Thanks to their fresh, juicy flavor, cucumber slices are a staple in salads and can also be enjoyed as a refreshing snack. In addition, although cucumbers don’t always get the attention they deserve, they are exceptionally good for your body. Here are some of the most exciting health benefits they provide.
1. They may cut cancer risk
Cucumbers contain three different lignans, which are types of polyphenols. Polyphenols have repeatedly been shown to reduce the consumer’s likelihood of developing cancers in the uterus, ovaries, breast and prostate. As a bonus, cucumbers provide you with compounds called cucurbitacins, which are at the centre of interesting new studies on limiting cancer cell reproduction. You can also find plenty of lignans in broccoli, garlic and onion.
2. They promote bone health
A single serving of cucumber slices contains over 20% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, which is crucial for the maintenance of strong bones. Specifically, vitamin K is necessary for effective calcium absorption, so those with vitamin K deficiencies may fracture bones more easily and can be more prone to developing osteoporosis in later life. In addition, vitamin K seems to afford protection against cells that can break down bone.
3. They support your cardiovascular system
Firstly, cucumbers provide you with potassium, which helps to keep blood pressure within healthy limits and plays a role in keeping your heart rhythm regular. Meanwhile, if you’re concerned about getting cholesterol under control, cucumbers might be a surprising ally. They contain sterols, which are powerful compounds capable of cutting down levels of LDL cholesterol.
4. Some people use them as part of a hangover cure
If you’ve had a night out on the town, chewing some cucumber before bed could be the key to reducing hangover symptoms. While there is currently little experimental data to support the efficacy of this remedy, it may be the case that the B vitamins and electrolytes in cucumbers will help to replenish the stocks of nutrients destroyed by alcohol. However, don’t forget to drink plenty of water as well!
5. They could boost immune system function
If you eat the nutritious skin of the cucumber, you receive a large dose of vitamin C. In fact, just one serving of cucumber slices contains approximately 10% of your recommended daily intake. Since vitamin C is linked to disease resistance, making sure cucumbers are a key part of your diet may help your body fight invading bacteria or viruses. If you’re looking for more ways to add extra vitamin C to your diet, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts and strawberries are also great choices.
6. They appear to have anti-inflammatory properties
Nutritionists have found that cucumbers are anti-inflammatory in a lab setting. This means cucumber can help to inhibit enzymes like cylcooxygenase 2 (often known as ‘COX-2’) that cause high levels of painful inflammation in the body. Research is ongoing, but it is speculated that the cucumber’s phytonutrients play a key role in this health benefit. It is also worth noting that the beta-carotene and manganese in cucumbers may further augment their anti-inflammatory capabilities.
7. You can use them to improve your skin
Cucumber slices are an old remedy for bags under the eyes, quickly reducing swelling and helping you look more alert. Meanwhile, you can juice a few cucumbers and mix them with yogurt to make a moisturizing facemask, soothing your skin 10-15 minutes after application. Alternatively, you can try blending the juice of half a cucumber with a quarter cup of milk, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of honey to create an exfoliating mask that scrubs away dead cells. This mask can reveal more radiant, youthful looking skin.
8. They help to regulate clotting
Since cucumbers contain plenty of vitamin K, they aid your body in producing more glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is an amino acid that ensures your blood clots properly when you are wounded, preventing excessive bleeding. In fact, vitamin K is regularly given as a preventative supplement if patients are at risk of serious bleeding during surgery.
9. They can aid weight loss
Cucumbers taste great if you sprinkle them with Italian reasoning or dip them in reduced-fat humus, making them an ideal snack if you’re attempting to lose weight. A serving of cucumber slices is fat-free and contains a mere 15 calories. Since cucumbers contain plenty of water and fiber, eating them can also help you to feel fuller for longer.
10. They may ease arthritis pain
Finally, if you suffer from arthritis then it’s worth adding more cucumber to your diet to see if you experience any improvements. Cucumbers provide you with silica, which can enhance joint health by strengthening your connective tissues. In addition, cucumbers contain plenty of vitamins B1, B6, D and A, as well as folate. All of these nutrients are linked to well-functioning joints.