Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

Even letting cucumber slices sit on your eyes for 20–30 minutes can help. Cut cucumber slices and refrigerate them for a while, then lay them on your eyes as you sit back.

7 Health Benefits of Cucumbers

This underestimated veggie is full of surprising perks.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor and counsels clients one-on-one through her virtual private practice. Cynthia is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics and has consulted for five professional sports teams, including five seasons with the New York Yankees. She is currently the nutrition consultant for UCLA’s Executive Health program. Sass is also a three-time New York Times best-selling author and Certified Plant Based Professional Cook. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook, or visit

Updated on January 8, 2020

I adore cucumbers. I snack on slices, and add them to salads and jugs of H2O. I use cucumbers to scoop up guacamole, tahini, pesto, or olive tapenade; and I marinate them with other veggies for a chilled side dish.

Some of my clients believe cucumbers are devoid of nutrients, because they’re pale in color and high in water. But the truth is, their fluid content is one of their many perks. Here are all seven ways cukes (which contain about 20 calories and 4 grams of carb) help protect and improve your health.

Cucumbers promote bone health

The top nutrient in cucumbers is vitamin K, which is key for bone health. One cup of cucumber with the peel still on supplies over 20% of the recommended daily target for vitamin K. This nutrient is required for bone formation, and several studies have linked low K levels to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk.

Cukes may boost cardiovascular health too

Cucumbers contain dozens of antioxidants, including flavonoids, which are known to protect against heart disease. The seeds may also be beneficial: In a study published last year, a small group of people with mildly elevated blood fats consumed dried cucumber seed extracts daily. After six weeks they experienced a number of favorable changes, including decreased total cholesterol, decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol, increased “good” HDL, and decreased triglycerides.

They’re hydrating

According to the USDA, one medium cucumber contains 194 grams of fluid. That translates to nearly seven ounces, just an ounce shy of a cup! Adding sliced cukes to water also adds flavor, which can help boost your water intake even more.

And great for weight management

Cucumbers offer a trio of characteristics that promote weight loss. They’re low in calories, but contain filling fiber and fluid. One medium cuke provides a quarter of the calories in a medium-sized apple. And of the 4 grams of total carb in the cucumber, one and a half are from fiber. Scooping up hummus with a medium peeled cucumber rather than 10 pita chips saves 100 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate, and takes up far more space in your stomach.

Cucumbers may help reduce cancer risk

Along with flax and sesame seeds, kale, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries, apricots, and other plant foods, cucumbers contain a natural substance called lignans. Bacteria in the digestive tract convert lignans into compounds that bind onto estrogen receptors. Some preliminary studies suggest they may protect against estrogen-related cancers, including those of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate.

Cucumbers can soothe skin

Popping a few cuke slices on puffy eyes actually makes a lot of sense. The pulp of cucumbers is primarily composed of water, vitamin C, and caffeic acid, a natural chemical that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. The combo triggers a soothing effect on skin, and reduces skin irritations and swelling. For these reasons cucumbers have long been applied topically as a home remedy for both acne and sunburn.

They help combat bad breath

One common cause of bad breath is odor produced when bacteria attack trapped food particles. The fluid in cucumbers, as well as the saliva production triggered by chewing, helps to cleanse the mouth and wash away these smelly culprits.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

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Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

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Cucumber Nutrition: Helps You Detox & Lose Weight

Cucumber nutrition - Dr. Axe

You may have always assumed that cucumbers were full of water but offered little other nutrients. Well, think again when it comes to cucumber nutrition.

What are the benefits of eating cucumbers? As you’ll learn below, they’re more than just a way to make pickles or reduce puffiness around your eyes — cucumber nutrition benefits include fighting free radical damage and inflammation.

Cukes are one of the lowest calorie veggies, yet supply powerful polyphenol compounds that can help naturally slow aging caused by oxidative stress.

Additionally, known among researchers for their anti-diabetic, lipid-lowering and antioxidant activity, cucumbers have a detoxifying, cleansing effect on the body. They’re naturally “cooling” and a great way to prevent dehydration, constipation and overheating.

