5 Wonderful Benefits of Cucumber

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Cucumbers are a beneficial type of product for overall health and are particularly enjoyed during the summer months given their high water content. They also contain important nutrients that are essential for the human body. Cucumbers flesh is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid, while the hard outer skin is rich in fiber and a range of minerals including magnesium, molybdenum, and potassium.

What is a Cucumber?

Cucumber is a fruit from the Cucurbitaceae family. Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, it belongs to the same family as zucchini, watermelon, pumpkin, and other types of summer squash. The plant where cucumber grows is a creeping vine that develops these cylindrical, edible fruits throughout the year. Different varieties of cucumber are grown in different regions of the world. Cucumbers, typically eaten fresh, are called slicing cucumbers. Gherkin cucumbers are specially produced to make pickles (also known as pickled cucumbers). These are much smaller in size than the slicing ones. Slicing cucumbers are available throughout the year, but they are at their best between May and July.

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About Cucumber

Cucumbers originated in India almost 10,000 years ago, but are now cultivated in many countries. Different varieties of cucumbers are traded in the international market and you will find them in abundance all year long. In the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the cucumber was very popular, and its uses were not limited to just being food. It was also praised for its beneficial effects on the skin. Louis XIV cherished cucumbers greatly and the process of cultivating them in greenhouses was invented during his time to make sure he was able to have a steady supply of the enjoyable fruit during any season. The American colonists also took this variety of crunchy and healthy squash to the United States. It is still unknown when cucumbers began to be used for pickling, but researchers have speculated that the gherkin variety of cucumber was developed from a native African plant. Spain was one of the countries, during ancient times, that started pickling cucumbers since Roman emperors imported them from this Mediterranean country.

Fresh whole and sliced cucumber on a chopping board

Finely chopped cucumbers Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Features and Varieties of Cucumbers

You are probably familiar with the phrase “cool as a cucumber”, which speaks directly to the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten. These fruits are grown mainly to be eaten fresh, and in India, you will often find sliced cucumbers being sold on sunny afternoons. They are usually cylindrical and vary in length from about six to nine inches. However, the size of cucumbers varies according to a variety of cultivating factors as well. The skin of the cucumbers can vary in color from green to white, and sometimes it may be smooth or ridged depending on the variety. Inside the cucumber skin, you will find 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 also grown in greenhouses; they are seedless with thinner skin and a longer length, usually between 12 and 20 inches. Often known as “burpless”, this variety of cucumber is bought by a majority, since it is easier to digest than the other kinds of cucumbers.

Nutrition Facts

Cucumber, with peel, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]95.23
Energy [kcal]15
Energy [kJ]65
Protein [g]0.65
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.11
Ash [g]0.38
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.63
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.67
Sucrose [g]0.03
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.76
Fructose [g]0.87
Maltose [g]0.01
Starch [g]0.83
Calcium, Ca [mg]16
Iron, Fe [mg]0.28
Magnesium, Mg [mg]13
Phosphorus, P [mg]24
Potassium, K [mg]147
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.2
Copper, Cu [mg]0.04
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.08
Selenium, Se [µg]0.3
Fluoride, F [µg]1.3
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]2.8
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.1
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.26
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]7
Folate, food [µg]7
Folate, DFE [µg]7
Choline, total [mg]6
Betaine [mg]0.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]5
Carotene, beta [µg]45
Carotene, alpha [µg]11
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]26
Vitamin A, IU [IU]105
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]23
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.03
Tocopherol, beta [mg]0.01
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.03
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.04
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]16.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.04
14:0 [g]0.01
16:0 [g]0.03
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.03
18:2 [g]0.03
18:3 [g]0.01
Phytosterols [mg]14
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.02
Isoleucine [g]0.02
Leucine [g]0.03
Lysine [g]0.03
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0
Phenylalanine [g]0.02
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.02
Arginine [g]0.04
Histidine [g]0.01
Alanine [g]0.02
Aspartic acid [g]0.04
Glutamic acid [g]0.2
Glycine [g]0.02
Proline [g]0.02
Serine [g]0.02
Sources include : USDA

Nutrition Facts

Cucumbers are rich in various nutrients, vitamins, minerals, energy, and water. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, cucumbers are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They also provide small amounts of iron, sodium, and B-vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-6).

Health Benefits of Cucumbers

While the health benefits of cucumber are not widely known in many cultures. The taste of fresh cucumber is somewhat bland in comparison with other squashes, the thirst-quenching and the cooling qualities of this squash are truly refreshing. It’s also important to remember that proper seasoning of cucumbers with herbs and spices can make it a great addition to many meals and snacks. Cucumber benefits are many, and range from preventing acidity to keeping the skin well-toned.

