Cucumber: properties, nutritional values, benefits and uses in cooking and beauty

Cucumber: properties, nutritional values, benefits and uses in cooking and beauty

Cucumber is purifying, refreshing, has very few calories, but various properties that are useful for health. In a low-calorie diet, cucumbers are perfect as they have a high satiety index (a lot of volume and few calories). Furthermore, the high concentration of water stimulates diuresis and the low sodium intake helps fight water retention. Finally, thanks to its very low sugar content, cucumber is also a food suitable for those suffering from diabetes. It also contains many minerals to fill up on energy, such as magnesium and folic acid.

With its flavor it enriches fresh salads throughout the summer, offering our body all its good properties and helps to keep the figure.

In the kitchen, there are so many recipes with cucumber, you just have to indulge yourself: blended in smoothies, cut into small pieces in large salads or alone as a fresh and light snack, ideal for those who want to cool off and are on a diet. Try it also with yogurt to make a light tzaziki sauce.

Cucumber is also a real panacea when used externally as it is an effective natural remedy against dark circles. In fact, two slices of cucumber can be applied to the eyes and left to act for 15 minutes in order to reduce swelling, thanks to the contraction of the capillaries. Also useful is a beauty mask for the face, made with chopped cucumber, olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice: a guaranteed soft and luminous effect.

Cucumber – what is it

The cucumber is a tasty and increasingly appreciated vegetable of the Cucurbitaceae family, the same one that gives birth to typically summer products, such as watermelon and melon.

Cucumis sativus L. is the species of the annual plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family called cucumber. It is characterized by a stem with the surface covered by a fine down, rapidly developing, climbing, sometimes prostrate and creeping, which can reach up to about 1.5 m in length.

Curled filaments, called cirri, originate from the stem, which serve the plant to anchor itself to supports that allow it to climb upwards. The plant has a tap root that grows deep into the ground and then branches out. The leaves are dark green on the upper side and silver green on the underside. They have a five-lobed shape, wide and long, with a pendulous habit.

Cucumbers come in two types: long cucumbers and gherkins (for pickling). They have very similar organoleptic properties, but are used in different ways. The gherkins, in fact, are prepared and are found on the market above all pickled.

Cucumber: nutritional properties

Cucumber is particularly rich in water, vitamins, folate, mineral salts and fiber.

Furthermore, it has a very low calorie intake, just 15 calories per 100 g.

The composition of the cucumber seems to have been created on purpose to perform certain functions such as purifying, diuretic, refreshing, but also slimming. This virtue is due to the presence of tartaric acid.

In fact, this antioxidant organic acid manages to moderate the absorption of carbohydrates which, when they are in excess, are transformed into adipose tissue.

Furthermore, tartaric acid combines with any type of carbohydrate, making it non-absorbable by the body and eliminated through the faeces.

That’s why dieticians recommend the consumption of cucumber in diets. But with a caveat: if you want to introduce foods rich in tartaric acid into your diet, you need to make sure that you eat them raw.

In fact, tartaric acid is sensitive to heat and is destroyed by high temperatures. However, one shouldn’t have too many illusions, this acid doesn’t work miracles, at most it can help.

Cucumber: nutritional values ​​(100 g)

Sodium (mg)13
Potassium (mg)140
Calcium (mg)16
Phosphorus (mg)17
Zinco (mg)0.09
Ferro (mg)0.3
Tiamina – B1 (mg)0.02
Riboflavin – B2 (mg)0.03
Niacin – B3 (mg)0.60
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.04
Total folate (µg)9
Vitamin E (mg)0.07
Vitamin A (µg)tracks
Vitamin C (mg)11

Data source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

Cucumber: chemical composition (100 g)

Water (g)96.5
Energy (kcal)15
Protein (g)0.7
Lipids (g)0.5
Cholesterol (mg)0
Available carbohydrates (g)1.8
Dietary Fiber (g)0.6

Data source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

Cucumber: calories

How many calories are in cucumber? And can anyone on a diet eat it? The first answer is very few and the second is yes. With just 16 Kcal per 100 g of product, cucumber is one of the least caloric vegetables on the market stalls, with very little sugar and lots of water, about 96 g per 100 g.

