This veggie has the power to reduce more than under-eye puffiness.
When you see cucumber slices you might think of a day at the spa, but this veggie has the power to reduce more than under-eye puffiness.
I’m talking about your belly, too – at only 16 calories per cup, cucumbers are amongst the lowest calorie vegetables around. This makes them a perfect choice for anyone looking to shed pounds, but I’m excited to share their benefits for overall health as well.
This cool vegetable can also reduce your wrinkles, risk of cancer, heart disease, and more.
Not everyone is a big fan of cucumbers though, and I found that adding them to smoothies finally makes me really enjoy consuming them.
So, here are the benefits of cucumber for weight loss as well as generally to your health, and how to make them an awesome addition to smoothies.
How Cucumbers Benefit Your Health and Weight
1. Amazing nutrient density
Nutrient density refers to how much nutrition you get per calorie of a food. If a food contains a lot of calories, and not a lot of nutrients (like potato chips) then it has a low nutrient density. Cucumbers on the other hand, contain very few calories but are very high in nutrients.
This is great for two reasons:
– You can eat enough cucumbers to fill you up while staying in a caloric deficit to lose weight.
– All the extra vitamins and minerals in cucumbers will satisfy your cells, so you have more control of hunger and are less likely to binge on high-calorie foods.
This study put participants on a high-nutrient density diet and found that 80% experienced less hunger.
2. Helps you lose weight!
Thanks to their amazing nutrient density, you will get full before you will get fat from eating cucumbers. Think of your stomach like valuable real-estate… you should make sure the space is being taken up by good quality stuff, not food that will make you fat and sick.
Plus, all the extra nutrients will train your body to crave healthier foods, reducing the amount of junk you are tempted to indulge in.
The bottom line is this – if you want to shed fat, you need to be eating cucumbers. They’ll bulk up your meals (so you can reduce calories without feeling deprived) and they will help you make healthier choices in general.
3. Cucumbers Protect Your Cells
Cucumbers contain phytonutrients, which are plant substances with potential to prevent human diseases like cancer.
Cucumbers are known for their cucurbitacin, lignan, and flavonoid content – all potent anti-oxidants that protect cells from the damage of free radicals.
They also contain plenty of anti-oxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Some studies have even looked at cucumber extracts as potential cancer treatment drugs.
But here’s the thing…
Anti-oxidants are better used to protect your cells against cancer than to try and reverse it. Rather than waiting until it’s too late, try to include sources of anti-oxidants (like cucumber!) in your meals every day.
4. Keep you hydrated
One of the reasons that cucumbers are so low in calories is because they are over 95% water.
In fact, cucumbers have the highest water content of any solid food… it’s kind of like “eating” a glass of water!
Actually, it may be even better for you than “eating” a glass of water. Dr. Susan Shirreffs of Loughborough University was quoted in the media explaining that “To be properly hydrated, you need to replace fluid lost from the body with one that’s similar to the body’s natural composition” and “Watery fruit and vegetables often contain levels of minerals and sugar that mirror this, so they can hydrate you more effectively than water alone.”
5. Supports healthy digestion
Thanks to their incredibly hydrating effects, cucumbers can keep things moving along in the digestive tract.
This is because proper digestion and elimination (you know what I’m saying!) depends on having enough water in the intestines.
During digestion, your body produces around 8.5 quarts (8 litres) of gastric juices, which travel through your digestive tract helping to break down food for absorption.
By consuming enough water, you ensure your body continues to produce these gastric juices for optimal digestion.
6. Reduces inflammation
The cucurbitacins found in cucumbers have been researched for their anti-inflammatory potential, with some pretty amazing findings. In this study researchers found that it inhibits inflammation.
Since inflammation is thought to be the underlying cause of most diseases, and directly related to conditions like arthritis, packing your meals with anti-inflammatory foods like cucumber, is super important.
7. Healthier heart
Cucumbers contain lignans, which have been highly researched for their cardiovascular benefits. This is how it works behind the scenes, when the cucumber’s lignans kick into action in your body:
Pro-inflammatory substances (called free-radicals) cause damage to the artery walls, which must be repaired using cholesterol that builds up over time.
When lignans are available in your body, they neutralize free radicals before they have a chance to cause damage, which means squeaky clean arteries.
8. Improve your skin
If you are struggling with wrinkles, dry skin, acne, or any other skin conditions it can be a sign that you are lacking hydration. When the skin is properly hydrated with water is has a healthy, dewy glow that can contribute to a younger appearance.
But that’s not all…
Cucumber actually possesses some other amazing skin benefits, which may come as a total surprise!
Cucumbers have long been viewed as having a ‘cooling’ effect, and now a study has confirmed that cucumber can soothe swelling and redness. This makes them the perfect treatment for sunburns, or skin prone to chemical sensitivities.
9. Clean out toxins
Great news, cucumbers can help you detox from a night of drinking, a bad meal, or exposure to environmental toxins. Thanks to their diuretic effects, they can increase the speed at which toxins leave your body. That means cutting down your recovery time!
In fact, Khloe Kardashian has been open about using cucumbers to detox, by adding them to her water (you can get her recipe here). Drinking cucumber-based beverages is an amazing way to get a little detox into your everyday routine.
10. Stronger bones
You probably already know that calcium builds strong bones – but did you know that vitamin K is a critical part of calcium ending up in the right place? Vitamin K is found in green vegetables, like cucumber.
Vitamin K is also a cofactor to one of the main proteins in your bones. So don’t just rely on calcium to build your bone strength! Getting more vitamin K has been associated with lower rates of hip fracture.
As we age we also lose height due to changes in our spine. Good news, vitamin K has been shown to reduce height-loss too. So if you want to grow tall (and stay tall) eat your cucumbers!
11. Balance blood pressure
Cucumbers also contain a healthy dose of potassium, at 160mg per cup. If you’re wondering why that matters – potassium-rich diets are known to lower high blood pressure.
In fact, nutritionists use the DASH diet as a highly effective tool to reduce hypertension. This diet emphasizes fresh vegetables, and even lists cucumber as one of the best sources of potassium.
Since they are so high in water (over 95%, remember!) cucumbers also aid the body in eliminating excess sodium, which can contribute to higher blood pressure.
Refreshing Cucumber Smoothie Recipes
By now you probably can’t wait to start eating cucumbers every day!
I recommend drinking at least one cucumber smoothie per day as a breakfast or snack (or both!).
About the Author:
Jennifer Pelegreen is the editor at Easy Healthy Smoothie, a website about eating healthy, natural food and the health benefits provided.
Lifesum takes no responsibility for any opinions expressed here.