Cucumber Nutrition Facts

The cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated “gourd” and member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. Cucumbers have been studied most in regard to their diuretic effects. This has earned them a reputation as a healing food in both traditional folk medicine and modern medicine.

Technically, is a cucumber a fruit or a vegetable? It’s actually a fruit, although treated more like a vegetable.

Eating cukes can add a decent amount of nutrients to your diet. According to cucumber nutrition data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a half cup of cucumbers with the peel (approximately 52 grams) has about:

  • 7.8 calories
  • 1.9 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.3 gram protein
  • 0.1 gram fat
  • 0.3 gram fiber
  • 8.5 micrograms vitamin K (11 percent DV)
  • 1.5 milligrams vitamin C (2 percent DV)
  • 6.8 milligrams magnesium (2 percent DV)
  • 76.4 milligrams potassium (2 percent DV)

Health Benefits

1. Good Source of Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Why are cucumbers good for you when it comes to boosting your immune system? Several bioactive compounds have been isolated from the nutritious cucumber, including cucurbitacins, glucosides, lignans, apigenin and flavonols like fisetin.

After investigating cucumber benefits and the potential free radical-scavenging abilities of cucumbers, researchers involved in one study reported that within cucumbers, the presence of flavonoids and tannins seems be responsible for their free radical scavenging and analgesic effects.

Compounds within cukes work to defend against cancer due to their ability to protect DNA and cells from damage due to oxidative stress. Fisetin is specifically tied to brain health and preservation of cognitive function, while cucurbitacins are known to have cancerous tumor-reducing effects.

Researchers have found that cucurbitacin, a type of triterpene compound, may induce cancerous cell death (a process known as apoptosis). The most significant mechanisms with regard to the apoptotic effects of cucurbitacins are their ability to modify activities via nuclear factors or genes and to activate anti-tumor proteins.

As such, eating plenty of high-antioxidant foods like cucumbers may help lower your risk of cancer.

2. High in Nutrients but Low in Calories

Cucumbers are one of the vegetables with the highest water content. This means cucumber nutrition offers valuable vitamins and minerals, yet is super low in calories — with only about 16 calories per cup.

Since the cucumbers are about 95 percent water, they do a good job of taking up room in your stomach. They can add volume to your meals without weighing you down.

This means you can eat more and feel satiated while still sticking to an overall healthy, low-calorie or low-carb weight loss plan if needed. Plus, cucumber nutrition can help quench thirst and prevent the desire to snack due to dehydration.

3. Helps Detoxify the Body

Cucurbitacins are a category of diverse compounds found in the plants of family Cucurbitaceae, including cucumbers. These compounds can support the digestive tract and liver.

Cucumbers are also a natural diuretic food. This means they can help the body produce more urine to carry out toxins and waste.

In the process, they’re great for reducing bloating and uncomfortable water retention — one reason to fill up on cucumbers after a night of salty food or alcohol.

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4. Hydrates and Soothes Skin

Is the skin of the cucumber good for you? Yes!

Plan on eating the whole cucumber whenever possible, since the skin and seeds contain important compounds. Cucumber skin is a good source of vitamin A that can aid in skin health, plus cukes and their skin have diuretic effects that can reduce puffiness.

Fresh cucumber juice has been used to naturally nourish damaged, dry or sensitive skin for centuries. According to some studies, cucumber slices or seeds applied directly to the skin gives a soothing and cooling effect against skin irritations and reduces swelling and redness. They’ve even been used to naturally treat acne, scars and other blemishes.

Cucumbers also have the power to relax and alleviate pain, blotchiness and swelling following a sunburn, providing sunburn relief. The fruit is considered a “refrigerant, haemostatic and tonic, useful in treating hyperdipsia or thermoplegia.”

In other words, cucumbers help stop bleeding, reduce heat buildup associated with inflammation, quench your thirst, relieve dehydration and fight “sunstroke” all at the same time.

5. Helps Depuff Swollen Eyes

What do cucumbers do for your eyes? Due to their anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects, cucumbers can help decrease swelling and puffiness around the eyes.

They can also help keep the skin around the eyes hydrated and, according to some people, make them appear more awake and less tired.

Can you sleep with cucumbers on your eyes? It’s unlikely that they wouldn’t fall off all night long, but you can give it a try.

