Contributed by: Carol Kline
I’ve been reading a lot about the surprising health benefits of cucumbers. Not only are cucumbers great in salads, but sliced and eaten as a substitute for chips, this cool, crisp vegetable is great for dipping in hummus or any yogurt-based dip! Not to mention they are relatively CHEAP! Here are some of the healthy benefits of cucumbers:
- Help Reduce Inflammation – Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that may appear to play an important role in brain health.
- Reduce Risk of Cancer – Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), which may help lower the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
- Contain Antioxidants – Cucumbers contain vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin (an antioxidant that many believe prevents histamine release, making it a natural antihistamine), apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol (kaempferol may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease).
- Help Promote Fresh Breath – Did you know that placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria? Eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath, according to the principles of Ayurveda.
- Manage Stress – Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help lower the feelings of anxiety and soften some of the adverse effects of stress.
- Heart Health – Cucumbers contain potassium, which is known to be associated with lower blood pressure levels. A better balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function correctly. As an electrolyte, potassium is a positive-charged ion that must maintain a certain concentration (about 30 times higher inside than outside your cells) in order to carry out its functions, which includes interacting with sodium to help control nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Cucumbers are very low in calories, yet they make a filling snack (one cup of sliced cucumber contains just 16 calories). The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves into a gel-like texture in your gut, aiding in slowing down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber-rich foods may help with weight control.
- Supports digestive health – Cucumbers are rich in water and fiber. Cucumber skins contain insoluble fiber, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.
Why you should choose organic…..This is one instance that paying extra for organic is worth it. The coating that is used on non-organic cucumbers is supposed to be food grade and safe, but different ones are used. The coating often contains carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree), beeswax. petroleum-based waxes, and shellac (from the lac beetle). The purpose of the coating is to protect from the handling until it gets to your grocery cart.
References: whfoods.com, naturalnews.com, and greenliving.com