Every now and then, health beverage trends pop up and take the world by storm.
Remember when everyone was talking about the wonders of juiced kale? After that, we all tried juicing a much less glamorous vegetable: celery.
Both kale and celery have plenty of scientifically-backed health benefits, and these juice trends actually helped many people improve their wellbeing. But in retrospect, we can admit that our expectations might have been a little too high. Nobody’s life turned around completely just because they switched to drinking green juices every day.
The health drink trend of the moment is cucumber juice. Some treat it as an all-powerful elixir, while others loudly insist that it’s a waste of time.
Let’s take a look at what cucumber juice really can do for you. Should you add it to your daily diet?
Cucumber Juice Benefits (with a Few Caveats)
Imagine you’re at the spa. You’re finally relaxed, your skin is clear and healthy, and you might just have cucumber slices covering your eyes.
Of course, placing cucumber slices on your skin and eyes isn’t the best way to reap the benefits this vegetable has to offer. But in general, we associate cucumber with self-care and wellness, and there’s plenty of reasons for that.
Here are just some of the ways that eating (or drinking) cucumbers can make us healthier:
1. Reduced Blood Pressure
Stress and exhaustion can cause major blood pressure problems. This is frightening and unpleasant in and of itself, but it can also come with a host of related medical issues.
Adding cucumber juice to your diet can be a great way to prevent cardiovascular issues relating to blood pressure.
For one thing, cucumber is very low on sodium, which means that you can eat (and drink) it in high quantities without worrying about your heart health. But even more importantly, cucumbers can help keep your potassium levels up.
Potassium lowers our blood pressure and has a number of other health benefits, such as aiding the central nervous system, improving normal heart contractions, and lowering the risk of stroke.
2. Improved Kidney Health
Another way that potassium benefits us is by decreasing water retention. People with kidney issues and bad circulation should consider adding cucumbers to their diet in some form.
Drinking cucumber juice is an excellent way to stay hydrated on a warm day. Another option is cucumber water, which has many impressive health benefits too.
If you’re not sure about the difference, it’s simple:
- Cucumber juice is made by juicing cucumbers, ideally unpeeled ones. It is a rich green liquid, and many people flavor it with lemon or ginger.
- Cucumber water is just water with added cucumber slices. You refrigerate it for around four hours and generally remove the cucumbers before drinking it. This drink is clear, and the taste of cucumbers is quite mild.
Both options are great for preventing dehydration and improving renal and urinary health. Consuming cucumbers in any form can help prevent the formation of smaller kidney stones.
3. Bone and Muscle Health
As mentioned before, the high potassium levels contained in cucumbers are good for the bones and muscles.
These wonderful vegetables are also rich in vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption and reduces blood clotting. The vitamin D content is good for the bones too.
4. Antioxidant Effects
This vegetable is rich in lignans, triterpenes, and flavonoids, and it contains impressively high vitamin C and beta-carotene levels as well. These are all antioxidants, and they have some impressive anti-aging effects.
Science shows that cucumber has a mild analgesic effect (Kumar et al, 2010) and it helps reduce the number of free radicals in the body. This may help improve brain health, as well as the rejuvenation of our connective tissues.
Fascinatingly, research has also shown that cucumbers can help prevent cancer and aid in anti-cancer treatments alongside chemotherapy (Alghasham 2013).
Additionally, antioxidants can improve our mental health and immune levels.
The antioxidant effect of cucumbers is also beneficial for our skin and hair. This is why cucumber is such a widespread ingredient in all-natural cosmetics products.
5. Weight Loss
Cucumbers are a popular option for weight loss regimens.
This vegetable has a very low calorie count and it is relatively nutritious in spite of that. It is the perfect choice for when you want a snack even though you’re not quite hungry.
As for cucumber juice, it’s refreshing and you can use it to remove sweetened drinks from your diet.
Experts say that “Drinking large amounts of sugary beverages can increase the risk of gaining weight and developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and gout. Sugary beverage intake is significantly associated with weight gain and obesity. Women who drink one or more sugary beverages daily have almost twice the risk of developing diabetes as those who drink less than one sugary beverage daily.” (Boston Public Health Commission, n.d.)
Taking that into consideration, we immediately see why it’s better to stick to unsweetened cucumber juice.
On the other hand, we should talk about the famous cucumber diet that promises to help you lose 15 pounds within two weeks. The idea is to only eat (and drink) cucumbers for two weeks straight, plus some eggs, nuts, and other sources of protein.
Unsurprisingly, this extreme diet isn’t a good idea. It may help with short-term weight loss, considering the low number of calories, but it won’t help you stay in good shape permanently.
There simply aren’t enough nutrients contained in cucumbers to provide for your needs. You’ll get considerably better results if you stick to a balanced diet and develop reliably good eating habits.
What About Digestion?
You may have heard that cucumbers are great for the digestive system. Some people eat them to improve their gastrointestinal health and improve regularity.
This is generally a good idea – but there are two things we should keep in mind.
First, some people experience bloating when they consume cucumber peels. If that’s the case for you, you might want to try a juice recipe without the peels.
On the other hand, peeling the cucumbers before consumption removes much of the most important nutrients, including beta carotene, so you might want to look into other vegetable juices instead.
The other thing to keep in mind is that cucumbers are good for the digestive system because of their high fiber content. Fiber is contained in every part of the cucumber (though the peels are extra rich in this nutrient).
But juicing breaks down those long fiber molecules, making them less useful. So while you do get some fiber out of consuming juiced cucumbers (or smoothies, for that matter), you’ll get much better results if you stick to eating cucumber in salads or simply as a chilled snack.
The Bottom Line
Cucumber juice is great for improving your bone and muscle health, your blood pressure, and it can help you look and feel younger. But it doesn’t have magic weight-loss effects and you can’t use it to replace a balanced diet.
Cucumber water is like the juice version’s wimpier cousin. It has some positive effects but its main draw is that it tastes milder and you can drink plenty of it to stay hydrated.
Admittedly, munching on cucumber sticks or slices can get boring. But cucumber slices have all the same benefits as cucumber juice, plus they’re better for your digestion. So if you’re in doubt, get slicing and dicing!