Cucumber Benefits

What Are the Health Benefits of Cucumbers?

The cucumber is an incredibly versatile vegetable that is perhaps best known for being used in the making of dill pickles, but it is also a popular ingredient in salads, salad dressings, relish, soups, stews, and ready meals. It’s even used frequently in beauty products and spa treatments. But beyond its many uses and its crisp, fresh flavor, the cucumber is also loaded with vitamins and minerals that make it a healthy addition to any diet.

What to Know About Cucumbers

The cucumber plant is a creeping vine in the Cucurbitaceae family, the same family as gourds, pumpkin, zucchini, butternut squash, and various types of melon. It is an annual plant with dark green, hairy leaves and tendrils that seek out a support structure to ideally position itself for sunlight. For this reason, cucumber plants are typically grown on trellises or other similar structures. Cucumbers grow best in warmer climates with a lot of moisture, and they do not tolerate frost at all.

Originating in India, the cucumber has been cultivated for over 3000 years, though it wasn’t widely produced in Europe until the Middle Ages. Today, the annual production of cucumbers is upwards of 91 million tonnes, with about 80% being produced in China. While there are many varieties of cukes, the three main cultivar groups are pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, and burpless cucumbers; burpless cucumbers are cultivated to have less cucurbitacin, a compound that makes cucumbers otherwise taste somewhat bitter.

Cucumber Nutrition Facts

Like celery and other veggies with high water content, cucumbers have relatively high nutritional value for so few calories. One cup of cucumber has 16 calories, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and trace amounts of fat. Both dehydrated and fresh cucumbers also provide a variety of essential nutrients:

Vitamins (%DV)

  • vitamin A (1%)
  • vitamin C (3%)
  • vitamin K (16%)
  • vitamin B6 (3%)
  • riboflavin (3%)
  • folate (2%)

Minerals (%DV)

  • calcium (2%)
  • iron (2%)
  • potassium (3%)
  • manganese (4%)
  • magnesium (4%)
  • phosphorus (3%)

Health Benefits of Eating Cucumbers

In addition to being a source of basic nutritional value, cucumbers also contain phytochemical compounds that have been associated with different health benefits. For instance, flavonoids, lignans, and beta carotene all have antioxidant properties. All over the human body, countless chemical reactions happen every day, and some of those reactions can create free radicals, which are small particles that have the potential to damage our tissues. Antioxidants essentially absorb those particles and protect the body from damage. Below are some of the health benefits connected to these and other components of cucumber:

  • Lower cholesterol: A significant portion of cucumber is water, but the remaining mass is mostly carbs in the form of dietary fiber. This soluble fiber can actually bind with cholesterol in the small intestine and cause an overall lower blood cholesterol level. Lower cholesterol means less chance of plaque buildup in the arteries and therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Cucumbers also contain silica, a mineral that seems to also reduce the risk of hardening arteries.
  • Lower blood pressure: The impact on cholesterol can also have an impact on a high blood pressure condition. But cucumbers are additionally a source of potassium, and potassium binds with sodium in the bloodstream; when sodium levels drop, the arteries relax and blood pressure is reduced. Lower blood pressure is also associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Bone health: The most abundant nutrient in cucumber is vitamin K, a vitamin that is vital in the growth and maintenance of bone. Moreover, vitamin K deficiency has been linked to the development of osteoporosis and a higher risk of bone fracture.
  • Skin health: Sliced cucumber has long been used in skincare treatments to reduce puffiness around the eyes, but cucumber is also known to be a beneficial topical treatment for the pain of sunburn. Cucumber water and pulp is also believed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in the skin. Some of these claims haven’t been exposed to much research scrutiny, but cucumbers do contain vitamins C and A; both of these vitamins are thought to promote collagen production, a key compound the body uses to maintain skin.
  • Digestive health: Cucumbers, especially when unpeeled, are a good source of dietary fiber as noted. Fiber is also beneficial for digestive health primarily because of its effect on the colon and the regulation of bowel movements. Eating a sufficient amount of dietary fiber can maintain bowel regularity and reduce the risk of symptoms like constipation and diarrhea.
  • Immune system: The range of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in cucumbers can all play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Also, the antioxidant properties of many of these compounds are believed to both reduce inflammation in the body and guard against the development of many diseases.
  • Hydration: Raw cucumber is nearly 95% water, and that makes it an excellent vegetable for meeting the body’s regular water needs. Staying hydrated is important for regulating body temperature, preventing infections, keeping joints lubricated, and a variety of other bodily functions.
  • Beneficial for weight loss: As a naturally low-calorie food, cucumbers can be a great part of any weight loss plan. The fiber content in cucumbers is also helpful for controlling blood sugar levels, a significant issue related to maintaining a healthy body weight.

Additional Concerns

As with any food, there are some circumstances where cucumbers may not be recommended as a regular part of the diet. Some people may find cucumbers hard to digest and might experience mild gastrointestinal distress from eating too much. There is also a very low chance that the vitamin K content could affect proper blood clotting. In rare cases, some people are allergic to cucumbers and may have to avoid them completely.

Dehydrated Ingredients from Silva

Cucumbers are often used in their raw state, but the familiar flavor is also commonly used as a dry ingredient addition to both savory and sweet recipes. Silva offers premium quality, air-dried cucumber in slices, powder, or any custom size you need. We are passionate about working with you to provide only the best ingredients so you can deliver excellent, delicious products to your customers. To learn more about any of our ingredients or what it’s like to work with Silva, please contact us today.