Even letting cucumber slices sit on your eyes for 20–30 minutes can help. Cut cucumber slices and refrigerate them for a while, then lay them on your eyes as you sit back.

Some people also use cold cucumber and grind it to make a paste with lavender oil or chamomile oil and some raw honey.

Cucumber history - Dr. Axe

6. Helps Improve Metabolic/Heart Health

Cucurbitacins found in cucumbers have been researched for their cytotoxic, hepatoprotective, cardiovascular and anti-diabetic effects. Lignans found in cucumbers have well-documented immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial for fighting cardiovascular disease.

Studies investigating the effects of consuming ligans from plant foods have found beneficial associations with C-reactive protein levels, a lowering effect on total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and improved blood pressure levels.

Cucumbers also provide important minerals that help maintain a healthy heart, including potassium and magnesium.

Potassium is linked to healthier blood pressure levels since it helps control fluids in the body. Therefore, low potassium intake from fruits and veggies is often correlated with poorer heart health.

Magnesium-rich foods are also beneficial for blood pressure in addition to general nerve functioning, heartbeat regulation, fluid balance, better blood sugar stability and higher energy expenditure.

7. Improves Digestion and Relieves Constipation

The seeds of a cucumber are known for having a healing, heat-reducing effect on the body, and they’re often used to prevent and naturally relieve constipation in traditional forms of medicine like Ayurveda.

Many people suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it, but cucumber nutrition is a source of magnesium and other electrolytes that can help hydrate the gut and digestive lining, which keeps you more “regular.”

Since they’re a great vegetable for juicing or making smoothies, you can try combining cucumbers with other hydrating foods — like melon, lime, avocado, celery and fennel — to create a natural anti-bloating drink.

8. Helps Alkalize the Blood

Cucumber nutrition includes being one of the top alkaline foods that help balance the body’s pH level and counteract the effects of an acidic diet. Limiting consumption of acid-forming foods and eating more alkaline-forming foods instead is beneficial for protecting your body from diseases that thrive in an acidic entrainment.

According to a report published in the Journal of Environmental Public Health:

Life on earth depends on appropriate pH levels in and around living organisms and cells. Human life requires a tightly controlled pH level in the serum of about 7. It is generally accepted that agricultural humans today have a diet poor in magnesium and potassium as well as … This results in a diet that may induce metabolic acidosis which is mismatched to the genetically determined nutritional requirements.

A properly balanced pH level is also thought to decrease leptin levels, the main hormone connected to hunger and appetite control, as well as inflammation. Since the body is able to easily digest nutrients in liquid form, this is one reason why cucumbers are a popular ingredient in green alkalizing juices.

9. Supports Strong Bones

With 22 percent of your daily vitamin K in every cup of cucumbers, eating more cukes is a good way to help maintain bone mineral density. Vitamin K (in the form of K2) is a fat-soluble vitamin that works with other essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium to preserve strong bones.

Vitamin K also supports a healthy metabolism, nutrient absorption, aids in heart health, helps with blood clotting, supports neurological function and can help protect against cancer. Yet vitamin K deficiency is common among adults and children due to a diet low in green vegetables, a low-cholesterol diet, medication use and poor absorption of nutrients.

10. Helps Prevent or Treat Headaches

Traditionally, cucumbers have been used as a natural headache remedy and somewhat of a pain reducer since they fight inflammation and swelling. Headaches or migraines can be triggered by many things, including dehydration, stress, fatigue, low blood sugar and nutritional deficiencies.

Many studies show that foods high in water and magnesium like cucumbers combat headaches by balancing fluids in the body and preventing dehydration.

Types of Cucumbers

There are dozens of different cucumber varieties grown around the world, but three main varieties of are most widely available today: those used for slicing and eating raw, pickling cucumbers (kirbys) and seedless cucumbers.

Within the Cucurbitaceae plant group, some of the more common cucumber varieties include:

  • Gherkin
  • English
  • Armenian
  • Diva
  • Green Burpless
  • Boston Pickling
  • Lemon
  • Marketmore
  • Persian
  • Suyo Long


The Sanskrit synonym of cucumber is sushitalam, which means “very cooling.” According to Ayurveda, cucumbers have cool, light, astringent, sweet and slightly bitter properties.

