Cucumbers have a mild, refreshing taste and a high water content. They can help relieve dehydration and are pleasant to eat in hot weather. People eat cucumber as a savory food, but it is a fruit. It also features in some beauty products.
The cucumber is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Other members of the family include squash and different kinds of melon, including bitter melon. Cucumbers provide various nutrients but are low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
This article looks at the nutritional content of cucumber, its possible health benefits, tips for eating or using cucumber, and any potential health risks.
The nutritional profile of cucumbers may give them a number of health benefits.
Cucumbers consist mostly of water, and they also contain important electrolytes. They can help prevent dehydration in hot weather or after a workout.
For people who do not enjoy drinking water, adding cucumber and mint can make it more attractive.
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2) Bone health
Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, and it may support bone health.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an intake of:
- 90 mcg a day for females aged 19 years and over
- 120 mcg for males of the same age
Vitamin K helps improve calcium absorption. Together, these nutrients can contribute to good bone health.
Vitamin D is also important for bone health.
As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, cucumbers contain high levels of bitter-tasting nutrients known as cucurbitacin.
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4) Cardiovascular health
The American Heart Association (AHA) note that fiber can help manage cholesterol and prevent related cardiovascular problems.
A 142-g cup of unpeeled cucumber also provides 193 mg of potassium and 17 mg of magnesium. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day and 310–410 mg of magnesium, depending on sex and age.
One theory is that the cucurbitacins in cucumber help regulate insulin release and the metabolism of hepatic glycogen, a key hormone in the processing of blood sugar.
Cucumbers score low score on the glycemic index (GI). This means they provide essential nutrients without adding carbohydrates that can increase blood glucose.
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Experts believe inflammation may help trigger the development of various health conditions, such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- autoimmune conditions
7. Skin care
Some research has suggested that cucumber’s nutrients may provide benefits for skin health.
Applying sliced cucumber directly to the skin can help cool and soothe the skin and reduce swelling and irritation. It can alleviate sunburn. Placed on the eyes, they can help decrease morning puffiness.
Other cucumber beauty tips include:
Toner: Blend and sieve cucumber to collect the juice for a natural toner. Leave on the skin for 30 minutes, then rinse. Cucumber may have astringent properties, and it may help clear the pores.
Face pack: Mix equal amounts of cucumber juice and yogurt to make a face pack that helps reduce dry skin and blackheads.
Cucumber is safe for most people to use on the skin. People should start by applying a small amount. If they do not experience an adverse reaction, it is probably safe to use.
Learn more here about skin-friendly foods.
According to the USDA, one 142-g cup of unpared, raw, chopped cucumber contains the following nutrients:
- water: 137 g
- calories: 17
- protein: 0.8 g
- fat: 0.2 g
- carbohydrate: 3.1 g, including 2.0 g of sugar
- fiber: 1.0 g
- calcium: 19.9 g
- iron: 0.3 mg
- magnesium: 17 mg
- phosphorus: 29.8 mg
- potassium: 193 mg
- sodium: 2.8 mg
- vitamin C: 4.5 mg
- folate: 19.9 mcg
- beta carotene: 44 mcg
- lutein + zeaxanthin 22.7 mcg
- vitamin K: 10.2 mcg
Cucumber also contains a range of B vitamins, vitamin A, and antioxidants, including a type known as lignans.
Antioxidants help remove substances from the body known as free radicals. Some free radicals come from natural bodily processes, and some come from outside pressures, such as pollution. If too many collect in the body, they can lead to cell damage and various types of disease.
Studies have suggested that the lignans in cucumber and other foods may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer.