Fiber and vitamin K? Yes please.
Picture a glass of water filled with slices of cucumber—is there anything more refreshing? But when it comes to eating cucumbers, do they actually have any nutrition benefits? Or is chowing down on cucumbers basically the same as eating iceberg lettuce?
Good news: “Like any vegetable, cucumbers have health benefits, and even if they may not be as well-known as say, kale, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there,” says Jessica Perez, R.D.
Below, all the cucumber benefits you’ve probably never heard of before. Happy snacking!
1. Cucumbers are super nutritious.
Here’s the nutrition info for one cup of cucumbers:
- Calories: 16
- Protein: 1 g
- Fat: 0 g (0 g saturated)
- Fiber: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 2 mg
They also pack a lot of important nutrients:
- Vitamin C: 14 percent of the reference daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 62 percent of the RDI
- Magnesium: 10 percent of the RDI
- Potassium: 13 percent of the RDI
- Manganese: 12 percent of the RDI
2. They contain antioxidants and micronutrients.
Scientists have been hard at work debunking the idea that cucumbers are basically salad filler. According to Perez, they contain types of antioxidants like beta carotene and flavonoids, which help fight inflammation and protect cells from chronic disease.
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3. Cucumbers may help keep your blood pressure in check.
High blood pressure or hypertension can leave you at risk for developing an aneurysm, stroke, or heart attack. Since cucumbers are high in the electrolyte potassium, they may reduce sodium-induced water retention and thus lower blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
But, of course, cucumbers on their own won’t mitigate the damage of an entire bag of chips a day, so if you do have high blood pressure, make sure you also work on reducing harmful habits—like eating excessive saturated fat- and cholesterol-laden foods—in addition to focusing on your cucumber intake.
4. They can keep your digestion going strong.
Basically all the calories in cucumbers come from fiber. According to Perez, fiber helps improve gut health and bowel movement regularity, is beneficial in managing certain conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol, and will even fill you up to prevent you from overeating.
5. Cucumbers keep you hydrated.
Staying hydrated is crucial for carrying nutrients to your cells, preventing constipation, and flushing out bacteria, to name just a few. Perez says eating cucumbers can help you reach your recommended daily fluid intake (which varies for everyone depending on things like the temperature outside, how much you’re exercising and sweating, etc.).
The amount of water you actually ingest from cucumbers depends on your serving size, but since they’re made of 95 percent water, you can be sure a cup of cucumbers will contribute significantly to your water needs, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., author of Read It Before You Eat It.
6. They keep your gut happy.
As mentioned, cucumbers boast a lot of fiber, which is great for supporting a healthy gut. But when you eat them in pickle form, they’re really superstars in this category. (Pickles are made of cucumbers plus the right mix of pickling spices, salt, and vinegar. )
“The fermentation process makes them perfect fuel for your gut,” says Taub-Dix. Increasing the “good bacteria” in your gut is associated with a host of benefits like better immunity and functional bowels.
7. They may help promote a healthy weight.
There’s not a single food or exercise that’s singlehandedly responsible for weight loss or maintenance, but cucumbers are certainly a great addition to an otherwise healthy lifestyle that’s rich in produce, whole grains, healthy fat, and lean protein. “They can help with weight loss in the sense that if you fill up more on them, you’ll be less likely to eat junk foods since they can be a very filling food,” says Perez.
8. Cucumbers may help regulate blood sugar.
Similar to how they can help you maintain a healthy weight, cucumbers are clutch at keeping blood sugar in check. Perez, again, notes that because they’re rich in water, they expand in your stomach and thus reduce cravings for sugary snacks, which is a great way to regulate insulin levels.
9. They could help strengthen your bones.
Calcium isn’t the only nutrient that keeps your bones strong—think about opting for vitamin K-rich cucumbers more often as well. A study from the journal PLos Medicine found that postmenopausal women who took five milligrams of vitamin K every day for two years experienced 50 percent fewer fractures than the control group. Because vitamin K helps clot blood, however, talk to your doctor before any sudden increase in cucumber intake if you’re taking any blood thinners.
10. They’re super versatile in cooking.
Cucumbers have a neutral flavor, so they work really well in a number of dishes, or as a simple snack. Ready to add more cucumber to your diet? Try the following recipes that incorporate cucumbers.
Healthy Asian Crab Avocado Spiralized Cucumber Salad
This filling salad blends decadent seafood and sweet plum for an unforgettable meal.
Per serving: 241 calories, 11 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 529 mg sodium, 9 g sugar, 5 g fiber, 20 g protein
Cold Cucumber Soup
Cucumbers thrive best in their natural habitat, i.e.: nearly ice-cold, with fragrant seasonings like garlic and basil and healthy fats like almonds to help absorb the nutrients.
Per serving: 49 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 159 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein
Cucumber Sushi Rolls
Don’t let all that white rice weigh you down (and make you sleepy!). Instead, stay energized with a cucumber-based sushi roll that still satisfies every take-out craving.
Per serving: 207 calories, 5.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 37 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein
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