The juice from cucumbers has long been used as a natural electrolyte booster before energy drinks like vitamin water existed. Since it has antibacterial properties and is an anti-inflammatory food, the cucumber has been used as a home remedy for acne or to reduce redness and puffiness on the skin.

Cucumber vs. Zucchini vs. Spinach

Cucumber and zucchini are in the same plant family and have a similar appearance, but the two are different in terms of texture and nutritional value. Cucumbers (gourds) have a waxy, bumpy exterior, while zucchinis have a rough and dry exterior.

Cucumbers are typically juicy, cool and crisp, while zucchini is a bit starchier and heartier. Another difference is that the flowers of the cucumber plant are not edible while the flowers of the zucchini plant are edible.

Cucumbers are a bit lower in calories and carbohydrates than zucchini and provide a bit less vitamin C, vitamin B6 and certain phytonutrients. However, cucumber seeds and peels do have some antioxidants, such as flavonoids, lignans and triterpenes.

How do cucumbers compare to leafy greens, such as spinach, in terms of nutrient content? There are more than a dozen different types of flavonoid antioxidants alone that are present in spinach.

Spinach nutrition is packed with nutrients, including:

  • fiber
  • vitamin K
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin A
  • manganese
  • zinc
  • folate
  • iron
  • and selenium

While cucumbers also supply some of the nutrients, they don’t pack the punch that most greens do.

Both spinach and cucumbers are low in carbs and great vegetables to have if you’re eating a low-carb diet. However, unlike cucumbers, which are typically eaten raw or fermented, sautéing, boiling or cooking spinach for just one minute can improve its nutrient absorbability and bring out its taste.

How to Grow

When it comes to choosing the best cukes, you have some options: Look for both regular cucumbers and smaller, bumpier “kirbys.” Kirbys are the kind most often used to make pickles.

  • When shopping, look for cucumbers that are bright to dark green, firm and don’t have any soft, waterlogged spots.
  • Whenever possible try to find organic cukes. Cucumber nutrition benefits are most available when you buy organic and unwaxed cucumbers (especially since you want to eat the skin). Because cucumbers are so water-dense, if they’re grown in soil contaminated with pesticides, they’ll likely hold on to a lot of chemicals, which wind up getting passed on to you.
  • Even organic cucumbers can have wax, but these are made of less harmful substances. The only wax that’s allowed on organically grown cucumbers isn’t synthetic and is free of all chemical contaminants.
  • When storing cucumbers, keep in mind they do best when kept in very cold temperatures. Keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them, but try to have them within three to five days.
  • You can either peel the skin if you’d like, especially if they’ve been waxed, or leave it on and give the skin a good scrub.
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Tips for Growing Cucumbers:

  • While it’s easy to find cukes in most stores, growing them is easy and cost-effective.
  • Believe it or not, cucumbers are a tropical fruit/vegetable that thrive when the weather is hot. They also do well in humid climates where water is plentiful.
  • Plan to grow cucumbers during times of the year when there’s warmer weather and rain. They are sensitive to frost and shouldn’t be planted until the soil temperatures is in the 70-degree range. Wait at least two weeks after the last frost date to plant cucumbers.
  • Cucumber plants grow in two forms: vining (more popular) and bush. Vines scramble along the ground or clamber up trellises, while bush types form a plant lower to the ground. Bush types are suited to containers and small gardens, but vining types produce more crops.
  • Plant cucumber seedlings 36 to 60 inches apart, depending on variety. For vines that you plan to have grow upward, space plants one foot apart.
  • You can help to keep the plants warm and moist by using pine straw, wheat straw, chopped leaves or your favorite organic mulch shortly after planting the seedlings.


Unlike most vegetables, cucumbers actually taste better when eaten raw. Because they’re so high in water, they don’t usually come out well when cooked and tend to just turn into a soggy mess.

If plain old cucumbers get boring, try making fermented pickles using some vinegar. Fermentation is what gives the cucumber its distinctively tangy, sour and salty flavor once it’s made into a pickle, plus it contains live microorganisms that have beneficial effects.

