Next to tomatoes, cabbage, and onions, cucumbers are the fourth most widely cultivated vegetable in the world. Cucumbers are composed of 96% water making them an ideal food for detoxification and hydration. They belong to the same botanical family as melons and squashes.

Disease/ Ailments:

Cardiovascular disease prevention
Cancer prevention

Health benefits:

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory: In addition to vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, cucumbers contain lasiciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol—three lignan phytonutrients that scavenge free-radicals, helping to improve antioxidant status, inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 2, and prevent overproduction of nitric oxide in situations where it could pose health risks. These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits lower the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Anti-cancer: Lignan phytonutritents play a role in cancer protection by adhering to the bacteria in the digestive tract and converting into enterolignans. Enterolignans have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors and have both pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. This lowers the risk of estrogen-related cancers such as breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate cancer. In addition, a group of compounds known as cucurbitancins present in cucumbers may lead to the development of new anti-cancer drugs. Several different signaling pathways required for cancer cell development and cancer cell survival can be blocked by the activity of cucurbitacins.

Good source of:

Vitamin K, C, potassium, manganese

Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:

Purchasing: Because cucumbers can be sensitive to heat, you should choose the ones displayed in the refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges and be void of yellow discoloration, puffiness, sunken-water spots, and wrinkles at their tips. Their color should be a bright medium to dark green. Note that thin-skinned cucumbers will generally have fewer seeds than those that are thick-skinned. While cucumbers are not listed as one of the top contaminated vegetables, recent research suggests that conventionally grown cucumbers may be susceptible to heavy metal contamination. Cucumbers are available year-round.

Storing: Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days. If you do not use the entire cucumber, place in a tightly sealed container to prevent the cucumber from drying out. They should be used within one or two days for maximum quality and should not be left at room temperature for too long, as this will cause them to wilt and become limp.

Enjoying:

Many people question whether they should consume the skin and seeds of cucumber. Both are the richest source of nutrients from the cucumber and should not be discarded. However, both conventional and organic cucumbers are waxed so both should be thoroughly washed while gently scrubbing with a bristle brush.
 

Resources & Recipes:

Chopped Arab salad: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Chopped-Arabic-Salad-Epicurious?columns=4&position=2/6

Cucumber dill dressing: http://anjisgoodies.com/vegan-recipes/vegan-cucumber-dill-dressing/

Cool cucumber mint soup: http://www.coloradovegan.com/?p=1179

Cucumber basil avocado gazpacho: http://www.manifestvegan.com/2012/08/cucumber-basil-avocado-gazpacho/

 

 

References:

Ghebretinsae AG, Thulin M and Barber JC. Relationships of cucumbers and melons unraveled: molecular phylogenetics of Cucumis and related genera (Benincaseae, Cucurbitaceae). Am J Bot. 2007 Jul;94(7):1256-66. 2007.

Hong SH, Choi SA, Yoon H, et al. Screening of Cucumis sativus as a new arsenic-accumulating plant and its arsenic accumulation in hydroponic culture. Environ Geochem Health. 2011 Jan;33 Suppl 1:143-9. Epub 2010 Oct 31. 2011.

Kumar D, Kumar S, Singh J, et al. Free Radical Scavenging and Analgesic Activities of Cucumis sativus L. Fruit Extract. J Young Pharm. 2010 Oct;2(4):365-8. 2010.

Lee DH, Iwanski GB, and Thoennissen NH. Cucurbitacin: ancient compound shedding new light on cancer treatment. Scientific World Journal. 2010 Mar 5;10:413-8. Review. 2010.

Milder IEJ, Arts ICW, van de Putte B et al. Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database including lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol. Br J Nutr 2005, 93:393-402. 2005.

Nema NK, Maity N, Sarkar B et al. Cucumis sativus fruit-potential antioxidant, anti-hyaluronidase, and anti-elastase agent. Arch Dermatol Res. 2011 May;303(4):247-52. Epub 2010 Dec 14. 2011.

Schrader WL, Aguiar JL, and Mayberry KS. Cucumber Production in California. Publication 8050. (2002). University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources, Davis, CA. 2002.

Sebastian P, Schaefer H, Telford IR, et al. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and melon (C. melo) have numerous wild relatives in Asia and Australia, and the sister species of melon is from Australia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 10;107(32):14269-73. Epub 2010 Jul 23. 2010.

Tang J, Meng X, Liu H et al. Antimicrobial activity of sphingolipids isolated from the stems of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Molecules. 2010 Dec 15;15(12):9288-97. 2010.

Thoennissen NH, Iwanski GB and Doan NB. Cucurbitacin B Induces Apoptosis by Inhibition of the JAK/STAT Pathway and Potentiates Antiproliferative Effects of Gemcitabine on Pancreatic Cancer Cells. Cancer Res 2009;69(14):5876–84. 2009.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42

http://www.organicfood.com.au/content_common/pg-cucumber-information.seo


About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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