Health Benefits of Cucumber
Cucumbers are extremely beneficial to health especially during the summers as it mostly contains water and many important nutrients that are essential for human body. The flesh of cucumber is rich in vitamins A, C, and folic acid while the hard skin of cucumber is rich in fiber and a range of minerals include magnesium, molybdenum, silica, and potassium. In addition, cucumber has silica, a trace mineral contributing greatly at strengthening our connective tissues. Cucumber is known to heal many skin problems, under eye swellings and sunburn. Cucumber also contains ascorbic and caffeic acids which prevent water loss, therefore cucumber is applied topically on burns and dermatitis.
Origin of cucumber
Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, cucumbers belong to the equivalent family as zucchini, watermelon, pumpkin, and other types of summer squash. The plant of cucumber is creeping vine giving cylindrical edible fruit round the year. You will find varieties of cucumber grown in different places either to be eaten fresh or sometimes to be pickled. The cucumbers that are usually eaten fresh are called slicing cucumbers. Gherkin cucumbers are specially produced to make pickles. These are much smaller in size than slicing cucumbers. Slicing cucumbers are available throughout the year; however they are at its best from May through July. Cucumbers originated in India almost 10,000 years ago, but are now cultivated in all continents. Nowadays, different varieties of the squash are traded on the international market and you will find them in abundance all year round.
In the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, cucumbers have been very popular where its use was not limited at being just a food but also for its beneficial skin therapeutic properties. Louis XIV also cherished cucumbers greatly, and the process of cultivating cucumbers in greenhouses was invented during his time to make sure he gets a good supply of the enjoyable vegetable throughout the year. The early colonists took this variety of crunchy and healthy squash to the United States.
Features & varieties of Cucumber
As the proverb goes “cool as a cucumber" it actually compliments the squash for its soothing and cooling nature. Cucumbers are grown mainly to be eaten fresh and also to be pickled at times. The ones that are to be eaten fresh are commonly known as slicing cucumbers. In India, you will often find sliced cucumbers being sold on the street on sunny afternoons. These cucumbers are usually cylindrical in shape and vary in length from about six to nine inches. However, the size of cucumbers varies according to its cultivating factors as well.
The skin of the cucumbers varies in color also - from green to white, sometimes it may be smoothed or ridged as it depends upon the variety. Inside the real cucumber skin, you will find a very pale green flesh that is thick yet aqueous and crispy at the same time. The interior core of cucumber has numerous edible fleshy seeds. Many cucumber varieties are grown in greenhouses; they are seedless and have thinner skins and lengthwise longer, usually between 12 and 20 inches. Often known as "burpless", this variety of cucumber is bought by majority, since it is easier to digest than the other variations of cucumbers.
Health benefits of cucumber
It is still not known since when cucumbers have been used for pickling, but the researchers have speculated that the gherkin variety of cucumber was developed from a native African plant. Spain was one of the countries during the ancient times that started pickling cucumbers since Roman emperors imported them from this Mediterranean country.
The health benefits of cucumber are yet to be widespread amongst all cultures. The taste of fresh cucumber is somewhat bland in comparison to other squashes, but it’s thirst-quenching and the cooling quality of this squash is truly refreshing. Cucumbers often act as antioxidants when you consume it with barbequed and fried foods. You can also drink a glass full of cucumber, carrot or orange juices. This will not only give you its wholesome nutrient value, but it genuinely tastes good.
Cucumber benefits ranges from preventing acidity to keeping skin well-toned. Cucumber has high alkaline levels, thus regulates the body's blood pH and neutralizes acidity. The gastric patients should necessarily consume cucumber frequently. It regulates blood pressure and contributes to the proper structure of connective tissues in our body as in the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. During summers, cucumbers help to normalize body temperature. Cucumber juice is diuretic, thereby prevents kidney stones. Cucumbers also counter uric acid, thereby preventing inflammation in joints in arthritis, asthma, and gout. You will be quite surprised to know that this squash also promotes healthy hair growth and can treat skin ailments like psoriasis, eczema, acne, etc.
