Nutritional and health benefits of cucumber

Introduction

Cucumber is an edible fruit which come from plant (cucumis sativus) which is part of the guord family, being used for different purpose. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and is believed to be originated in Northern India. Today cucumbers are fourth most widely grown vegetable crop in the world after tomatoes, onions and cabbage. They are grown worldwide in temperate region.

Varieties of cucumber

In human cultivation, the varieties of cucumber are classified into three main varieties; slicing, pickling and burpless.

  1. Slicing cucumber

Cucumbers grown to eat fresh are called slicing cucumbers. They are mainly eaten in the unripe green form, since the ripe yellow form normally becomes bitter and sour. Slicers grown commercially for the North American market are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in colour, and have a much tougher skin. Slicers in other countries are smaller and have a thinner, more delicate skin. Smaller slicing cucumbers can also be pickled (deform or dirt).

  1. Pickling cucumber

Cucumbers can be pickled for flavour and longer shelf-life. Although any cucumber can be pickled, commercial pickles are made from cucumbers specially bred for uniformity of length-to-diameter ratio and lack of voids in the flesh. Those cucumbers intended for pickling, called picklers, grow to about 7 cm (3 in) to 10 cm (4 in) long and 2.5 cm (1 in) wide. Compared to slicers, picklers tend to be shorter, thicker, less regularly shaped, and have bumpy skin with tiny white or black-dotted spines. They are never waxed. Colour can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green. Pickling cucumbers are sometimes sold fresh as “Kirby” or “Liberty” cucumbers. The pickling process removes or degrades much of the nutrient content, especially that of vitamin C. Pickled cucumbers are soaked in brine or a combination of vinegar and brine.  Pickled cucumbers are called “pickles” in the US or “gherkins” or “wallies” in the UK.

  1. Burpless cucumber

Burpless cucumbers are sweeter and have a thinner skin than other varieties of cucumber, and are reputed to be easy to digest and to have a pleasant taste. They can grow as long as 2 feet (0.61 m). They are nearly seedless, and have a delicate skin. Most commonly grown in greenhouses, these parthenocarpic cucumbers are often found in grocery markets, shrink-wrapped in plastic. They are sometimes marketed as seedless or burpless, because the seeds and skin of other varieties of cucumbers are said to give some people gas.

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Several varietals exist and are sold commercially:

  • Dosakai is a yellow cucumber available in parts of India. These fruits are generally spherical in shape. It is commonly cooked as curry.
  • Lebanese cucumbers are small, smooth-skinned and mild, yet with a distinct flavour and aroma. Like the English cucumber, Lebanese cucumbers are nearly seedless.
  • Kekiri is a smooth skinned cucumber, relatively hard, and not used for salads. It is cooked as spicy curry. It is found in dry zone of Sri Lanka. It becomes orange colour when the fruit is matured.
  • East Asian cucumbers are mild, slender, deep green, and have a bumpy, ridged skin. They can be used for slicing, salads, pickling, etc.,
  • Persian cucumber, which are mini, seedless, and slightly sweet, are available from Canada during the summer.

Nutritional composition of cucumber

Energy                         15kcal (< 1%)

Carbohydrates              3.65g (3%)

Protein                         0.65g (1%)

Total fat                       0.11g (0.5%)

Cholesterol                   0mg (0%)

Dietary fibre                 0.5g (1%)

Vitamins

Folates                         7μg (2%)

Nacin                           0.098mg (<1%)

Pantothenic acid            0.259mg (5%)

Pyridoxine                    0.259mg (5%)

Thamine                       0.027mg (3%)

Vitamin A                     105 Iu (3.5%)

Vitamin C                     2.8mg (4.5%)

Vitamin E                     0.03mg (0%)

Vitamin K                     16.4μg (13.6%)

Electrolytes

Sodium                         2mg (1%)

Potassium                   147mg (3%)

Minerals

Calcium                        16mg (1.6%)

Iron                             0.2mg (3.5%)

Magnesium                   13mg (3%)

Phosphorus                  24mg (3%)

Manganese                   0.079mg (3.5%)

Zinc                                 0.20mg (2%)

Phyto-nutrients

Caroten-B                           4.5μg

Lutein-2eaxanthin          23μg

Preparation and serving method

Before using cucumber, wash them thoroughly in cold running water. Sometimes they may require light scrub at places where prickles (deform or dirt) attached firmly. Trim both ends using sharp knife and rub the ends to remove sticky, off-white, fluid like oozing substance in order to lessen bitter taste at either ends. Cut into cubes, slices, etc., as you may desire.

