Americans eat over 8 pounds of cucumbers every year according to a 2022 report. How many cucumbers have you eaten in the past year?
Most Americans have eaten more pickles than cucumbers in the past year. A pickle is a cucumber that has been fermented, something that is done to an estimated 50% of all cucumbers. Likely many of those pounds of cucumbers were eaten as pickles!
Cucumbers have a bit of an identity crisis – the majority of people incorrectly believe they are a vegetable. They are actually a fruit, in the same family as watermelon. Like the other fruits in the watermelon family, cucumbers are loaded with water, contain seeds, and grow from flower plants.
Cucumber’s Vitamins and Nutrients
It’s important to note that the nutritional makeup of cucumber differs from pickle. When going through the pickling process, cucumbers lose some of their health benefits and gain others.
Cucumbers are great for helping you stay hydrated – they are 96% water. It is a higher percentage of water than any other food, even the appropriately named watermelon (92% water).
With all this water, cucumbers account for just 8 calories in one cup serving, making them a great addition to salads or many other dishes.
Eating a medium cucumber provides 57% of your daily vitamin K, 10% of your daily vitamin C, 3 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. Vitamin K can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve bone health.
Skin Care Benefits of Cucumbers
At a spa, cucumbers may be placed on the skin as a way to aid in reducing wrinkles (particularly around the eyes). This can potentially help some individuals thanks to the antioxidants in cucumbers. Cucumbers also contain folic acid which can help your skin fight environmental toxins.
How to Prepare Cucumbers
There are plenty of ways to eat cucumbers. Slice them up small and add them to another dish. Slice them larger, and you can dunk them in a vegetable dip (ironic because remember, cucumbers are not vegetables).
Throw your cucumber in the blender, and they are easy to add to smoothies or as a subtle addition to water –making cucumber water.
The most nutritious way to eat your cucumbers is raw with the outside peel portion still on. This allows you to receive all the nutrients cucumber has to offer.
Pickling Cucumbers to make Pickles
Cucumbers are fermented into pickles by soaking them in brine. Normally, the brine is a mix of vinegar, salt, and spices. This causes pickles to be high in undesirable sodium.
However, the fermenting process can provide the pickles with the kind of good bacteria or probiotics that offer health benefits for gut health. Eating pickles in moderation can help you avoid consuming an abundance of sodium while still enjoying pickles’ unique taste and probiotics.