Cucumber has many benefits and is useful against water retention and in weight loss diets. It is also widely used in cosmetics to prepare beauty recipes for the skin. Learn about the properties of cucumber.
Only 12 calories per 100 grams of cucumber, the food with numerous beneficial properties for the skin and organism in general. Belonging to the cucurbit family (or cocurbitaceae), cucumber is one of the most water-rich vegetables: it contains 95% of it.
The cucumber plant grows in countries with a temperate-warm climate and is believed to come from India and was spread by the Egyptians. Cucumbers are characterized by an elongated shape that can reach up to 30 cm, have a dark green skin with tiny protuberances and a watery pulp of light green color with white seeds.
The smaller the cucumbers, the fewer seeds are present. There is a white-skinned variety, but it is very rare. The cucumber harvest takes place in the summer. In Italy, it is grown mainly in Lazio and Veneto but also in Puglia, Campania, Sicily and in small quantities in Emilia-Romagna and Calabria.
Varieties of cucumbers: what they are and characteristics
The beneficial properties of cucumbers unite the different varieties available on the market: in this regard, let’s describe the main ones.
✓ Small Paris cucumber
Short, stocky and cylindrical in shape, these gherkins ripen between April and September. The pulp of these vegetables is appreciable in texture and flavor, whitish and compact. It is a variety suitable for the preparation of pickled preserves.
✓ Long green cucumber of gardeners
Being the most common variety, these cucumbers boast medium to large sizes and firm flesh with few seeds. The color of the peel is a dark and intense green. The ripening of these vegetables goes from April to September.
✓ Dutch cucumber
This variety consists of cylindrical cucumbers with an important size. The wrapping of this vegetable is smooth, presenting a marked dark green color; the pulp is sweet, therefore pleasant. The ripening takes place, also in this case, between April and September.
✓ Half long white cucumber
Among the most particular cucumber varieties, the white cucumber ripens from May. Intuitively, its skin has a light color, tending to white, and contains a tasty pulp with few seeds. The size is medium-large.
Rounded in shape and striped in the casing, this Apulian variety belongs to the Cucumis melo species (the same as melon, in fact it is sometimes called “carousel melon”) and is actually a fruit, although it is used as a vegetable as an alternative to cucumber. The Carosello has a sweet taste and, thanks to the absence of cucurbitacin, it boasts a certain digestibility.
Similar to the Carosello and belonging to the Cucumis melo species, the Barattiere cucumber has intermediate characteristics between the cucumber and the melon. It is a fruit-vegetable originating from Puglia, where it is used like a cucumber. In particular, the Barattiere is consumed when it is not fully ripe, when its skin is still green.
Cucumber: calories and nutritional values
Cucumbers are vegetables very rich in water and for this reason they are refreshing and purifying. As we have seen, they are low in calories (100 grams of cucumber provide only 12 calories), and practically fat-free. It is also for these reasons that they are excellent to be consumed by those who want to keep fit.
As for micronutrients, cucumber contains a good amount of mineral salts, in particular potassium and phosphorus. Among the vitamins, the most abundant are vitamin C, folate and vitamin K.
A substance that characterizes cucumbers is also tartaric acid, an organic acid quite widespread in the plant world and very important for those who want to lose weight. In fact, this substance prevents a part of carbohydrates ingested in the same meal from being converted into fat, making them eliminated directly with the stool.
Nutritional values per 100g of cucumber:
- Waterfall: 96.73 gr
- kcal: 12
- Proteins: 0.59 g
- Fat: 0.16 g
- Fibers: 0.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.16 gr
- Soccer: 14 mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Potassium: 136 mg
- Phosphorus: 21 mg
- Zinc: 0.17 mg
- C vitamin: 3.2 mg (5.3% RDA)
- Vitamin B1: 0.031 mg (2.2% RDA)
- Vitamin B2: 0.025 mg (1.6% RDA)
- Vitamin B3: 0.037 mg (0.2% RDA)
- Vitamin B5: 0.24 mg (4% RDA)
- Vitamin B6: 0.051 mg (2.6% RDA)
- Folate: 14 µg (7% RDA)
- Vitamin K: 7.3 µg (10.3% RDA)
- Beta-carotene: 31 µg
- Cryptoxanthin: 18 µg
- Glycemic index: 15
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Cucumber: health benefits
Rich in vitamins and minerals (among which potassium and magnesium stand out), cucumber offers numerous beneficial properties: it is antioxidant, purifying, draining, useful for lowering cholesterol and is also particularly suitable for all those people who must maintain a controlled diet. Let’s now see all the benefits that these vegetables offer.
✓ They counteract hypertension
Thanks to the potassium content, regular consumption of cucumbers is able to favor the elimination of excess liquids, with a consequent beneficial effect on pressure.
✓ They are purifying and diuretic
Cucumber is rich in water and potassium, therefore an excellent ally for hydration of the body and to counteract water retention. Cucumbers also help purify the body and get rid of toxins and foreign substances.
✓ Prevent calculations
Thanks to their purifying and draining properties, cucumbers hinder the formation of bladder and kidney stones.
✓ Useful in case of gout
Regular consumption of cucumber helps lower uric acid levels, facilitating the healing process of gout, a painful disease that causes joint inflammation.
