Fresh, juicy, with a crunchy texture, cucumber is the king of salads when, in summer, the days get hot. The cucumber, although originally from the East, is nowadays known and used almost everywhere, just think that it is grown in more than 80 countries around the world ... This vegetable is the fruit of the Cucumis sativus plant and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, the same as the pumpkin, melon and courgette. It has an elongated shape and a dark green and lumpy skin, but inside the pulp is soft and refreshing. Cucumber can be eaten raw, for example added to salads or even transformed into a rehydrating juice, or processed into the famous pickled gherkins. Here, today, we will discuss the properties of raw cucumber.
Cucumber is low in calories but high in water. This vegetable contains vitamins, such as vitamins of group B, A, K and vitamin C, mineral salts, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and selenium, but also antioxidants, such as carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which give it anti-aging properties (Kumar et al, J Young Pharm, 2010 - USDA Database).
Cucumber in hot weather
Drinking cucumber juice, or even eating cucumbers, is a great help on hot days to recover lost fluids and minerals (El Saadony et al, Foods, 2020). If you want a refreshing drink, try blending a cucumber with a glass of water and the juice of half a lemon. Add a few mint leaves for decoration and drink this rehydrating delight!
Cucumber for heart health
Cucumber is not only a food capable of rehydrating the body, but it is also a valuable source of properties for the health of the cardiovascular system. In fact, this vegetable has antidiabetic properties, showing a hypoglycemic effect and helping to protect the body from the damage that oxidative stress, a consequence of diabetes, could cause (Heidari et al, Bioimpacts, 2016). Not only that, cucumber helps reduce blood fats (Mukherjee et al, Phytotherapy, 2013). In fact, cucumber contains tartaric acid, which inhibits the synthesis of lipids from carbohydrates taken with food (Butnariu et al, Handbook of Food Chemistry, 2015).
Detox cucumber against stagnation and cellulite
Cucumber has a great purifying and diuretic power, stimulating the processes that lead to the removal of toxins. Cucumber promotes the action of the kidneys, counteracting the accumulation of uric acids and the formation of stones, water retention and cellulite (Mukherjee et al, Phytotherapy, 2013). It is worth noting to underline the presence, in the cucumber, of azulene. The active ingredient azulene has anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties and protects the microcirculation, resulting in a valid help in case of cellulite (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food).
Cucumber for the skin
Cucumber juice is an excellent cosmetic for the skin, it nourishes and protects it. In fact, cucumber soothes and refreshes irritated or sunburnt skin. In addition to this, this vegetable reduces puffiness, such as bags under the eyes, and counteracts wrinkles (Mukherjee et al, Phytotherapy, 2013). The anti-aging action of cucumber on the skin is due to its vitamin C content and also to its ability to inhibit the elastase and hyaluronidase enzymes, responsible for degrading elastin and hyaluronic acid (Nema et al, Arch Dermatol Res , 2011). Therefore, cucumber helps the skin to preserve its elasticity, softness and hydration. To combat bags under the eyes, you can cut two thick slices of cucumber and apply them on the eyes for about a quarter of an hour. Instead, if you want an anti-aging and soothing skin mask, blend half a cucumber and apply the mixture on a clean face for a quarter of an hour, then rinse and continue with your treatment.
Cucumber and pain
Cucumber has analgesic properties and helps relieve joint pain (Kumar et al, J Young Pharm, 2010).
Cucumber, beware of intolerances
Cucumber, as we have seen, is the perfect food for these summer months, it is moisturizing and antioxidant, but unfortunately not everyone is able to digest it. What happens in these cases? Some people may be intolerant to cucumber and show great difficulty in digesting this vegetable due to the cellulose of which cucumber is particularly rich.