This means that not only is the cucumber refreshing and moisturizing but that it does not make you fat and can be easily included in a low-calorie diet, always taking care to balance the nutrients well and therefore the overall caloric intake.

The presence of water then helps to increase the sense of satiety and therefore to block hunger attacks. But it also promotes digestion and counteracts constipation.

However, even if it doesn’t make you fat, it’s always good not to eat it in large quantities but consume it in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Cucumber: health benefits

Cucumbers have an excellent detoxifying effect on the body, as they refresh and purify, helping the liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines to function at their best.

Eating it reduces stomach pain, acidity and stomach heaviness, as it counteracts inflammation of the intestinal mucosa. Also those who suffer from joint pain and arthritis in general have relief from it. This is also thanks to the presence, among the many minerals, of silicon, with anti-inflammatory properties.

The bioactive components of cucumber bring a number of benefits to the body. Here’s what they are.

Cucumber: diuretic and detoxifying

Cucumber is rich in water and dietary fiber and for this reason it helps to prevent water retention problems and to more easily eliminate any toxins accumulated in the body. Furthermore, the cucumber is mildly laxative and helps to reduce the phenomena of abdominal swelling.

But the diuretic and detoxifying properties are added to those produced by tartaric acid, which prevent the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing their transformation into fat.

Fights fatigue and regulates blood pressure

The presence in cucumbers of potassium and a good cocktail of other mineral salts and vitamins makes this vegetable an excellent food for fighting tiredness, just like a real supplement but completely natural.

In fact, the low sodium characteristic of cucumbers and the richness of potassium help the body not to retain liquids and therefore to maintain normal blood pressure.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Cucumbers are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. In particular, they have a good amount of vitamin C, which has the strong ability to fight oxidative phenomena at the cellular level caused by free radicals.

The bioactive compounds of the cucumber, eaten raw, also give this vegetable anti-inflammatory properties.

Cucumber for strong bones

The phytocompounds present in these vegetables also intervene in the correct functionality of some proteins that form and keep our bones strong, such as osteocalcin. This is synthesized by osteoblasts, i.e. bone cells, and is involved in regulating the incorporation of calcium phosphate into the bones.

Hence, cucumbers also play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Anti-glycemic and digestive

Thanks to the effect produced by tartaric acid, cucumber allows you to limit the glycemic peak deriving from the intake of simple sugars. It therefore exerts a beneficial effect in blood sugar control and, consequently, does not stress organs such as the liver and pancreas during the process of digesting food.

Prevention of gout and kidney stones

It is effective in the prevention of gout, a disease involving the accumulation of uric acid in the blood.

Furthermore, this vegetable is valuable against kidney stones, a disorder that afflicts an average of 8% of the population and is characterized by the formation of agglomerates of mineral salts in the kidneys due to urine saturation.

Cucumber: Uses in cooking

In America the cucumber is not widely used, certainly not as much as in other European countries such as Germany or Greece.

In Central Europe, the smaller varieties are used to be pickled and flavored with dill or mustard seeds. The cucumber is also used for the preparation of fresh sauces in combination with cured meats and eggs.

It is an indispensable ingredient for the preparation of two traditional dishes: Andalusian gazpacho and Tzatziki sauce of Greek origin.

Cucumbers, in Asian cuisine, are also used cooked. They are prepared with other vegetables or as an ingredient in other dishes. Usually cooking is rapid, in order to maintain the crunchiness of the pulp and reduce the bitter taste.

In America, the most used variety is the long one for fresh consumption. Cucumber is usually added in slices to salads or eaten in dips with other vegetables.

But you can also use it to fill rolls, wraps and sandwiches or to enrich cold pasta. Or you can prepare a cold soup based on cucumber and feta cheese or test yourself with a homemade sushi and use the cucumber for tasty Uramaki, combining it with rice and tuna.

Are you looking for easy, fresh and light ideas to enjoy this vegetable? Try the best recipes with the…