Food

The nutritional benefits of Cucumbers


The Cucumis Sativus, generally known as Cucumber is one of the world's healthiest foods. It belongs to the botanical family called curcubitaceae (same as melons and squashes).

If you are looking to shed some weight, then you are in the right place. Here are a few things you need to know about cucumbers:

History

Cucumber is believed to have originated from west Asia, India to be precise. It only spread to other parts of Europe 3000 years later. It was mentioned as the food of ancient Ur in the legend of Gilgamesh, a king in ancient Iraq.

From India, it spread to Greece, Italy, China and from there to other parts of the world. 84 billion pounds of Cucumber is produced annually worldwide. Currently, China is the world's largest producer of cucumber as she provides two-thirds of its global supply, other countries who participate actively in the cucumber market are Iran, Spain, USA and Mexico.

Nutritional value

The cucumber contains three basic phyto-nutrients namely; lignans, flavonoids and cucurbitacins. These nutrients protects the body from cancer, oxidants and inflammation. Research is being made by many pharmaceutical companies into a compound called Cucurbitacin, which is found in cucumber. Studies have shown that this compound could reduce cancer cell development and survival. Hopefully, a new anti-cancer drug will emerge from the studies.

It is also a very good source of vitamin K and pantothenic acid and provides the body with as much as 11 minerals and amino acids, all of which are required to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Varieties

Naturally, Cucumbers come in various sizes, colors and shapes but there are basically two varieties of cucumber. They are slicing and pickling. Slicers are fresh cucumbers that are cultivated for the purpose of eating in fresh form. It is consumed in the unripe form since the ripe one tastes bitter and sour.

Pickling cucumbers are the ones that are cultivated for the purpose of processing into pickles and not for fresh consumption. Although they can be eaten in fresh form, but they are mostly used as pickles. Pickling is the process  of fermenting the cucumber by soaking it in a solution so as to preserve it. It is mostly fermented in water that is mixed with salt (brine) and vinegar. Note that this process reduces the nutrient content of the vegetable.

Health Benefits

Cucumber keeps you hydrated and this is because it contains over 90 percent of water. It is not a supplement for water, but it can keep you going if you are too busy to drink enough water. Another benefit of its water content is that, it flushes out toxic substances in the body.

It contains anti-inflammatory substances that play an important role in protecting the brain from memory loss and learning impairment.

Like I said earlier, cucumber contains phyto-nutrients like cucurbitacin that reduces the risk of cancer. Also, it contains vitamins that protects the eyes as well as the heart. Eating cucumber leaves you with a fresh breath and also heals gum injuries.

It contains dietary fiber which helps in food digestion, and also makes you feel full for a longer period of time. This will prevent overeating and light snacking. It is also very low in calories and helps to maintain a healthy weight. All these and many more are the benefits of cucumber to our health and well being.

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