Cucumbers

Nutrition Information

When we think of cucumbers, we may first imagine a juicy pickle served alongside sandwiches or thinly sliced cucumbers used as cooling eye patches. It is composed of 95% water, which lends to its crisp exterior and succulent interior, perfect for a hot summer’s day [1]. Cucumbers are also very low in calories, with a 50g serving containing only 8kcal and 0.3g of dietary fiber [1]. They contain trace amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins K, C, and A – all essential minerals and vitamins to maintain body homeostasis. A recent study has looked into the anti-diabetic potential of polysaccharides in the gourd family, and found that they may aid in lowering blood glucose levels and stimulate beta-cell regeneration (cells that secrete insulin) [2]. Since ancient times, they have described for their therapeutic and anti-inflammatory potentials, including their soothing effects against skin irritations and swelling [3].

Fun Facts

Although cucumbers are culturally referred to as a vegetable, they are technically a fruit because they contain seeds. They are fruits of the Cucumis sativus species and are members of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd, family [4]. In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, members of this family have been utilized to treat various skin problems and promote anti-aging [3]. Over on the other side in Chinese folk medicine, leaves, stems, and roots have been used as anti-diarrheal, and detoxicant agents [3]. Although cucumbers naturally have seeds, many varieties like the English cucumber have been bred to produce underdeveloped seeds that are hardly noticeable [5]. Depending on your purpose (i.e. pickling, salad topping), you can opt to choose cucumbers with different characteristics like size, shape, seed density, and thickness of skin!

IMG_2289

Lush cucumber vines!

Storage Tips

  • Choose firm, well-shaped cucumbers with dark green colors. Try to find cucumbers that are heavy for their size.
  • Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

Recipes

Fennel Cucumber Salsa

Cucumber and black-eyed pea salad

Honey, cucumber, and mint cooler

Minty watermelon-cucumber salad

Creamy cucumber and potato salad

References

[1] USDA Research Service. (2018). National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. Basic Report: 11205, Cucumber, raw. Retrieved from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11205?

[2] Simpson, R. and Morris, G.A. (2014). The Anti-Diabetic Potential of Polysaccharides Extracted from Members of the Cucurbit Family: A Review. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, 3 (2), pp. 106-114.

[3] Mukherjee, P.K., Nema, N.K., Maity, N., Sarkar, B.K. (2012). Phytochemical and Therapeutic Potential of Cucumber. Fitoterapia, 84, pp. 227-236.

[1] Bender, D.A. (2009). A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. eISBN: 9780191726682

[5] Philips, B. (2016). Seedless Cucumbers Are a Different Pickle. Michigan State University Extension. Website accessed 07/06/2018: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/seedless_cucumbers_are_a_different_pickle

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