The humble, crunchy cucumber is a wonderful vegetable to beat the scorching summer heat. Cucumber is one of the oldest cultivated crops, believed to have been originated in the Indian subcontinent.
The plant is basically a creeper and belongs to the Cucurbitaceous family, its scientific name being Cucumis sativus. This vegetable is considered as a super food for its effects on the overall health.
This plant is extremely easy to grow and is cultivated in various sizes, shapes and colour. The vegetable is cultivated all over the world. It has a light to dark green thin skin, moisture rich flesh and has tiny edible seeds inside. The vegetable is best harvested when it is young, tender and just short of achieving maturity. It has a slightly sweet flavour and is mainly eaten raw in salad or sandwiches or in the form of juice.
Let’s have a look at the amazing benefits of cucumber for skin, hair and health:
Health Benefits of Cucumber
1. Fight Constipation:
The amount of calories in cucumber is very low and it contains just 15 grams of calories per 100 grams. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.
2. High Fiber:
Cucumber peel is a very good source of dietary fiber (2). It helps to reduce constipation and indigestion and prevents stomach related diseases by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
3. Healthy Urinary Bladder and Kidney:
It has healing attributes in relation to the diseases of urinary bladder and kidney. The water content in cucumber aids the function of kidney by promoting urination. Regular consumption of cucumber can also dissolve kidney stones over time
4. Aids Digestion:
Digestive problems like heartburn, acidity, gastritis and even ulcer can be cured by daily consumption of cucumber or cucumber juice. It can also treat the problem of constipation. Cucumber contains an enzyme called Erepsin which aids in the digestion of protein.
5. Fight Intestinal Worm:
Not just cucumber and its juice, but its seeds are also highly beneficial. Cucumber seeds are considered as a natural remedy to eliminate tape worm from intestinal tracts. The seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties (5) which are effective in the treatment of swellings of mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
6. Good Dosage of Potassium:
Cucumbers are one of the best sources of potassium and contain 147 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams. This heart friendly electrolyte reduces blood pressure level in the body and reduces heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium.
7. High in Antioxidants:
Cucumbers contain good amount of antioxidants like B carotene, A-carotene, zea-xanthin and lutein (7). These compounds act as a scavenger against free radicals that lead to ageing and other age related diseases.
8. Reduces Inflammation:
Fresh cucumber extracts are also known to reduce unwanted inflammation. It accomplishes the task by inhabiting activity of pro inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxyenase and by preventing over production of nitric oxides which leads to excessive inflammation.
9. Beneficial for Diabetics:
Cucumber juice contains hormones. These are needed by the pancreas for producing insulin which is extremely beneficial to diabetic patients. Copper in cucumber also aids to produce healthy blood cells and improves blood circulation in the body.
Cucumbers are known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. These 3 lignans are strongly connected with reducing the risk of developing several kinds of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer. When we consume these lignans, bacteria found in our digestive tract take hold of these lignans and convert them into enterolignans. These enterolignans bind on to the estrogens receptors to reduce estrogens related diseases like cancer.
11. Good for Dental Health:
Cucumber also cares for the dental health by combating bad breath. The vegetable releases phytochemical which kill the bad breath causing bacteria. Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of the mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds. The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria responsible for causing bad breath. Raw cucumber increases salivation and brings a neutralisation of acids and alkali in oral cavity. Cucumber juice can effectively treat gum diseases like pyorrhoea and weak gums.
12. Cures Hangover:
Cucumber can also be used to cure hangover and headache associated with it. This is because they help to rehydrate the body’s nutrients and eliminate the toxins that are present due to the intake of alcohol. Eat few cucumber slices before going to bed. The sugar, vitamin B and electrolytes content in cucumber will reduce the intensity of hangover and headache.
13. Good for Treating Blood Pressure Issues:
Cumber has mild diuretic properties owing to its high potassium and water content. It also has a good amount of manganese, potassium and fibre which regulates the blood pressure and treats both high and low blood pressure. Steam produced while boiling cucumber acts as a stress reliever and calms and relaxes the senses and muscles.
14. Flushes Out Waste From the Body:
Cucumber contains 95% water which hydrates and replenishes the body by eliminating the toxins. The high water content in cucumber acts as a system cleanser and sweeps the waste products out of the system.
15. Strengthens Bones:
Vitamin K in cucumbers plays a very important role in strengthening bones by promoting orthotropic activity (15). The high amount of silica in it promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissue. It is also a good source of calcium making it perfect for vegan diet. Getting enough calcium also maintains the body’s hormone balance by controlling hormone release.
16. Treats Alzheimer’s:
Copper in cucumber help the people to make neurotransmitters, the family of chemicals, which brain needs to communicate. It also helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neutral damage in the brain.
