The green and refreshing cucumber is the fourth most widely cultivated vegetable in the world. Cucumbers are popular ingredients in meat and vegetable salads, they are often added to cold gazpacho soups, and they taste wonderful when dipped in hummus. Even though their health benefits do not usually receive much attention, it turns out they are exceptionally good for your body in some ways that you may not expect. Read on to discover the eleven most surprising and important reasons why adding more cucumber to your diet will improve and extend your life.
1) They lower your risk of developing certain forms of cancer:
Cucumbers are an excellent source of lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. These three polyphenols are called lignans, and they have been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of cancers of the uterus, ovaries, prostate, and breast. Cucumbers also contain cucurbitacins, and there is some extremely promising research suggesting that these cucurbitacins make it more difficult for cancer cells to develop and reproduce.
2) They can improve your resistance to disease:
Cucumbers have particularly nutritious skins, so make sure that you do not cut off any of the skin when you add cucumber slices to a salad. In particular, it is important to note that the skin of the cucumber is a good source of vitamin C, with one serving of cucumber slices providing you with around 10% of your recommended daily intake. Given the fact that the relationship between a high intake of vitamin C and a healthy immune system is extremely well documented, eating plenty of cucumbers should help to improve your body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections.
3) They have anti-inflammatory properties:
Much like anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, cucumbers help to inhibit the activity of certain enzymes that encourage excessive and painful inflammation. Cucumbers also contain silica, which has been proven to strengthen your connective tissues. This strengthening of tissue can help to boost joint health and may reduce some of the pain associated with conditions such as arthritis.
4) They help to maintain healthy bones.
A cup of cucumber slices provides you with 21% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K. A diet that is high in vitamin K helps to make sure that your body properly absorbs calcium, which is vital for strong and healthy bones. Studies on vitamin K have shown that people with a higher intake of vitamin K are less likely to develop brittle bones or suffer from fractures, and it is currently thought that vitamin K helps to protect you from certain cells that can break down bone.
5) They improve cardiovascular health:
It has been discovered that cucumbers contain compounds called sterols, which controlled studies show can help to reduce levels of LDL (i.e. ‘bad’) cholesterol. People with lower cholesterol levels are less likely to develop heart disease or suffer from heart attacks. Cucumbers also contain potassium, which can help to regulate your heartbeat and keep your blood pressure under control.
6) They encourage the removal of toxins from your body:
The mild diuretic influence of cucumbers encourages your body to rid itself of toxins (which are excreted in your urine).
7) They can help to freshen your breath:
Cucumbers are a traditional remedy for bad breath. When you want to freshen your breath, try holding a slice of cucumber between your tongue and the roof of your mouth for up to a minute. It is speculated that the phytochemicals found in cucumbers can help to destroy some of the bacteria that lingers in your mouth and causes bad breath.
8) They can help you to lose weight:
Lightly salted or seasoned cucumber slices make a perfect snack if you are trying to shed some excess pounds. Cucumbers are exceptionally low in calories (with one serving providing you with just sixteen calories), and they contain absolutely no fat. The fiber in cucumbers will also help to satisfy you when you have hunger pangs, reducing your likelihood of breaking your diet to reach for less healthy snacks.
9) They are a useful addition to your skincare routine:
Placing cucumber slices over your eyes when they are puffy and tired can work wonders for your appearance and comfort. The anti-inflammatory properties of cucumber slices help to reduce puffiness, making you look energetic and well-rested. Cucumber juice can also be used as an ingredient in a tightening facial mask.
10) They can help to rehydrate your body:
Cucumbers have a high water content, and so snacking on cucumber slices can help you to feel better on a hot summer day. They help to replenish water lost that is lost through sweating, thereby reducing your risk of heat exhaustion.
11) They help your blood to clot properly:
As mentioned above, cucumbers are a good source of vitamin K. Your body needs vitamin K because it is vital for the production of an amino acid called glutamic acid. Glutamic acid helps to cause open wounds to clot by making your blood stick to the nearby tissue. If your blood does not clot properly, a wound will simply continue to bleed, and this will put your life in danger if your injury is substantial. Vitamin K is so important for proper clotting that some patients are given vitamin K before major surgery (to reduce their risk of hemorrhaging during or after their procedure).
As is obvious from the above health benefits, cucumbers are an excellent addition to your diet if you want to improve your intake of fruits and vegetables. When choosing cucumbers, make sure that the ones you purchase are a rich, dark green and feel firm to the touch.
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