Tips for serving

Here are some tips for serving cucumber:

  • With water melon cubes fruit salad.
  • Fresh clean cucumber may be enjoyed as they are without any addition
  • Its cubes are a great addition to vegetable/fruit salads.
  • Indian yellow curry cucumber (dosakayi) is used widely in a variety of curry, and stew preparations in south India with added buttermilk and yogurt.
  • Finely chopped fresh slices mixed with yogurt, cumin, coriander, pepper, and salt to make Indian condiment, cucumber raita.
  • Cucumber juice is a very good health drink.
  • Fine slices also added in delicious Spanish cold tomato and cucumber soup.
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Health benefits of cucumber

  1. Keeps you hydrated: Cucumber has 96% water content that is more nutritious than regular water which helps in keeping the body hydrated and regulating body temperature. It also helps in flushing out the toxins from the body.
  2. Skin care: The high water content and the presence of certain vitamins and minerals make cucumber an essential part of skin care. Facial masks containing cucumber juice can be used for skin tightening. Ascorbic acid and caffeic acid present in cucumbers can bring down the water retention rate which in turn diminishes the puffiness and swelling under the eyes. Cucumber skin also can bring relief to the skin caused by sunburn.
  3. Fights cancers: Cucumber contains lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol – three lignans that have a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of several cancer types, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  4. Control blood pressure: Cucumber juice contains a lot of potassium, magnesium and fiber which are very helpful for regulating blood pressure. This makes cucumber especially good for treating both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.
  5. Aids digestion: Digestive disorders, such as heartburn, gastritis, and even ulcers, can be cured by the daily consumption of fresh cucumber juice. The high water content and dietary fibre in cucumber are very effective in driving away the toxins from the digestive system and hence aid digestion. Daily consumption of cucumber can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation.
  6. Beneficial for teeth and gums: Cucumber juice is also beneficial for people with teeth and gums problems, especially in cases of pyorrhea. Cucumber is a good source of dietary fibre and this fibre massage in the teeth and gums.
  7. Nail care: The high silica content in cucumber also helps prevent splitting and spoiling of nails of the fingers and toes.
  8. Aid in weight loss: Due to its low calorie and high water content, cucumber is an ideal diet for people who looking for weight loss.
  9. Stimulate hair growth: Cucumber contains silicon and sulphur and thus a regular intake of cucumber can help promote healthy hair growth. For best results, mix cucumber juice with the juices of carrot, lettuce or spinach.
  10. Acts as a diuretic: The water content of cucumber acts as a diuretic. It encourages the elimination of waste products from the body through urination. Regular intake of cucumber helps to dissolve bladder or kidney stones.
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Conclusion

Cucumber is an edible fruit which come from plant (cucumis sativus) which is a part of guord family which is used for different purposes and its health benefits include, keeping you hydrated, skin care and fight against cancer and aids digestion, prevention of heart burn, gastritis and even ulcer can be cured by the daily consumption and it controls blood pressure, and it nutritive compositions include energy 15kcal (<1%), carbohydrates 3.65mg (3%), protein 0.65g (3%). It also contain  vitamin A 105lu (3.5%) and vitamin C 2.8mg (4.5%), minerals contents include calcium 16mg (1.6%), Iron 0.2mg and magnesium 13mg (3%).

References

Buchanan, D. (2012). Taste, Memory: Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavours, and why They Matter. VT, USA: Chelsea Green p. 109.

Daniel, R. W. (2000). From Work on the Petra Papyri: Arabic on a Greek Ostracon from Roman Egypt and the Name of the Church Father Sozomen. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 131: 173—176.

Doijode, S. D. (2001). Seed storage of horticultural crops. United Kingdom: Haworth Press. p. 281

Kuhnlein, H. V. & Turner, N. J. (1996). Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples: Nutrition, Botany and Use. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Gordon and Breach. p. 159.

Renner, S.S.; Schaefer, H. & Kocyan, A. (2007). Phylogenetics of Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumber (C. sativus) belongs in an Asian/Australian dade far from melon (C. melo. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 58.

Ruan, J.; Qian, W. & Wang, M. (2009). The genome of the cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. Nature Genetics 41(12): 1275—1281.

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