Though commonly thought to be a vegetable, cucumber is actually a fruit. It’s high in beneficial nutrients, as well as certain plant compounds and antioxidants that may help treat and even prevent some conditions.
Also, cucumbers are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fiber, making them ideal for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss.
Here are 7 reasons you should eat cucumber regularly.
1. It’s High in Nutrients
Cucumbers are low in calories but high in many important vitamins and minerals. One 11-ounce (300-gram) unpeeled, raw cucumber contains the following
- Calories: 45
- Total fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 14% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 62% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
- Potassium: 13% of the RDI
- Manganese: 12% of the RDI
Although, the typical serving size is about one-third of a cucumber, so eating a standard portion would provide about one-third of the nutrients above. Additionally, cucumbers have a high water content. In fact, cucumbers are made up of about 96% water.
To maximize their nutrient content, cucumbers should be eaten unpeeled. Peeling them reduces the amount of fiber, as well as certain vitamins and minerals.
2. It Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that block oxidation, a chemical reaction that forms highly reactive atoms with unpaired electrons known as free radicals. The accumulation of these harmful free radicals can lead to several types of chronic illness.
In fact, oxidative stress caused by free radicals has been associated with cancer and heart, lung and autoimmune disease. Fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, are especially rich in beneficial antioxidants that may reduce the risk of these conditions.
One study measured the antioxidant power of cucumber by supplementing 30 older adults with cucumber powder. At the end of the 30-day study, cucumber powder caused a significant increase in several markers of antioxidant activity and improved antioxidant status.
However, it’s important to note that the cucumber powder used in this study likely contained a greater dose of antioxidants than you would consume in a typical serving of cucumber.
Another test-tube study investigated the antioxidant properties of cucumbers and found that they contain flavonoids and tannins, which are two groups of compounds that are especially effective at blocking harmful free radicals.
3. It Promotes Hydration
Water is crucial to your body’s function, playing numerous important roles. It is involved in processes like temperature regulation and the transportation of waste products and nutrients.
In fact, proper hydration can affect everything from physical performance to metabolism. While you meet the majority of your fluid needs by drinking water or other liquids, some people may get as much as 40% of their total water intake from food.
Fruits and vegetables, in particular, can be a good source of water in your diet. In one study, hydration status was assessed and diet records were collected for 442 children. They found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with improvements in hydration status.
Because cucumbers are composed of about 96% water, they are especially effective at promoting hydration and can help you meet your daily fluid needs.
4. It May Aid in Weight Loss
Cucumbers could potentially help you lose weight in a few different ways. First of all, they are low in calories. Each one-cup (104-gram) serving contains just 16 calories, while an entire 11-ounce (300-gram) cucumber contains only 45 calories.
This means that you can eat plenty of cucumbers without packing on the extra calories that lead to weight gain. Cucumbers can add freshness and flavor to salads, sandwiches and side dishes and may also be used as a replacement for higher calorie alternatives.
Furthermore, the high water content of cucumbers could aid in weight loss as well. One analysis looked at 13 studies including 3,628 people and found that eating foods with high water and low calorie contents was associated with a significant decrease in body weight.