Enhances Skin Care

Cucumber is rich in silica, which is an essential component that aids in developing strong and healthy connective tissues in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bones. Doctors often recommend cucumber juice because of the silica content for healthier and brighter skin. Additionally, research in the journal Nutrition Review highlights the importance of fluids and hydration for skin health. Cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating. Ascorbic and caffeic acid are the two vital compounds in cucumbers that help prevent water loss from the body. The extract of cucumbers is often used topically for treating various types of skin ailments like sunburn and under-eye swelling. They may also be recommended to assist in the treatment of other skin ailments like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. These are some of the reasons why cucumbers are applied topically for various skin problems.

Prevents Constipation & Kidney Stones

Cucumbers are a perfect blend of both fiber and water. Therefore, they help to protect your body from constipation and kidney stones. Regularly enjoying a cucumber rich salad is a great way to increase fiber intake. Cucumber is also a good source of vitamin C, silica, potassium, and magnesium; all of which have their health benefits. Cucumber skin contains high levels of vitamin A, so you will gain more of this nutrient if you eat the entire thing without removing the skin.

Health benefits of cucumber infographic

Cucumbers give a fresh taste to tuna fish or chicken salad preparations.

Controls Blood Pressure

The studies done at DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was developed based upon research from the United States National Institute of Health as a method to help lower blood pressure. It found that consuming foods high in magnesium, potassium, and fiber were key. Those eating a diet rich in these complexes, along with the other foods like seafood, low-fat dairy items, lean meat, and poultry, saw their blood pressure drop. Cucumber, therefore, contributes to healthy regulation of blood pressure and contributes to the proper structure of connective tissues in our body, including those in the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.

Manages Diabetes

study published in the journal Bioimpacts in 2016 sheds light on the anti-hyperglycemic effect of cucumber. Cucumbers have been used for assistance with glucose control in people with diabetes. They possess a hormone required by the beta cells during insulin production. The presence of carbohydrates and their impact on the body is measured by the glycemic index (GI). Glycemic Index measures how carbohydrates contribute to raising glucose (or blood sugar) levels. Every food item contains essential nutrients in different percentages. The glycemic index (GI) of cucumbers is zero, meaning that it is a good choice for diabetic patients and, thus, can help keep the glucose level in check. Nowadays, most commercial stores have cucumber supplements as spiny sea cucumber extract powder, thought to be effective in combating the effects of diabetes.

Provides Antioxidant Power

Cucumbers can often act as antioxidants when consumed along with processed foods and high sugar foods. As per a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, month-long consumption of cucumber powder shows improvement in the body’s antioxidant activities.

Other Benefits

Cucumbers are low in acidity, meaning they can be tolerated by those with gastric sensitivities. Cucumbers also help normalize body temperature during summer given their high water content. Cucumber juice is a diuretic, so it may contribute to decreasing the likelihood of developing can prevent kidney stones too.

Cucumber FAQs

How to buy cucumbers?

Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, so aim to select the ones which are displayed in the refrigerated cases in the stores. Squeeze them for firmness (they should be) and check that the color is a bright medium to dark green. Avoid the yellow, puffy cucumbers that have water-soaked areas or wrinkled tips. You will find fewer seeds in the thinner cucumbers.

How to store cucumbers?

Storing cucumbers in the refrigerator will help retain their freshness for a longer time. If the entire fruit 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 dry out. Try to eat cucumbers within one or two days of buying them or else they will become limp, especially if kept for more than a week.

How to cut and eat cucumbers?

Cucumbers can be cut into various shapes and sizes; they can be sliced, diced or cut into sticks. Cucumber seeds are edible and nutritious, but some people prefer not to eat them. Those that wish to avoid the seeds, can cut cucumbers lengthwise, and use the tip of a spoon to gently scoop the seeds. Cucumbers are commonly used in several recipes. You can use half-inch thick cucumber slices and serve them with chopped vegetable salads. Cut cucumbers into a dice shape, mix them with sugar snap peas, mint leaves, and pour rice wine vinaigrette into the mixture. You can also make an excellent purée with cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. Add salt and pepper for some extra flavor. Cucumbers give a fresh taste to tuna fish or chicken salad preparations. They can be eaten alone in their sliced form or with sprinkled salt and pepper. No matter how you eat cucumbers, you are sure to get a whole lot of nutrition from these truly “cool” foods.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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