Cucumbers: health benefits & nutrition facts

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There are hundreds of varieties of cucumber, and they come in dozens of colors, but the edible types are classified as being for either slicing or pickling, according to Cornell University’s Growing Guide. Slicing cucumbers are cultivated to be eaten fresh, while pickling cucumbers are intended for the brine jar. Slicing cucumbers are usually larger and thicker-skinned than pickling ones.
In the United States, commonly planted varieties of slicing cucumber include Dasher, Conquistador, Slicemaster, Victory, Comet, Burpee Hybrid and Sprint, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website. Commonly planted varieties of pickling cucumber include Royal, Calypso, Pioneer, Bounty, Regal, Duke and Blitz.
While most people think of cucumbers as vegetables, they are actually a fruit. They contain seeds and grow from the ovaries of flowering plants. Cucumbers are members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae, which also includes squashes and melons. The most common type of slicing cucumber found in a grocery store is the garden cucumber, Cucumis sativus, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.
Cucumbers are good sources of phytonutrients (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties) such flavonoids, lignans and triterpenes, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.
“We should definitely seek out foods that are nutrient-rich, using the positive approach of what to put on your plate vs. what to keep off,” said Angela Lemond, a Plano, Texas-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The peel and seeds are the most nutrient-dense parts of the cucumber. They contain fiber and beta-carotene. “Beta carotene is an antioxidant that helps with immunity, skin, eye and the prevention of cancer,” said Lemond. A study published in the Pakistan Journal of Nutrition found that cucumber seeds were a good source of minerals, and contained calcium.
“Cucumbers are naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat and cholesterol,” said Megan Ware, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Orlando, Florida. There are just 16 calories in a cup of cucumber with its peel (15 without). You will get about 4 percent of your daily potassium, 3 percent of your daily fiber and 4 percent of your daily vitamin C.