By Dr. Mercola

Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Just like watermelon, cucumbers consist for the most part of (95 percent) water, which means that they can be hydrated on a warm summer's day.

However, there is reason to eat cucumbers all year round. With vitamins K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C and manganese, cucumbers can help you prevent nutrient deficiencies that are common in people following a typical American diet. In addition, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that can reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.

9 reasons to eat cucumbers

1. Protect your brain – Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol, called fisetin, which appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells against age-related decline,1 fisetin has been shown to prevent progressive memory and learning disabilities in mice with Alzheimer's disease.2

2. Reduce your risk of cancer – Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol and secoisolariciresinol), which can help lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer.3 They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:4

"Scientists have already determined that different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) that are necessary for the development and survival of cancer cells can be blocked by the activity of cucurbitacins."

3. Fighting inflammation – Cucumbers can 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) .5

4. Antioxidant properties – Cucumbers contain many antioxidants, including the well-known vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin and kaempferol,6 that offer extra benefits.

For example, quercetin is an antioxidant that many believe to prevent histamine release – making quercetin-rich foods & # 39; natural antihistamines & # 39; is becoming. Kaempferol can meanwhile help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic illnesses, including heart disease.

5. Freshen your breath – Placing a slice of cucumber on the roof of your mouth can help rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to Ayurveda's principles, eating cucumbers can also help to release excess heat into your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.7

6. Deal with stress – Cucumbers contain several B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5 and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help relieve feelings of anxiety and to buffer some of the harmful effects of stress.

7. Support your digestion – Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber. By adding cucumbers to your juice or salad, you can achieve the ideal fiber content that your body needs – 50 grams per 1,000 calories you consume.

If you are struggling with acid reflux, you should know that drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily increasing the pH of the stomach; it is possible that water-rich cucumbers have a similar effect. Cucumber skins contain insoluble fibers that help to add bulk to your stool. This helps food go faster through your digestive tract for a healthy elimination.

8. Maintain a healthy weight – Cucumbers are low in calories, but still constitute a filling snack (a cup of sliced ​​cucumber contains only 16 calories).8 The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves in a gel-like texture in your intestines and helps with that to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is a reason why fiber-rich foods can help with weight management.

9. Supporting heart health – Cucumbers contain potassium, which is accompanied by lower blood pressure levels. A good balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function properly.

As an electrolyte, potassium is a positively charged ion that must maintain a certain concentration (about 30 times higher inside than outside of your cells) to perform its functions, including sodium interaction to help control nerve impulse transfer, muscle contraction, and heart function .

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Cucumbers form an excellent basis for vegetable juice

There are many ways to enjoy cucumbers, such as fermented or raw in vinegar-based salads. If you are looking for something else, cucumbers are an ideal basis for your vegetable juice because of their mild taste and high water content. In fact, a simple cucumber and celery juice is ideal for people who don't yet have juice.

From there you can work your way up to red leaf lettuce, sliced ​​lettuce, spinach and escarole, together with parsley and coriander. Juicing is actually an ideal way to consume cucumbers.

When you drink freshly made green juice, it is almost as if you are receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, because they are absorbed directly into your system without being degraded. When your body has an abundance of nutrients it needs and your pH is optimally balanced, you will feel energized and your immune system will get a boost.

Organic cucumbers are worth it

If you are wondering if you should choose organic cucumbers over conventionally grown varieties, I suggest organic. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), cucumbers were ranked as the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk because of their pesticide content.

Furthermore, after the harvest, cucumbers are often waxed to withstand the long journey to the market without scars and to protect against the many hands that touch it. Although the wax is food-safe and safe, different types are used:9

Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm)

Beeswax

Shellac (from the beetle)

Washing based on petroleum

The natural waxes are much preferred over the petroleum-based waxes, which may contain solvent residues or wood resins. Wax-coated products are not labeled as such, but organic products do not contain wax coatings based on petroleum (although it may contain carnauba wax or insect shellac).

The other potential problem is that wax seals in pesticide and debris residues, making them even more difficult to remove with water alone. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your fruit and vegetables, you need a cleaning agent that also removes the wax, which my fruit and vegetable wax does. You can also peel the cucumber, but that's one of the most nutritious parts of the cucumber (the others are the seeds), so it's better to consume it if you can.

What are cucumbers good for?

Flavonoids and tannins in cucumbers were found to have both free radicals and analgesic effects, while it also has a number of traditional folkloric uses. As written in the Journal of Young Pharmacists:10"Traditionally this plant is used for headache; the seeds are cooling and moisture-repellent, the fruit juice from this plant is used as a nutrient and as a soothing agent against acne lotions. "

If the fourth most grown & # 39; vegetable & # 39; in the world (cucumbers are technically a fruit), cucumbers are available everywhere, but try to get them from a local farmers market if you can. In fact, cucumbers are very easy to grow, even if you only have access to a patio. They thrive in containers (provided they can climb on something) and produce enough products from a small number of plants, so you can try growing them yourself.

Visit our library with nutrition facts for information about nutrition

If you want to know more about what's in the food you eat, visit our library with facts about food. Most people are unaware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthy foods, especially organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thus stimulate your brain function, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, lose weight and much more.

Food Facts is a directory with the most recommended health foods that you can add to your healthy diet. The goal is to provide you with valuable information about different types of food, including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You learn about nutritional facts, scientific studies and even interesting trivia about every food in the Food Facts library. Remember that knowing what is in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals every day. So visit Mercola Food Facts today to get started.

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