Because cucumbers are mostly water, they are low in calories -- even a large cucumber contains less than 100 calories -- but they still come loaded with nutritional value. Eaten either fresh or as a pickle, cucumbers have numerous health benefits, even though they may not be full of flavor. Add them to salads or slice them in spears to eat alone or with a low-fat dip.
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Cucumbers are believed to have originated in southern Asia and India more than 10,000 years ago. The many varieties of cucumbers are all part of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with watermelons, zucchini and squash, which are often considered fruits, based on how they are prepared or eaten. Currently, Florida produces more cucumbers than anywhere else in the United States, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, notes Organicfoods.com.au. Because more than half of the body is made up of water, it is essential for normal functioning of the different systems of the body. A lack of water can lead to dehydration, which can cause fatigue, chills and muscle cramps. Water is crucial for saliva formation and cooling the body through perspiration.
Cucumbers are loaded with vitamin C. This vitamin serves as one of the many antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals, lowering the risk of various cancers and illness due to damaged cells. Vitamin C has many important functions such as aiding in collagen production and brain function, and it also helps your body process fat.
Like vitamin A, vitamin K plays a role in building bone, as well as other tissues of the body. However, vitamin K is mainly responsible for making some of the proteins the liver requires for blood clotting. This coagulation ability is important for people who suffer from bleeding disorders, reducing their chances of bleeding out after a cut or injury. Approximately half of the cucumber's vitamin K content is found in its peel, so keep the peel on for maximal health benefits.
A 100g serving, around 3.5 oz, of cucumber contains around 150mg of potassium. This mineral aids in metabolic functions and also plays a role in the development of muscle tissue. Adequate potassium is also necessary for maintaining normal electrical activity of the heart, and a diet rich in potassium protects you from high blood pressure.