3 amazing benefits of cucumbers
The cucumber, botanically known as Cucumba sativus, is a time-honored companion for greens and tomatoes. But cucumbers do much, much more than merely fill out a salad.
Compounds in cucumber have been the subject of recent research for their ability to support cognitive function, protect the skin, and more. Let’s look at three compelling reasons to enjoy “cukes.”
Move over, strawberries! Fisetin in cucumbers may help reduce Alzheimer’s impact
The good news is that cucumbers contain fisetin. Scientists believe that this flavonoid can help maintain cognitive function in people with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. A potent antioxidant, fisetin not only inhibits the oxidation of fats and scavenges harmful free radicals but also increases intracellular levels of glutathione, the body’s universal antioxidant and detoxifier.
While strawberries typically receive most of the credit for being a dietary source of fisetin, it’s time for them to share the glory: cucumbers also have their share of fisetin. In an extensive scientific review published in Frontiers in Bioscience, the authors “drilled down” on fisetin research - and concluded that the compound is both neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing. Considering the general failure of pharmaceutical drugs (so far) to alleviate this heartbreaking disease, this research is a bright spot. While more study is needed, it certainly can’t hurt to snack on cucumbers - especially for older individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s.
Pamper and protect your complexion with cucumbers
More good news regarding cucumbers - they can be used to hydrate, cleanse, soothe and protect delicate facial skin. Cucumbers are rich in antioxidant compounds known as cucurbitacins, allowing them to scavenge free radicals and protect against oxidative damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. This damage, known as photoaging, can eventually result in unwanted wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet, and age spots. Cucumbers also have anti-inflammatory qualities that allow them to combat redness, swelling, and blotchiness.
As if that weren’t impressive enough, the authors of a scientific review published in the Archives of Dermatological Research noted that cucumbers inhibit an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid - a moisturizing, lubricating polysaccharide - in the skin. Cucumbers also inhibit an enzyme that breaks down elastin, another “good guy” that gives skin its look of youthful elasticity. The authors concluded that cucumbers could be utilized as potential anti-wrinkle agents in cosmetic products.
Natural beauty experts advise combining chopped cucumber with other skin-friendly ingredients - such as yogurt and honey - for a soothing facial mask. You can also cleanse and tone your skin with cucumber water or apply chilled slices directly to your skin. Incidentally, many people swear by placing cucumber slices directly over their (closed) eyes as an effective solution for undereye swelling and puffiness.
Cucumbers promote healthy weight
Cucumbers have all the “right stuff” to support a weight loss journey. A cup of fresh, crisp, juicy cucumbers contains only 16 calories, making them an excellent choice for nibbling. In addition, cucumbers are composed of 96 percent water, making them a liquid-rich, hydrating food that can contribute to a sense of fullness and satisfaction.
And, if you opt to eat your cucumbers unpeeled, you’ll also ramp up your intake of beneficial dietary fiber. Research has shown that diets high in fiber make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Finally, cucumbers can promote efficient elimination, easing bloat and helping to flush waste more rapidly from the body. So, while cucumbers aren’t a “magic bullet” for weight loss, their satisfying texture and low caloric investment make them a wise dietary choice.
Elevate everyday dishes with cucumber
Cucumbers, of course, are happy to lend their mild flavor and crunch to mixed salads and veggie trays. But why not feed your “cuke” cravings by combining cucumbers with vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, water, and dill in a tangy, refreshing cucumber salad?
You can also employ cucumbers in your favorite green smoothie or add them to dips, salsa, and cold soups such as gazpacho. Or use cucumber chunks to accent and balance the taste of a fruit salad with watermelon, honeydew, and strawberries.
You can even get a little crazy and sprinkle your cucumbers with chili powder, garlic powder, ginger, or sesame seeds - we won’t tell anyone!
There is no doubt: cucumbers make a fabulous addition to your healthy diet.
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