and C to a greater extent), carotenes, amino acids, etc.
Only in large quantities can it be indigestible for certain people, and this is due to its high cellulose content.
The cucumber consumption it has a long tradition in Mediterranean and Asian countries, such as China, Japan or South Korea.
The largest producer of both cucumber and pickle is China, which uses it as an accompaniment to protein-rich foods such as duck, pork or chicken.
Turkey is the 2nd largest producer of cucumber and, in addition, one of the largest consumers, incorporating it widely into its gastronomy (even in sweets).
For every 100 grams of cucumber ingested:
- Calories: 11.73 kcal
- Protein: 0.70 grams
- Fiber: 0.50 grams
- Fat: 0,20 grams
- Carbohydrates: 1.90 grams
- Cholesterol: 0.0 grams
As for the mineral content, we can enjoy a high load of elements such as potassium, iron, calcium and mangesium. And among the vitamins, we find interesting the contribution of vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin E (powerful antioxidant) and vitamin C.
- 8 mg calcium
- 0.15 mg iron
- 7 mg magnesium
- 12 mg phosphorus
- 76 mg potassium
- 1 mg sodium
- 1.5 mg vitamin C
- 4 mg folic acid (vitamin B)
Likewise, we found important concentrations of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and vitamin B6.
Types of cucumbers
- European cucumber: the most common, elongated type and bright green skin.
- Armenian cucumber: thinner than the European, less bright, more elongated and curved.
- Persian type cucumber: small and fatter than the European (between 10 and 12 cm in length). They are commonly known as Beit Alfa.
- Japanese cucumber: Traditional Japanese food, they are cucumbers with dark green skin, elongated fruit, sweet and crunchy.
- Lemon cucumber: of totally differentiated appearance to the rest, rounded fruit, yellow skin (similar to mini watermelons toad skin)
Properties of cucumber
Protector of the brain system
An important component of cucumber is a flavonol within the group of polyphenols known as fisetin.
Fisetin plays an important role in brain activity and mental health.
Recent scientific studies relate this polyphenol with the protection of nerve cells, reducing their normal deterioration typical of age.
This set of cucumber properties are still being studied to analyze its effect on alzheimer’s delay.
Revitalizing against fatigue
Many times the feeling of heaviness or tiredness is associated with dehydration. With cucumber, we will get a great ally.
And in the event that it is not due to dehydration, the B vitamin group have a direct effect on the brain, which does not we manage to produce on our own and that in recent years its effect on the prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s is being studied.
Cucumber contains many B vitamins, very effective in relaxing the nervous system and relieving the impact of anxiety and stress.
Cucumber smoothies with apple or cucumber water with lemon are a natural resource to relieve fatigue or tension headaches.
Improves digestive transit
Cucumber is rich in water and fiber so it helps our digestions. It also helps improve the pH of the stomach and fight reflux.
Properties of cucumber as a benefit of the cardiovascular system
The potassium, as a mineral, is indispensable for proper cardiovascular health.
We can find it in different families of legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. As far as improving cardiovascular capacity and heart health are concerned, the properties of cucumber have a lot to say.
Recently, the magazine of international prestige Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a very interesting study where it related potassium consumption (1.6 grams per day) with reduction of up to 21% of suffering stroke.
Within the foods rich in potassium, cucumber can be included in the category of medium intake (from 500 to 200 mg per serving). Specifically, this vegetable provides 80 ppm of potassium (K+) for every half cup.
Among the fruits and vegetables that contribute the most are, without a doubt, bananas (400 ppm per 1/2 cup), papaya (390 per 1/2 cup) or orange (240 ppm per glass of juice).
Therefore, the properties of cucumber are also closely related to maintaining adequate levels of potassium and controlling sodium, along with other vegetables and vegetables.
High satiating power
Its fiber and water content make one of the properties of cucumber to stand out is its satiating power.
