Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 percent) water. With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.
Plus, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.
Why Eat Cucumbers
- Protect Your Brain
Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline, fisetin has been found to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties.
- Fight Inflammation
Cucumbers may help to “cool” the inflammatory response in your body, and animal studies suggest that cucumber extract helps reduce unwanted inflammation, in part by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes (including cyclo-oxygenase 2, or COX-2).
- Antioxidant Properties
Cucumbers contain numerous antioxidants, including the well-known vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol,6 which provide additional benefits.
- Freshen Your Breath
Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.
How to Introduce Cucumbers in Your Diet
There are many ways to enjoy cucumbers, such as fermented or raw in vinegar-based salads. If you’re looking for something different, cucumbers make an ideal base for your vegetable juice due to their mild flavor and high water content. In fact, a simple juice of cucumber and celery is ideal for those new to juicing.
From there you can work your way up to red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, and escarole, along with parsley and cilantro. Juicing is actually an ideal way to consume cucumbers.
When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without having to be broken down. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients it needs, and your pH is optimally balanced, you will feel energized and your immune system will get a boost.