Most of us have been using cucumber in our creamy salads without knowing what it actually is. So, here lies the question. Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Don’t fret. We are here to help you out. However, first, let’s discuss some necessary details about the cucumber. Cucumber is full of nutrients. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Typically, it has a meager caloric count but contains a lot of water. In this article, we are going to discuss nutrition facts and health benefits of cucumber.
Cucumber Nutrition Facts
Cucumber is full of nutrients and health benefits. According to USDA, one hundred grams of raw cucumber contains 12kcal Energy. It means, it has 0.59g Protein, 0.16g Fats, 2.16g Carbohydrate, 0.7g Fibre, and 1.38g of Sugar. Firstly, it is rich in various minerals. It bears 14mg Calcium, 12mg Magnesium, 136mg Potassium, 21mg Phosphorous, 2 Mg Sodium, 0.22mg Iron, 0.17mg Zinc, 0.071mg Copper, and 0.1µg Selenium. Other than that, in terms of Vitamins, cucumber contains 4µg of Vitamin A, 0.051mg Vitamin B-6, 3.2mg Vitamin C, 0.03mg Vitamin E, 7.2µg Vitamin K, 0.031mg Thiamine, 0.025mg Riboflavin, 0.037mg Niacin, and 14µg Folate. Lastly, speaking of fatty acids, it has 0.013g total saturated fatty acids, 0.002g monounsaturated, and 0.003g polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Health Benefits of Cucumber:
With all these extraordinary nutrients, cucumber bears several amazing health benefits. So, without further ado, let’s see these health benefits in detail.
1) Source of Hydration:
As cucumber is 96% of water, it contains electrolytes. Thus, it prevents dehydration during summers. It’s crucial to stay hydrated to prevent diseases such as constipation. Water gets reabsorbed from the undigested food in the large intestine. The more you stay hydrated, the less water will be withdrawn from the colon. It will make the stool easier to pass.
2) Essential for bone:
As mentioned earlier, cucumbers are rich in minerals. They contain a high amount of potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium. Basically, calcium is the primary building block of bones. It forms the bone density along with other minerals like phosphorous. Your body does not make calcium. Therefore, you must incorporate adequate calcium in your diet for bone health.
3) Vitamin A, C, and K:
Vitamin A in cucumber is beneficial for the eyesight. Typically, Vitamin C strengthens your immune system. Meanwhile, Vitamin K is an essential factor for blood clotting. It helps in the absorption of calcium in bones, hence promoting better bone health.
When you are exposed to environmental pollution, your body produces free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that cause oxidation (damaging) of cells. It leads to diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Cucumber has antioxidants beta carotene and flavonoids. Therefore, eating cucumber can neutralize free radicals and make your immune system stronger.
5) Cancer Prevention:
Cucumber contains two phytonutrients; Lignans and cucurbitacins. Therefore, they are beneficial in preventing cancer. Moreover, they are also used in the development of cancer drugs. Research conducted in 2009 showed the effects of certain substances on cancer cells. It was and published in the “Journal of Cancer Research.” In the study, scientists found that cucurbitacins can inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Curcubitacins are the chemicals found naturally in cucumbers.
6) Heart Disease:
Cucumbers have potassium, which helps in reducing high blood pressure. “American Heart Association (AHA)” conducted a research study. It revealed that fibers in cucumber could decrease cholesterol. It prevents cardiovascular disease. Basically, cucumbers are high in potassium. Potassium reduces sodium induced water retention. As a result, it lowers blood pressure.
Cucumbers play an essential role in controlling and preventing Diabetes. Basically, cucurbitacins present in cucumber can help to regulate Insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body. Cucumbers also have a low score on the glycemic index (GI). It shows, they have nutrients that can increase blood glucose without consuming carbohydrates.
One of the main concerns in consuming cucumbers is the use of pesticides. These are chemicals to kill pests and insects on vegetables and fruits. However, washing the cucumbers properly in warm water cleans out the pesticide residue. Also, you can peel the skin off to eliminate the remaining traces of pesticides.
Another associated risk is wax present on cucumbers. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, vegetables and fruits are waxed with chemicals. The reason behind putting the wax is to protect them during shipping. Therefore, the World’s Healthiest Foods encourage people to buy organic cucumbers.
Cucumber is a refreshing food with several nutrients and health benefits. Keeping it as part of a balanced diet can add value to your overall health. Do you remember the question thrown at the beginning of our cucumber nutrition journey? So, the answer to your question is that cucumber is a fruit. It is a fruit because it develops from the flower of the cucumber plant. Therefore, you cannot call it a vegetable.