Although commonly perceived as a vegetable, cucumbers are in fact a fruit. They are categorised in the same Cucurbitaceae plant family as watermelon, pumpkin and squash. Similar to watermelon, cucumbers are high in water content, making up a 95 percent content majority. This means consuming them on a hot and humid day can keep your body effectively hydrated.
However, that is not the only reason for you to add these refreshing green bites to your diet. Apart from its hydrating values, cucumbers are loaded with vitamin B, C and K, as well as magnesium, copper and manganese, making them an ideal food source in preventing nutritional deficiencies that are prevalent in a typical Asian diet. They are also high in soluble fibre, rendering them as an effective aid for your weight loss goals.
5 Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Let’s dive down and take a closer look at some of the health benefits you can reap by incorporating cucumbers in your meals:
1. High in Antioxidants
Cucumbers contain a good amount of antioxidants that are essential for a healthy body. Antioxidants are molecules that prevent oxidation — a chemical reaction that produces extremely reactive atoms with unpaired electrons known as free radicals. The growth and gradual build-up of these destructive free radicals may lead to several types of chronic illnesses. In fact, numerous studies have linked oxidative stress instigated by free radicals to cancer, as well as lung, heart and autoimmune disease. Fruits and vegetables that are especially packed with beneficial antioxidants, such as cucumbers, can minimise the risk of these conditions. Moreover, one particular study that sought to examine the antioxidant properties of cucumbers reported that cucumbers also contain tannins and flavonoids. These two compounds are known to be highly effective at deterring harmful free radicals from causing further damage to your body.
2. Promotes Hydration
With a significant 60 percent of the human adult body made up of fluids, water is tremendously crucial for your body’s overall function. Water is needed for numerous body processes, including the transportation of nutrients and waste products, as well as temperature regulation of the body. As such, proper hydration can have a huge impact on basically everything, from physical performance to cognitive health and even metabolism. While it is true that you can fulfil the majority of your water requirements by drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, others may supplement and acquire as much as 40 percent of their total daily water intake from food. In a study involving 450 adults, it was reported that an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables directly led to an improved hydration status of the subjects. As cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, consuming them regularly promotes hydration and offers a valuable alternative to ensure that you meet daily fluid requirements.
3. Aids in Weight Loss
Believe or not, cucumbers possess the ability to help you zap those kilos in more ways than one. Firstly, they are low in calories, with an entire 300-gram cucumber containing a mere 45 calories. This means that you can indulge yourselves with as many cucumbers as you desire without having to worry about packing on the extra calories, which may tip your weight over on the weighing scale. Apart from adding flavour and freshness to your sandwiches and salads, try utilising them as an alternative for higher calorie condiments. Cucumbers also contain soluble fibres that dissolve into a gel-like substance in your gut and essential slows down your digestion. This reaction helps to keep your stomach feeling satisfied for a longer period of time and prevent you from experiencing the occasional cravings or hunger pangs. Additionally, the soaring water content of cucumbers also lends a helping hand in your goal towards weight loss. Several comprehensive studies have consistently proven that consuming foods with low calorie and high water contents often lead to a considerable decrease in body weight.
4. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Cucumbers contain potassium, a mineral that is often associated with lower blood pressure levels. An appropriate balance of potassium both inside and outside your bodily cells is vital for your organs to function at optimum levels. Potassium plays an important role in your body, which includes interacting with sodium to better regulate muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission and heart function.
5. Improves Digestive Health
Dehydration is a major risk factor for several health conditions including constipation. Lack of fluids in your body may alter your water balance and cause the passage of stool to be problematic. Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements required for healthy digestion — fibre and water. The skin of cucumbers contains insoluble fibre, which effectively increases the bulk of your stool. Along with its high water content, this helps food to be channelled through your digestive tract swiftly for quicker digestion and healthy defaecation.
The Bottom Line
Mild with a distinctly refreshing and crisp flavour, cucumbers are relatively easy to add to your diet and are normally enjoyed fresh or pickled in a variety of dishes, salads and sandwiches. If you are looking to add fruits or vegetables to your meals that will provide you with more nutrients but lower calories, cucumbers make a great choice. Besides, they are widely used in conventional diets and beauty regimens all over the world ultimately point to one thing — cucumbers are indeed good for your health.