At times of diet, providing fresh cucumber (with some salt and pepper) as an appetizer before meals reduces the subsequent intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
This can be applied in all meals or even mixed with other vegetables of equal satiating power and full of water, vitamins and minerals.
There are several studies of magnitude and great importance where they relate products with a large amount of water (like many other vegetables) and low caloric range with the weight loss.
Properties of cucumber on the skin
The vitamins A, B and C and E (and specifically the latter), have a high antioxidant power, so it is interesting to improve the elasticity and hydration of the skin and reduce the effects of sunburn, improve wound healing and have a better overall appearance.
In fact, surely the image of cucumber slices put in the eyes comes to mind, since for their water content and the refreshing power, they act as a mild anti-inflammatory to reduce bags and dark circles.
Preventive against cancer
Although the words “fight cancer” or “anticancer” are increasingly used, it is true that food is a before and after in the prevention of diseases of this type and cardiovascular diseases.
As for the cucumber consumption, not only for its antioxidant action and for the increase of fiber in our diet and reduction of fats, but because several compounds have been identified that have preventive action against the formation of different types of cancer.
The properties of cucumber as a preventive against cancer are due to compounds present in this horticultural as the lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol.
These names so complicated to pronounce (especially the last one) are lignans (antioxidant phytoestrogens) that have been studied for their action against the development of breast, ovarian, prostate or uterine cancer, among others.
Prevents diseases of bone degeneration
A delay in osteoporosis and other bone mass loss diseases has been associated with the intake of foods with high potassium concentrations.
Among the properties of cucumber highlights its high content of this mineral, so that prevents bone fracture
Improves renal activity
For people with fluid retention or kidney problems, cucumber, due to its high water content, can replace and complement diets high in liquids.
Both its minerals (such as silicon, iron or sulfur) and vitamins, favor the evacuation of liquids and make the kidney work, healthily.
It is part of the detox shakes to eliminate toxins
In the smoothies and detox shakes that are becoming so fashionable lately, an ingredient that is part of many of them is cucumber.
Both for its high content of water, vitamins, minerals and fiber, it combines very well with fruits that provide flavor, such as apple or kiwi, and leafy vegetables also rich in antioxidants, such as lettuce or spinach.
Properties of cucumber as a moisturizer
A fact already mentioned and that we use to mention the properties of cucumber as a moisturizer is its high water content.
We are talking about an amount between 96 and 97% of the total weight. Its incorporation in salads or directly fresh satisfies a great demand for water in our body.
This helps drain toxins from our body much faster, improve digestive transit and generally hydrate the body.
Cucumber can lower blood sugar levels
Although current research has only been conducted in animals and there are still numerous studies to be conducted and tested in humans, some blood sugar-lowering activity has been demonstrated with moderate consumption of cucumber.
As for the properties of cucumber against diabetes, it is important to note that cucumber peel houses numerous antioxidant and mineral groups, so it is recommended to consume it fresh whenever possible.
How to take advantage of the properties of cucumber
To hydrate and refresh ourselves with cucumber, which should be common in our diet rich in vegetables, we discuss some dishes and ideas to increase its content in our diet.
Take advantage of the properties of cucumber with the usual gazpacho
For each liter of gazpacho prepared, it contains between 1/2 and 1 cucumber that, together with tomatoes and peppers, provide a large amount of vitamins and minerals of high nutritional power.
Cold creams and soups
The cucumber cream, very common in the summer to refresh us, contains a high amount of cucumber. To improve texture and flavor, it can be combined with any other type of vegetable, fruit or vegetable, such as avocado, for example.
Usual cucumber salad
Cucumber, due to its flavor, combines easily with all kinds of ingredients usually used in salads.
Tomatoes, lettuce, celery, tuna, egg, asparagus, etc. The cucumber, provides the base of the salad and improves the feeling of freshness and satiety in this dish so typical of the Mediterranean diet.
In which recipes and dishes do you take advantage of the properties of cucumber?