Cucumbers are scientifically known as Cucumis sativus and they’re a member of the melon family, just like watermelon, cantaloupe and squash. Cucumbers originated in hot climates like India hundreds of years ago and were introduced into North America by the first European settlers. These long, green fruits have been popular ever since. 1 4
“Cukes” come in two varieties. Slicing cucumbers are larger, longer and best eaten raw. Pickling cucumbers are smaller, have thicker skins and usually pickled due to a more bitter taste. 1
Cucumber Health Uses and Health Benefits
Cucumbers are high in water content—as much as 95 percent—however they make up their content in phytonutrients that include flavonoids, triterpenes and lignans. Cukes are a high source of Vitamin K, molybdenum, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorous, and silica which is good for building nails. 1
Cucumbers also have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and contribute to the fight against free radicals. In addition to these cucumber health benefits, they also contain Vitamins B1 and C as well as beta-carotene and manganese. 2 3
It’s well known that cucumber for skin is an excellent natural remedy. They have a cool, soothing effect on the skin which makes them ideal for topical application in treating burns, scrapes and even aging wrinkles. 4
Cucumber uses and health benefits include:
- Overweight - Overweight is a term for weight gain but it doesn’t mean obesity in that unhealthy way. Many people struggle to maintain a proper weight and work at balancing their diet with exercise. Cucumbers are very low in calories (less than 100 in a large one) but high in fiber. They can give a “full” feeling without putting on the pounds.
- Wrinkles - Wrinkles are caused by loosening of the skin where it’s thin and does not have enough fatty tissue to retain moisture. Wrinkles usually start around the eyes and on the forehead, often associated with signs of aging. A cucumber paste is highly effective as a moisturizing agent and has great anti-inflammatory action on the skin.
- Cheilitis - This condition is an inflammation of the lips and can cause reddish, sore cracking at the corners of the mouth. The lips become very dry, sore and can end up bleeding. Cucumber slices or paste make a cooling and re-moisturizing treatment for cheilitis.
- Sunburn - Sunburn is the result of prolonged exposure of bare skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Sunburn can be mild and irritating or it can be severe with long-lasting damage to the skin and even underlying tissues. Use cucumber for skin treatment of sunburns to help them heal naturally.
- Acidity - Acid reflux or GERD is common to many people. It’s when stomach acid or contents enter the esophagus and create a burning sensation. Because cucumbers are alkaline, they neutralize the stomach acid and relieve the discomfort.
- Sun Sensitivity - Sun sensitivity is different from sunburn. No damage has occurred but the skin is tender when exposed to sunlight. It may be a natural predisposition in some or be brought on by using phototoxic prescriptions. A cucumber paste works like a sunscreen to reduce sensitivity.
Cucumber Side Effects and Precautions
There are a few cucumber side effects and precautions to be taken. Primarily, cucumbers contain small spots that send a bitter taste. This is due to tetracyclic triterpenoids that are an extremely toxic cucurbitacin compound. Safe to say, a lot of cucumbers would have to be eaten to present a risk. 5
The cucurbitacin in cucumbers can act as a diuretic which can cause fluid and electrolyte loss in over consumption. This could cause a loss of balance and dehydration. 5
Cucumber side effects also include giving stomach gas and causing burping. The cure is to buy “burpless” cukes.