✓ They help to lose weight
The tartaric acid contained in cucumbers is able to help weight loss, as it prevents the conversion of carbohydrates into adipose tissue. This substance present in cucumber makes it a very useful food for those on a diet.
✓ They fight free radicals
This action is possible thanks to the presence of molecules such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all substances with a strong antioxidant power. Furthermore, it is interesting to know that lutein and zeaxanthin perform their protective action especially at the level of the retina, thus promoting eye health.
✓ Lower cholesterol
Cucumbers contain plant sterols, substances that help fight high cholesterol. For this reason, regular consumption of this vegetable promotes cardiovascular well-being.
✓ Help against diabetes
Cucumber is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and therefore helps to keep blood sugar levels low, which is useful in case of diabetes.
Another property of cucumbers, perhaps less known, is that of fighting intestinal parasites. In fact, once upon a time, they were used to eliminate these unwanted guests.
✓ Relieve joint pain
Thanks to the presence of silicon, cucumber can provide an extra (albeit mild) help in relieving joint pain, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
✓ Benefits for the skin
Finally, remember that cucumber is an ally of the skin because it helps hydration and purifies in case of blackheads and acne.
How many cucumbers to eat
Cucumbers fall into the category of vegetables and, as such, one serving is equivalent to about 200 grams, weighed raw. This quantity provides only 24 kilocalories and can also be consumed every day, possibly in combination with other seasonal vegetables. Eating cucumbers every day, in fact, will help our body to purify itself, reduce water retention and, more generally, will offer our body all the benefits we have seen above.
Cucumber: how to use and consume it
When buying cucumbers, make sure they are not bruised or wilted and dull in color. If you don’t like the seeds inside them, choose them not too big. Keep them in the fridge for a few days. The best way to consume cucumbers is raw, without peel or with the peel if it is the long variety with a particularly fine and digestible peel.
Also, larger cucumbers can be too bitter, so it’s best to choose medium sized cucumbers. In any case, to remove the bitterness from cucumbers, you generally proceed by cutting them into slices, sprinkle them with salt and wait at least 30 minutes before rinsing them well under running water. In this way the bitter liquid inside the vegetable will be eliminated. This will also improve the digestibility of the food. Alternatively, you can proceed as follows: cut the two ends of the cucumber and rub them concentrically on the part without the peel, so as to form a foam, then rinse the cucumber.
They are usually eaten in salads with oil, salt, pepper and vinegar. In some countries the cucumber is also consumed cooked. Then there are pickled cucumbers, which are the small ones. They can also be made into sauces or you can get the juice with an extractor. In this regard, excellent combinations are obtained between cucumber, apples, cabbage and lemon.
But the many properties of cucumber are also carried out through home remedies and it becomes the protagonist of masks and wraps. For example, to treat swollen eyes , it is advisable to keep a slice of cucumber over the closed eyes for about half an hour, so as to have immediate relief. Let’s see some “grandmother’s remedies” to use the ceriolo:
- Against acne and blackheads: put cucumber slices on the face so that it can carry out all its sebum regulating effect and purify the skin.
- For skin blemishes: This recipe involves making a cleanser by soaking a chopped cucumber in a quart of milk. Rubbing it on your face with a cotton swab would help reduce freckles and age spots.
- For burns: blend the cucumber until you get a smooth cream then apply it on the burn and leave to act for 15 minutes. This remedy is suitable for both sunburn and light burns.
- For the hair: cucumber has properties capable of stimulating the hair bulb and therefore hair growth. Prepare a pack with pureed cucumber, carrots, spinach and lettuce in equal quantities. Spread on the head and leave for a few minutes before shampooing.
Pickled cucumbers: are they good or bad?
Ownership and how to make them at home The nutritional characteristics of pickled cucumbers may differ slightly from those of fresh cucumbers. In this regard, an increase in sodium intake may occur, as well as a loss in micronutritional terms (vitamins and minerals), due to the pH and dispersion in the preservation liquid. Although these are practical, tasty, and low-calorie preparations, it is preferable to use pickled cucumbers no more than once or twice a week, in moderate quantities. The consumption of pickled vegetables, in general, is not recommended in the presence of gastrointestinal problems, hypertension and kidney diseases.
How to make homemade pickled gherkins
As we saw at the beginning, one of the varieties that lends itself well to this type of preparation is the “Small Paris Cucumber”. Once the gherkins have been found, the pickle preparation involves a few simple steps. First of all, the cucumbers (about 2 kg) are washed in running water, the scraps are removed and the slices are cut. Therefore, you need to transfer the cucumbers into a bowl, add two pinches of coarse salt and mix to distribute the salt evenly. Prepared in this way, the cucumbers should be covered with a clean cloth and left to rest overnight. At this point, it is necessaryrinse the cucumbers, dab them with a cloth and distribute them in sterilized (and hermetically sealed) glass jars. Next, you need to heat the white wine vinegar (about 2 liters) over low heat, bringing it to the boiling point. While still boiling, the vinegar must be poured over the cucumbers until they are covered. Finally, you can close the jars and store them in a cool and dry place.
Contraindications of cucumber
Despite being a beneficial vegetable, cucumber has some minor side effects. In particular, it is not very digestible so its consumption is not recommended for those suffering from poor digestion. It is also rich in insoluble fiber so those with irritable bowel are best advised to avoid it. Naturally forbidden to those who are allergic.