Cucumbers are incredibly popular as non-starchy vegetables, and it’s no surprise why! These crunchy and juicy delights have a mild flavor that complements many dishes. Not only are they low in calories and carbs, but they are also packed with fiber and essential nutrients.
If you’re looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle and accelerate your weight loss journey, cucumbers can be your ultimate ally. In this article, we will explore the nutrition and health benefits of cucumbers. Additionally, we will provide you with valuable shopping tips and delicious cucumber recipes to incorporate this refreshing veggie into your diet. Keep reading to discover the wonders of cucumbers!
Cucumber Nutrition Facts
One medium, unpeeled raw cucumber has about 30 calories, two grams of fiber and zero grams of fat. Eating that cuke gives you about 10-percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of immunity-boosting vitamin C and 12-percent of your RDA for potassium, a mineral that helps regulate your body’s sodium levels. You also get valuable portions of vitamin A and vitamin K.
Many people peel cucumbers before eating them, but the highest concentration of nutrients, especially fiber, is in and directly under the skin. Try to eat as much of it as you can.
Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Cucumbers are about 95 percent water. Eating them helps you stay hydrated and feel full without loading you up with extra calories. The fluids and fiber in cucumbers also keep your digestive system working smoothly.
Cucurbitacins are compounds found in cucumbers and they have been linked to a reduced risk of several different types of cancer, according to a report in the International Journal of Health Sciences. The research was conducted on cancer cells in labs, but the scientists noted that more research is needed to determine the impact of consuming cucumbers on the disease.
You get the most health benefits from cucumbers by eating them, but they can be applied to your skin to help soothe sunburned or damaged skin. Many studies have found that cucumbers work as an anti-inflammatory, which is why they are commonly used in spa treatments to reduce puffiness and bags around the eyes.
Types of Cucumbers
The cucumbers you typically find in supermarkets are smooth, dark green and eight to 10 inches long. They are known as slicing or salad cucumbers. You may see seedless or “burp-less” varieties, which some people find easier to digest.
Many stores today carry “English” or “European” cucumbers. They are longer, slimmer and lighter in color than the standard types. The flesh is a little drier and sweeter. English cucumbers have thinner, more easily bruised skin, so they are sold packaged in shrink-wrapped plastic rather than loose in a bin.
You may see pickling cucumbers in farmers markets and occasionally in grocery stores. Those cukes, sometimes called kirbys, tend to be no more than seven inches long and they usually have bumps on their green skin.
Picklers are drier and have fewer seeds than the slicers. You can eat pickling cucumbers fresh and in fact, many people prefer them.
Shopping and Storing Cucumbers
Choose cucumbers that are firm, evenly colored, and free of soft or yellow spots. Press your fingers gently on the ends of a cucumber. If it gives too much, look for a firmer one.
The skin on the standard variety of cucumbers is naturally waxy, which helps keep the flesh moist inside and protects the outside from bacteria. The wax is often washed off after the cukes are harvested, so produce distributors add a synthetic wax to keep them fresher longer. Be sure to rinse off cucumbers thoroughly when you’re ready to eat them.
Take cucumbers out of the plastic bags from the supermarket and store them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Keep them dry. If you cut up cukes for meal prep, use them within 24 hours or they will begin to get mushy.
Healthy Cucumber Recipes and Ideas
Cucumbers are best eaten raw, though some people like to lightly sauté them to soften their texture and sweeten the flavor a little. Cukes are a classic ingredient in mixed salads. You also can cut them into spears or coins to enjoy with a yogurt dip, hummus or your favorite healthy dip recipe. Thinly sliced cucumbers with dill and our Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette makes a simple yet flavorful side dish.
To give you more fresh ideas on how to put this superfood to work for you, we gathered 20 Crisp and Cool Cucumber Recipes for Summer. These are a few of our favorites:
1. Blackened Tilapia with Cucumber Avocado Topping
Juicy cucumbers and creamy avocado chunks cool the flavor of peppery fish.
Get the Blackened Tilapia and Cucumber Avocado Topping recipe.
Skip the bread and use sturdy slices of cucumber to hold deli turkey or ham with a creamy cheese spread.
Get the Deli Cucumber Sandwich recipe.
We season cherry tomatoes, onions and cucumbers with fresh mint, lemon juice, black pepper and honey to give the salad a sweet and zesty flavor.
Get the Tomato, Cucumber and Mint Mediterranean Salad recipe.
Here’s a savory twist on the classic cucumber salad that’s flavored with soy sauce, rice vinegar and a hint of heat from red pepper flakes.
Get the Sesame Soy Cucumber Salad recipe.
This simple dish makes an elegant, yet healthy appetizer or a high-protein lunch.
Get the Crab-Stuffed Cucumber Cups recipe.