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Cucumbers

cucumbers

Cucumbers are a great source of hydration and

have the potential to lower blood sugar, reduce

cholesterol levels and act as antioxidants.





Cucumbers are members of the Cucurbitaceous or gourd family. which includes melons, including bitter melon, squash, and pumpkins. There are over 30 species of cucumber, with Cucumis sativus having the most economic value. The cucumber is an annual, easily-grown vine with the fruits being technically classified as berries. The three main types are classified as slicing, pickling, and seedless. Cucumber's fruits are a major food worldwide but the peel, leaves, flowers, and seeds also have medicinal properties. Cucumbers have a very low glycaemic index (Gl) ranking and they are consumed fresh in salads, fermented as pickles, or eaten as a cooked vegetable.


Active ingredients

Cucumbers are a nutritious food that contains various beneficial components such as cucurbitacins (a class of triterpenoids), glycosides, flavonoids, antioxidants, alkaloids, lignans, vitexin, tannins, saponins, and phenolic compounds. They have a high water content of around 96%, which makes them very hydrating. They are also a good source of vitamins A, B, C and K, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc, electrolytes, and dietary fiber. Moreover, cucumbers are low in calories, cholesterol, and sodium, making them a healthy addition to any diet.



Healing effects

Hydration

Adequate hydration is critical for health. Cucumbers are a highly hydrating food due to their high water and electrolyte content, which promotes health.


Cardiovascular disease

Inflammation and oxidation are known to be critical factors in the development of several cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, chronic heart disease, and chronic renal failure. Angiotensin II is believed to be a major contributor to both inflammation and oxidative stress. An interesting in vitro study was conducted on cucumbers, which found that this particular food product can significantly reduce the inflammatory and oxidative effects of angiotensin II. This result suggests that cucumbers could be an excellent dietary option to protect cardiovascular and kidney health.


Gastrointestinal

Cucumbers have been shown to have multiple positive effects on gut function. They can help reduce constipation due to their rehydrating properties and high fiber content. Studies have also shown that cucumbers have anti-ulcer activity in ulcerative colitis, anthelmintic activity against tapeworms and pinworms, and anti-diarrheal properties. The fruit, seeds, and leaves of cucumbers are equally effective as the drug ranitidine in treating ulcers.



Endocrine

Cucumber, particularly its peel, may regulate glucose levels. Cucurbitacins are known for their cardiovascular and antidiabetic properties, although more research is needed.


Bone health

The peel of cucumbers contains over 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health.




Antioxidant

A recent study aimed to evaluate the impact of cucumber on the antioxidant levels of healthy individuals aged over 60. The results of blood tests revealed significant increases in plasma glutathione peroxidase activity, vitamin C, and total phenolics. Additionally, the levels of uric acid and DNA injury rate of blood mononuclear cells decreased, indicating a positive effect on antioxidant levels.


Topical use

Fresh cucumber juice has numerous benefits for skin health. It can soothe skin irritations, reduce swelling, stop itching, and alleviate sunburn pain. Cucumber is also known for its ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and has proven anti-aging properties. Its anti-hyaluronidase and anti-elastase activities make it an excellent ingredient for cosmetic use.


Cautions and contraindications

To get the maximum benefit from cucumbers, it is recommended to eat the whole cucumber, including its peel and seeds. However, it is important to only consume cucumbers that are known to be edible, as some types may have high levels of cucurbitacins, which can be toxic. People who take blood thinners, such as warfarin, should be cautious about consuming too many cucumbers due to their high vitamin K content.

Dr Karen Bridgman practices holistic health and dentistry at Lotus Health and Lotus Dental in Neutral Bay.


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