Foodpairing with Purpose® for Cucumbers
Cucumbers are tasty, easy to eat, and a great part of many different salads and other dishes. However, did you know that a cucumber is technically a fruit? It’s true! Cucumbers are a botanical fruit, but they’re considered a vegetable under the culinary classification system[i].
Whatever you consider them to be, they’re a great choice for many reasons and pair with many different foods to provide great health benefits.
The History of Cucumbers
Cucumber originated in India and have been cultivated for at least 3000 years in Western Asia. They then spread to Greece, Italy, France, and England[ii] before Christopher Columbus brought cucumbers to Haiti in 1494. French explorer Jacques Cartier found cucumbers being grown on the site of what is now the city of Montreal, Canada in 1535[iii].
Cucumbers now grow on most continents and are very popular with people all around the world. Today, China produces around 80% of the world's cucumbers[iv].
Cucumber Health Benefits
In addition to being tasty and refreshing, there are many health benefits to eating cucumbers. One of the first things to note is that cucumbers are low in calories. In fact, the average medium-sized unpeeled cucumber only contains about 30 calories[v]. This means you can eat them without being worried about your weight.
Not only that, but they fill you up without bringing in lots of calories. This means you’re likely to eat less if you’re filling up on cucumbers, and that can help you control your weight[vi].
However, while they don’t contain many calories, they certainly have a lot of nutrients. They contain vitamin K and vitamin A, along with fiber, magnesium, potassium, and manganese[vii]. Plus, they’re about 95% water[viii], so they’re great for staying hydrated! This makes them a popular food during the summer, but getting enough water is important all year round.
Their fiber content makes them great for your health. Eating more fiber can help you lose weight while also reducing your risk of diabetes and improving gut health. Fiber also helps detox your body by eliminating harmful toxins from your gastrointestinal tract[ix].
It’s important to note that most of the nutrients in a cucumber are in the peel and the seeds, so you should try to eat your cucumbers unpeeled whenever possible. For example, the peel of a cucumber contains beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that can help with skin and eye care as well as immunity[x].
The antioxidant content of cucumbers is important. Eating antioxidants can help eliminate harmful free radicals from your body. The accumulation of free radicals has been to several chronic illnesses as well as well as cancer and heart, lung, and autoimmune diseases[xi].
In addition, since cucumbers are high in potassium, they can reduce sodium-induced water retention, and this can help lower blood pressure[xii].
Cucumber Food Pairing
There are a lot of great ways to eat cucumbers. Here are some food pairings that are great for your body.
Garlic + cucumber
o Eating garlic and cucumber together is very helpful for dieters, since this combination keeps you feeling full. A meal containing the two can also inhibit the conversion of sugars into fat in the body and help lower cholesterol[xiii].
Zucchini + cucumber
o Not only are there many vitamins in these two foods, but they also contain many antioxidants[xiv].
Lotus seed + cucumber
o This combination can be helpful for those who have diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia while also helping with obesity and constipation[xv].
Tofu + cucumber
Honey + cucumber
o Honey and cucumber together can help improve digest and relieve constipation. That’s because not only are cucumbers are rich in dietary fiber, but honey has a moistening effect on the intestines and improve gut microflora[xviii].
Foods that Do Not Pair with Cucumbers
While there are a lot of great ways to eat cucumber, at Foodpairing with Purpose we also want to make sure to list any foods that shouldn’t be eaten together. Here are a few things that you may not want to eat with cucumbers.
Cabbage + cucumber
o Cucumbers will destroy vitamin C in cabbage, so you won’t be getting all the nutrients you should
Peaches + cucumber
o Much like with cabbage, cucumbers can negatively affect the body’s absorption of vitamin C, of which peaches have a lot
Spinach + cucumber
o This is a similar situation to above, as cucumbers can make it difficult for your body to absorb the vitamin C in spinach.
Rape + cucumber
o Eating cucumbers can make it tough for your body to absorb the vitamin C in rape and reduce its nutritional value
Tomato + cucumber
o Again, tomatoes contain vitamin C, which can be difficult to absorb if eaten with cucumbers.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Cucumbers?
While there are a lot of great ways to eat cucumbers, those who have liver disease, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, hypertension should avoid pickled cucumbers. That’s because they are very high in sodium[xix].
References: [i] EUFIC. Retrieved 2022, August 26. Is a Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable and Why? https://www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/is-a-cucumber-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable-and-why [ii] The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2022, August 26. Cucumber . https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/cucumber [iii] Kitchen Project. Retrieved 2022, August 26. The History of Cucumbers. https://www.kitchenproject.com/history/Salads_Lettuce/Cucumbers/CucumberHistory.htm [iv] FAOSTAT of the United Nations. Retrieved 2022, August 26. 2019 Production of cucumbers and gherkins; from pick lists: World regions/Production Quantity". https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QCL [v] MedicineNet. Retrieved 2022, August 26. Are Cucumbers Good for Weight Loss? https://www.medicinenet.com/are_cucumbers_good_for_weight_loss/article.htm [vi] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 29. Why Cucumbers Are Good for You https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-why-cucumbers-are-good-for-you [vii] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 26. Cucumber. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/cucumber-health-benefits [viii] MyFoodData. Retrieved 2022, August 29. 17 Vegetables Highest in Water. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/vegetables-high-in-water.php [ix] Eating Well. Retrieved 2022, August 29. 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating More Fiber https://www.eatingwell.com/article/287742/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-eating-more-fiber/ [x] NDTV. Retrieved 2022, August 29. Stop! Cucumber Skin Is Super Nutritious, Don't Peel It. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/stop-cucumber-skin-is-super-nutritious-dont-peel-it-1770739 [xi] Healthline. Retrieved 2022, August 29. 7 Health Benefits of Eating Cucumber. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-of-cucumber [xii] Women’s Health. Retrieved 2022, August 29. 10 Cucumber Health Benefits You Shouldn’t Ignore. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a28351053/health-benefits-of-cucumbers/ [xiii] Eating Well. Retrieved 2022, August 30. 10 Foods That Lower Cholesterol. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/288593/10-foods-that-lower-cholesterol/ [xiv] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 30. Health Benefits of Zucchini https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-zucchini [xv] Healthline. Retrieved 2022, August 30. 6 Interesting Makhana Benefits. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/makhana-benefits [xvi] Netmeds. Retrieved 2022, August 30. 6 ways cucumber can keep you cool this summer. https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/6-ways-cucumber-can-keep-you-cool-this-summer [xvii] Real Simple. Retrieved 2022, August 30. 4 Delicious Foods You Didn't Know Were Anti-Inflammatory https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/healthy-meals/surprising-anti-inflammatory-diet-foods [xviii] NIH. Retrieved 2022, August 30. Effect of dietary honey on intestinal microflora and toxicity of mycotoxins in mice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1431562/ [xix] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 29. Are There Health Benefits to Eating Pickles? https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-pickles