A bright and glowing complexion
Cucumber is rich in silica, this is the essential component that aids in keeping strong and healthy connective tissues including muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bone. Doctors often recommend cucumber juice to utilize the silica content and get a healthy, bright skin. The quality of cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating. Its known to all moisture is the best friend of a healthy skin, so why not acquire the hydration naturally. The extract of cucumbers is often used topically through medication for various types of skin ailments, including sunburn and swelling under the eyes. Ascorbic acid and caffeic acid are the two vital compounds in cucumbers that prevent water loss from the body. This is the reason why cucumbers are applied topically for varied skin problems.
Prevents constipation and keeps kidney healthy
Cucumber is a perfect blend of both fiber and water. Thus, it helps you to stay away from both constipation and kidney stones. By having cucumber juice, you can consume both fiber and water at the same time. Reports say that majority Americans prefer to have a cucumber rich salad regularly as it is a great way to increase your fiber intake. Cucumber is also a good source of vitamin C, silica, potassium and magnesium; thereby you get all the more nutrition. Cucumber has an extraordinary amount of water (about 96%) that is naturally purified, thus making the water content much better in quality to ordinary water. The cucumber skin contains a high proportion of vitamin A, thus you will gain more nutrition if consumed with the skin.
Control blood pressure levels
the studies done at DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), the people consumed foods high in magnesium, potassium, and fiber, their blood pressure came down to normal levels. The group eating a diet rich in these complexes along with the other foods on this diet like seafood, low fat dairy foods, lean meat and poultry checked their blood pressure to have fallen by 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic).
Cucumber has been useful for diabetic patients since ages. Cucumber possesses a hormone required by the beta cells during the insulin production. The Glycemic Index of cucumber is found to be zero. The existence of the nutrient carbohydrate and its result on the body is measured by the quantity Glycemic Index. Every food item contains essential nutrients in different percentages. The carbohydrates contribute in raising the glucose level, however the carbohydrates present in the cucumber can be easily digested by diabetic patients. Thus, consumption of cucumber keeps the glucose level in check. Nowadays most of the commercial stores have the cucumber supplements as spiny sea cucumber extract powder, which is very effective in combating diabetes.
Keeps body healthy in long run
Cucumber has excellent cleaning properties, thereby removing amassed waste and toxins from our body. In many cases cucumber is been seen as effective treatment for arthritis since it removes uric acid. Aiding in urine secretion, cucumber has proved to be a natural diuretic. Cucumber is very good for urinary bladder, kidney, liver and pancreatic functions. Cucumber juice along with carrot juice is extremely effective for rheumatic conditions caused by excessive uric acid in the body. It is good for digestion especially proteins and controls blood pressure. It is good for controlling Diabetes mellitus also. Cucumber juice on regular basis also helps in curing gout and eczema. If you are having lung and stomach problems, ensure having cucumber in your diet. It also promotes muscle flexibility. The magnesium content of cucumber ensures proper blood circulation and relaxed nerves. Since cucumber is rich in minerals, it prevents splitting of nails of the fingers and toes.
How to buy & store cucumbers
Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, thus try to select the ones which are displayed in the refrigerated cases in the market. Look for the firm ones and check if the color is bright medium to dark green. Avoid the yellow, puffy cucumbers that have sunken water-soaked areas or if the tips are wrinkled. You will find less seeds in the thinner cucumbers. Earlier many people used to purchase cucumbers that have a consumed without the wax and any artificial chemicals trapped in it.
If you store the cucumbers in the refrigerator, it will retain its freshness for a longer time. If the entire cucumber is not used in one meal, then wrap the remainder tightly in plastic or place it in a closed container so that it does not get dried. Try to eat cucumbers within one or two days, or else they get limp if kept for more than week.
Cucumbers can be cut into various shapes and sizes, sliced, diced or cut into sticks. The cucumber seeds are edible and very nutritious; however some people prefer not to eat them. You can cut the cucumber lengthwise and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop the seeds accordingly. Cucumbers can be used in a number of recipes. You can use half-inch thick cucumber slices and serve with chopped vegetable salads. Cut the cucumber into dice shape, mix them with sugar snap peas, mint leaves and then pour into rice wine vinaigrette. You can make excellent purée with cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions. Finally just add salt and pepper to taste. Cucumber gives a fresh taste to tuna fish or chicken salad preparations. Cucumbers can be eaten just in its sliced form as well with a sprinkle of salt or pepper. You are sure to get the ultimate nutrition from this really “cool” vegetable.