Skin Benefits of Cucumber
Most of the hair care and skin care products are manufactured using cucumber as one of its main ingredients. The raw fruit is also used in many beauty parlours and spas in their facial treatments to reduce wrinkles and puffiness around the eyes.
Some of the major cucumber benefits for skin are:
17. Revitalizes Skin:
The greatest and most important skin benefit of cucumber is that it helps in revitalizing the skin. Facial masks containing cucumber juice are beneficial for skin tightening.
18. Reverses Skin Tanning:
It has a mild bleaching property which can reverse skin tanning and give you youthful and glowing skin.
19. Controls Puffiness of the Eyes:
If you are worried about eye puffiness then cucumbers can provide you with instant relief. The ascorbic acid and caffeic acid in cucumber brings down the water retention rate which in turn diminishes the swelling and puffiness around the yes.
20. Helps Soothe Sunburn:
Putting cucumber slices or puree on sunburnt skin brings instant relief. Thus cucumber is a natural and gentle way to treat sun burn.
21. Rejuvenates Skin:
The most common use of cucumber pulp and juice is to improve complexion and rejuvenate the skin. Mix cucumber juice with a few drop of lemon juice and apply it as a facial mask. This will improve the complexion and will add a glow to the skin.
22. Treats Open Pores:
You can also use cucumber to treat open pores and heat bumps on legs. Extract cucumber juice and use it as a toner. You can also mix it with apple cider vinegar, tomato pulp and Aloe Vera gel to make it more effective.
23. Fights Cellulite:
Cucumber can also help to banish cellulite of thighs. Mix some ground coffee with cucumber juice and raw honey to make a thick paste. Apply this on the affected areas, wrap it in muslin cloth and exfoliate gently after 30 minutes. Eating cucumber can also treat cellulite.
24. Hydrates Skin:
Cucumber contains 95% of water which keeps the skin hydrated and well moisturised. Its seeds are rich in Vitamin E and potassium which help in reducing fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and other signs of ageing.
25. Reduces Dark Circles:
Putting cucumber slices around the eyes also reduces the appearance of dark circles quickly. The abundance of antioxidants and silica within the cucumber can rejuvenate the skin and fade dark circles. Place 2 slices of cucumbers on the eyes and leave it for 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can also soak 2 cotton balls in cucumber juice and place them on your eyes.
26. Treats Blemishes:
You can use grated cucumber to treat freckles and blemishes. Apply cucumber juice all over the face to treat freckles and spots.
Cucumber as a Face Pack:
Cucumber offers multiple benefits when used as a face pack. Grated cucumber and cucumber juice can be used as a key component in facial masks to treat wrinkles, pimples and other skin problems.
Take a fresh Cucumber and blend it in a blender to make a fine paste. Add some lemon juice drops and 1 teaspoon of honey to it. Apply it all over the face and leave it for 20 minutes. Wash it off with tap water and pat dry. This face pack will help to reverse tanning.
Mix some turmeric and lemon juice with fresh cucumber pulp. Apply it on the face and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash it off after it dries. This will control oil secretion of the face.
Mix a teaspoon of oats with cucumber pulp and leave it aside for half an hour. Apply it on the face and neck and leave it to dry for 20 minutes. This face pack is very effective for dry skin. You can also add honey to this face pack to moisturise the skin.
Hair Benefits of Cucumber
27. Stronger Hair:
The most important benefit of cucumber for hair is its hair strengthening properties. Cucumber in the form of the juice contributes to the hair growth primarily due to its content of silicon, sulphur sodium, phosphorus and calcium which are some of the most needed nutrients required for hair growth. Drink cucumber juice daily to control hair fall.
28. Silky Smooth Hair:
Cucumber juice can also be used as a hair rinse to get silky and shiny hair. It conditions the hair and makes it more manageable.
29. Stain Remover:
Cucumber can also be used to remove stubborn stains and tarnish from stainless steel tools, countertops and walls in the house. It also restores the lost shine of the tools. Chemicals found in cucumber are also used in making shoe polishes to make them more their shiny.
30. Control Pests:
Place slices of cucumbers in containers around the garden to control slugs and pest of the area. The chemical in these vegetables releases a scent which wards of the pests and insects.
Cucumber Side Effects:
- Cucumbers are not entirely reaction free. They do have some side effects. Some of these are:
- Allergies, especially around oral cavity, itchiness and swelling may also develop due to allergy. This can be redeemed by cooking the food rather than eaten it in its raw form.
- Cucumber can also lead to gastritis problems in some people which are mainly caused due to a compound known as cucurbitacin which causes indigestion. This can be avoided by eating cucumbers which have undergone breeding or whose compound has been removed.
- Cucumber can also cause toxicity and baldness caused by chemicals found in the cucumbers. This usually happens when one consumes excess of cucumber.