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Cucumber is a fruit or vegetable with the botanical name Cucumis sativus belonging to the family of plants known as “gourd family” or “Cucurbitaceae”. Its plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical fruits used in cooking vegetables. There are three major variety of this fruit which is then developed into different cultivars, these are the slicing, pickling and burpless. These varieties also vary in length and sizes and it is commonly used in the preparation of salad and other vegetable containing foods. Cucumber can also be eaten raw after appropriate washing.
Cucumber is largely cultivated and consumed all around the world and is said to be the fourth most cultivated vegetable in the world. Due to the attention garnered around this vegetable and its potential in maintaining the overall health, it is often referred to as a super food. This fruit is mostly cultivated in both the Northern and Southern part of Nigeria and consumed by a large number of populations in this country. Hence, it is important to examine or keep abreast of the health benefits obtained from this vegetable or what makes it that important to be “super”?
Cucumbers contain a chemical substance known as ” fisetin”. Fisetin is an anti-inflammatory flavonol which play a vital role in the maintaining the health of the brain. Also, this extends to the protection of nerve cells, decline in age related disease, prevention of memory loss and impairment in learning and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Scientific Research and as reported by the George Masteljan Foundation, different signaling pathway required for the development and survival of cancer cells can be obstructed by the activity of Cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins are phytonutrients in cucumber that possess anti-cancer properties and responsible for the bitter taste of cucumbers. Also, cucumber contains polyphenolic constituents called lignans and example of these are the lariciresinol, secoisoolariciresinol and pinoresinol, all of which are aid the reduction in risk of different forms of cancer such as uterine, breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.
Cucumbers contain chemical substances that help to prevent the actions of some enzymes which induce inflammation. Animal studies have revealed that extracts of cucumber helps in the reduction and prevention of inflammation.
Cucumber is a very rich source of silica. Silica is a substance which has been researched to be involved in the support of connective tissues thereby promoting the health of joints. Also, the presence of a significant amount of vitamins A, B1, B6, C, D, folate, calcium and potassium makes cucumber a good source for lowering the amount of uric acids (responsible for arthritis pain), thereby, relieving gout and arthritis pain.
Bad breath occurs due to the persistent habitation of some bacteria which have accustomed themselves to the mouth and making it their place of abode. However, cucumber contains phytochemicals which can kill bacteria inhabiting the walls of the mouth. This may be done by holding a slice of cucumber against the roof of the mouth (palate) with the tongue for about 30 seconds thereby allowing the phytochemicals do its job appropriately.
Cucumber is a natural diuretic and aid in the hydration of the body (especially supply of electrolytes) which helps to reduce the pressure in the blood arteries. Cucumber also contain large amount of fibers, magnesium and potassium. These are very good and effective in the treatment as well as regulation of low and high blood pressure. According to the research studies by Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), it has been reported that consumption of cucumber with a low diet of starch and lean proteins can help in reducing blood pressure by about 5.5 points. Also, you can extract the juice of cucumber, then mix with juice obtained from other vegetables such as carrots and lemons. This can be taken two to three times in a day and can regulate the blood pressure.
Cucumber has a low calorie and large amount of water content. This makes it to be a good food for those “watching” their weight or wants to control their weight. Rather than starving themselves in the name of weight loss, it may be done by eating healthy diet rich in cucumber. Also, the large amount of water it contains is rich in fibers that aid digestion.
Cucumber is very rich in various vitamins such as some of the vitamin B complexes – vitamin B1, B5, and B7 (also called Biotin). These vitamins help to ease the emotional state of anxiety and replenish the damages which results from stress (read more about stress here).
The islets of Langerhans located at the pancreas are the sites of the body responsible for the production of insulin (substance that helps to lower blood sugar level by converting the excess sugar into energy that is useful for the body). Cucumber contains a special hormone which helps to trigger the production of insulin. In addition, cucumber itself has low sugar content, thereby making it a very good diet for diabetic. Diabetic patient are therefore encouraged, according to the American Diabetic Association, to take cucumber daily either in the juicy or raw form.
Cucumbers are rich source of antioxidants – substances that help to reduce oxidation in the body. Cucumbers are also responsible for tackling free radicals that damage the body in one way or the other and may lead to degenerative diseases. Examples of antioxidants in cucumber are beta carotene, luteolin, quercertin and other forms of flavonoids.
Cucumber is a very good fruit which affects the overall health of a person. People have prepared, consumed and enjoy cucumber in many different ways, whether in fermented forms, raw in vinegar, juice extract, or eaten as it is. Its water rich content makes it very good for hydration and in helping to flush out different toxins from the body. It is cheap, affordable and available in major markets. You are encouraged to make a healthy diet a part of your daily living.
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written by Alfred