You can combine two regular cucumbers and toss with three tablespoons of rice vinegar, two tablespoons chopped herbs of your choice (like dill), and a pinch of sugar and salt.

Is it good to eat cucumber every day? There’s no downside to doing so, considering the low calorie count and other benefits.

However, while pickles have some great nutritional components, such as fiber, vitamin K and even probiotics in some cases, you’ll still want to stick with one to two per day due to the salt content.

The longer you let pickles sit, the stronger taste they’ll develop, but even just 30 minutes allows them to absorb some flavor. If you enjoy the flavor of dill, try this dill pickle recipe that uses a brine of water, vinegar, salt, and dill weed or dill oil.

Here are other healthy cucumber recipes to get you started:

  • Secret Cucumber Detox Soup Recipe
  • Creamy Cucumber Avocado Soup Recipe
  • Super Hydrator Juice Recipe
  • Cucumber Salad Recipe
  • CucumberTomato Salad Recipe

Risks and Side Effects

Cucumbers seem to be pretty harmless and very rarely cause allergies. Even cucumber extract, which is used in some lab settings, has been shown to be well-tolerated and unlikely to cause side effects.

As mentioned earlier, it’s best to buy organic (ideally unwaxed) cukes whenever you can to avoid high levels of chemicals.

Another thing to consider is the potential for contamination if you make your own fermented pickles. Complex microbiota are responsible for the changes observed during cucumber fermentation, and it’s possible that if your equipment or jar is contaminated with bacteria, you can become sick once eating them.

Use sterile equipment whenever fermenting veggies, and buy organic produce to further limit this risk.

Due to their diuretic effects, should you not eat cucumber at night? This probably won’t be an issue unless you eat large amounts.

While cukes can increase urination, the effect is usually subtle and for most people won’t interfere with sleep.


  • Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a widely cultivated “gourd” and a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. There are many different varieties of cucumbers, but they are typically split into three types: slicing, pickling and seedless.
  • Eating cukes can add a decent amount of nutrients to your diet. Cucumbers contain very few calories but supply powerful polyphenol compounds. They are known among researchers for their diuretic, anti-diabetic, lipid-lowering, antioxidant, detoxifying and cleansing effects on the body.
  • Cucumber nutrition benefits include helping balance the body’s pH, improving digestion, treating bloating and constipation, aiding in metabolic and heart health, preventing headaches, hydrating the skin, and depuffing swollen eyes.

Popular Nutrition Posts

9 Health Benefits of Cucumbers

Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

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Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 percent) water, which means eating them on a hot summer day can help you stay hydrated.

However, there’s reason to eat cucumbers all year long. With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.

Plus, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.

9 Reasons to Eat Cucumbers

1. Protect Your Brain

Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline,1 fisetin has been found to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. 2

2. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. 3 They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties. According to the George Mateljan Foundation: 4

“Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins.”

3. Fight Inflammation

Cucumbers may help to “cool” the inflammatory response in your body, and animal studies suggest that cucumber extract helps reduce unwanted inflammation, in part by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes (including cyclo-oxygenase 2, or COX-2). 5

4. Antioxidant Properties

Cucumbers contain numerous antioxidants, including the well-known vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol, 6 which provide additional benefits.

For instance, quercetin is an antioxidant that many believe prevents histamine release—making quercetin-rich foods “natural antihistamines.” Kaempferol, meanwhile, may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

5. Freshen Your Breath

Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath. 7

6. Manage Stress

Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.

7. Support Your Digestive Health

Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber. If you struggle with acid reflux, you should know that drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH; it’s possible that water-rich cucumbers may have a similar effect.

Cucumber skins contain insoluble fiber, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.

8. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Cucumbers are very low in calories, yet they make a filling snack (one cup of sliced cucumber contains just 16 calories). 8 The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves into a gel-like texture in your gut, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber-rich foods may help with weight control.

9. Support Heart Health

Cucumbers contain potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure levels. A proper balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function properly.

As an electrolyte, potassium is a positive charged ion that must maintain a certain concentration (about 30 times higher inside than outside your cells) in order to carry out its functions, which includes interacting with sodium to help control nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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