Cucumber is very important vegetable crop. It belongs to family cucurbitaceae. In Pakistan it is locally called khira. It was probably originated in ancient India. It is health nutritious, contains up to 0.65% protein, 0.01% fat and 2.2% carbohydrates. It has P, Fe, vitamins A, B1, B2, K and C in sufficient amount. It contains 95 percent water and keeps the body cool. It is consumed as salad and pickle. It also contains anti-cancerous substances and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. It is fourth most cultivated vegetable in the world. China is a leading producer while Pakistan is at 87th number with the production of 48,535 tonnes with area of 3397 ha while Punjab is giving 38,952 tonnes with 1742 hectares. Cucumber is one of the oldest cultivated crops, believed to have been originated in the Indian subcontinent.
It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. It provides just 15 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps to reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut. It is a very good source of potassium, an important intracellular electrolyte. 100 g of cucumber provides 147 mg of potassium but only 2 mg of sodium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which helps to bring a reduction in total blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.
Cucumbers contains unique anti-oxidants in moderate ratios such as ß-carotene and a-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Their total antioxidant strength, measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC value), is 214 µmol TE/100 g. Cucumber has mild diuretic property, which perhaps attributed to their free-water, potassium and low sodium contents. This helps in checking weight gain and high blood pressure.
Cucumber is rich in a number of essential vitamins. They surprisingly have a high amount of vitamin K, provides about 17 µg of this vitamin per 100 g. Vitamin-K has been found to have a potential role in bone strength by promoting osteotrophic (bone mass building) activity. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain. Vitamin K, also known as clotting vitamin. Vitamin K is essential for helping your blood clot and recommended daily amount is 90 micrograms for adults over the age of 19. A half cup serving of sliced raw cucumber contains 8.5 micrograms of vitamin K, almost 10 percent of the RDA for adults. A half-cup serving of sliced cucumber also contains 4 micrograms of folate, 55 international units of vitamin A and 1.5 milligrams of vitamin C.
Cucumber is a rich source of a number of minerals. A half-cup serving of sliced cucumber also contains 12 milligrams of phosphorus, 7 milligrams of magnesium and 8 milligrams of calcium. Cucumbers are also rich in potassium, containing 76 milligrams per half cup serving of sliced cucumbers. An electrolyte, potassium helps your body conduct electricity and is essential to smooth muscle movement and regular, healthy digestive processes. Potassium also helps to regulate the amount of sodium in your blood, helping you keep your sodium levels low and thus lowering your risk of developing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications. For adult men and women, including pregnant women, the recommended dietary allowance is 4.7 grams per day. For breastfeeding women, the RDA rises to 5.1 grams per day.
Water is essential for all bodily functions and your overall health. While there is no recommended daily intake, the general advice from experts is to consume between six and eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. More water may be required because of high temperature and humidity, or if you are participating in strenuous physical activity. A half-cup serving of raw, sliced cucumbers contains almost 50 grams of water per serving. Your daily water intake can be achieved through diet — especially eating water-rich foods such as cucumber — and through drinking fluids such as juices, teas and water. Cucumber slices over the eyes may help to reduce puffiness, thanks to the fruit’s water contents and caffeic acid. The humble, crunchy cucumber is a wonderful vegetable to beat the scorching summer heat. This vegetable is considered as a super food for its effects on overall health.
Cucumber peel is a very good source of dietary fiber. It helps to reduce constipation and indigestion and prevents stomach related diseases by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
It has healing attributes in relation to the diseases of urinary bladder and kidney. The water content in cucumber aids the function of kidney by promoting urination. Regular consumption of cucumber can also dissolve kidney stones over time.
Digestive problems like heartburn, acidity, gastritis and even ulcer can be cured by daily consumption of cucumber or cucumber juice. Cucumber contains an enzyme called erepsin which aids in the digestion of protein. Not just cucumber and its juice, but its seeds are also highly beneficial. Cucumber seeds are considered as a natural remedy to eliminate tape worm from intestinal tracts. The seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties which are effective in treatment of swellings of mucous membranes of the nose and throat.
Cucumbers are one of the best sources of potassium and contain 147 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams. This heart friendly electrolyte reduces blood pressure level in the body and reduces heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium . Cucumber contains good amount of antioxidants like B carotene, A-carotene, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds act as a scavenger against free radicals that leads to ageing and other age related diseases.
Fresh cucumber extracts are also known to reduce unwanted inflammation. It accomplishes the task by inhabiting activity of pro inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxyenase and by preventing over production of nitric oxides which leads to excessive inflammation.
Cucumber juice contains hormones. These are needed by the pancreas for producing insulin which is extremely beneficial to diabetic patients. Copper in cucumber also aids to produce healthy blood cells and improves blood circulation in the body. Cucumber is known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol. These 3 lignans are strongly connected with reducing the risk of developing several kinds of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer. When we consume these lignans, bacteria found in our digestive tract take hold of these lignans and convert them into enterolignans. These enterolignans bind on to the estrogens receptors to reduce estrogens related diseases like cancer.
Cucumber also cares for the dental health by combating bad breath. The vegetable releases phytochemical which kill the bad breath causing bacteria. Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of the mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds. The phytochemicals will kill the bacteria responsible for causing bad breath. Raw cucumber increases salivation and brings a neutralisation of acids and alkali in oral cavity. Cucumber juice can effectively treat gum diseases like pyorrhoeaand weak gums.
Cucumber can also be used to cure hangover and headache associated with it. This is because they help to rehydrate the body’s nutrients and eliminate the toxins that are present due to the intake of alcohol. Eat few cucumber slices before going to bed. The sugar, vitamin B and electrolytes contents in cucumber will reduce the intensity of hangover and headache. Cumber has mild diuretic properties owing to its high potassium and water content. It also has good amount of manganese, potassium and fibre which regulates the blood pressure and treats both high and low blood pressure. Steam produced while boiling cucumber acts as a stress reliever and calms and relaxes the senses and muscles.
Cucumber contains 95% water which hydrates and replenishes the body by eliminating toxins. The high water contents in cucumber act as a system cleanser and sweeps the waste products out of the system. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief. Cucumber juice refreshes and heals diseased gums, leaving your mouth smelling good. Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shinier. All vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits.
Cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
Cucumber also helps in neutralizing excess acidic waste produced in the body which mainly arises from the intake of animal-based foods. Cucumbers provides the sulphur needed for healthy skin cells, hair and nails and also helps in hydrating the skin. Moreover, it cleans the bloodstream of toxic wastes. Cucumbers are therefore highly recommended for patients suffering from dermatosis, eczema and psoriasis. They are applied locally by rubbing it directly on the skin or on the affected areas. Applying cucumbers on the skin regularly helps to make it soft, smooth and fresh.
This plant is extremely easy to grow and is available in various sizes, shapes and colour. The vegetable is cultivated all over the world. It has a light to dark green thin skin, moisture rich flesh and has tiny edible seeds inside. The vegetable is best harvested when it is young, tender and just short of achieving maturity. It has a slightly sweet flavour and is mainly eaten raw in salad or sandwiches or in the form of juice.
(Mujahid Ali, Dr. C.M. Ayyub, Naheed Akhtar, Dr. M. Rashid Shaheen, Rashid Hussain)