The humble cucumber can keep your body cool and hydrated, even as it prevents diseases such as diabetes.
Eat them raw and you get a juicy crunch. Pickle them in brine and you have a fermented treat that will keep for months. Cucumbers, however, do more than just serve as a refreshing feature of salads, sandwiches, slaws, and cocktails. This popular produce pick, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family (along with melon, squash, and pumpkins) has been used in traditional medicine since ancient times for its unnumbered health benefits.
Cucumber is rich in polyphenols and cucurbitacins, plant compounds that are known to be antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic, diuretic, antimicrobial, and analgesic (pain-relieving), to name a few.
And while you may be used to thinking of cucumbers as a vegetable, the seed-bearing snacks are actually a fruit.
17 Health Benefits of Cucumber
1. Keeps you hydrated. Cucumbers are approximately 96 percent water, so they can be particularly effective at promoting hydration and helping you meet your daily fluid needs.
3. Eases osteoarthritis pain. In a study, using 10 milligrams (mg) of an aqueous extract of cucumber twice daily proved effective in reducing pain related to moderate knee osteoarthritis and can be used to address knee pain, stiffness, and physical functions related to the condition.
Osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear on the joints, presently has no known cure and is conventionally managed through high doses of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs that often come with side effects.
4. Helps treat liver damage. Heat-treated cucumber juice showed a significant protective benefit on alcohol detoxification among animal subjects, suggesting a potential use in treating liver injury due to excess alcohol consumption.
5. May lower blood sugar. A number of animal studies show that cucumbers may effectively reduce and control blood sugar levels. Another study induced diabetes in animal subjects, provided them with cucumber peel extract, and found that the peel reversed most of the changes associated with diabetes, causing a reduction in blood sugar levels.
“Our conclusion supports additional in-depth study of this pharmacologic activity as a malignant tumor agent,” wrote the researchers in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences.
7. Supports brain function. Fresh cucumbers were ground and turned into a paste of varying concentrations. The conclusion, researchers wrote in Pharmacognosy Journal: They helped increase cognition in animal models.
8. Promotes regular bowel movement. Cucumbers are water-rich and help prevent dehydration, a major risk factor for constipation. Staying properly hydrated can improve stool consistency, as well as regularity. The seeds, while having a cooling effect on the body, are used to prevent constipation.
9. Soothes skin. Cucumber is known for its soothing effect on skin irritations and its ability to reduce swelling. It also has the power to alleviate pain from sunburns.
11. Potent anti-inflammatory. An iminosugar amino acid in cucumber, called idoBR1, may function as an anti-inflammatory agent, and its importance in a diet, therefore, warrants further investigation, according to a 2020 study.
12. Supports bone health. A half-cup serving provides 8.53 micrograms of vitamin K. Based on a review of the current literature, supplementing with vitamin K1 (the type found in cucumbers) and K2 can reduce the incidence of fractures among postmenopausal women.
13. Serves as a natural eye mask. Research suggests that applying cucumbers to your eyes can impart a cooling effect on skin, hydrate the eyes and surrounding areas, and help reduce dark circles due to its vitamin K levels.
15. Slashes mortality risk. Beta-carotene, found abundantly in cucumber, is an important pro-vitamin A carotenoid. A meta-analysis showed that dietary or circulating beta-carotene was inversely associated with the risk of all-cause mortality, citing the possibility of extending the human lifespan.
16. Helps combat prostate cancer. Cucurbitacin B, a naturally occurring compound in cucumber and other vegetables, significantly and specifically inhibits prostate cancer cell growth.
17. Protects against diabetes complications. In a study, cucumbers were able to prevent oxidative stress and carbonyl stress, considered a safe and suitable way to protect against the complications typically observed in diabetes.