Cucumber (Kheera and Kakri in Hindi) is a member of the gourd family. It is cultivated for its fruit which is either used raw (in salads) and in pickles. There are many varieties of cucumber that differ in size. The variety used in salads is called slicing cucumber, and the one used for pickles is called gherkin cucumber. The creeping vine of cucumber is 1-2 meters tall, bears large leaves, thin tendrils, yellow flowers and a cylindrical fruit. The fruit is green when unripe and turns yellow on ripening. It is a native of India but grows throughout Asia and Europe.
Chemical composition: The fruit consists of Vitamin A, B, C and K, sulphur, silica, sodium chloride, potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium and phosphorus, fibre and water.
Cucumber is edible when its green and unripe. However, it becomes bitter once it ripens and turns yellow. In this form, it is not edible.
Cucumber is known to have a cooling effect and therefore beneficial during the summer. It helps maintain a low body temperature and fights heat, preventing sunburns and sun strokes.
Cucumber is also a diuretic and antacid. It removes toxins and uric acid from the body and therefore beneficial in rheumatism and gout, and treating acidity, fever, urine problems, kidney problems and blood pressure.
Because of its high fibre content, cucumber improves digestion, reduces constipation and helps lose weight.
Due to the presence of silica, cucumber helps strengthen connective tissues such as bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Cucumber contains vitamin A, which helps maintain a healthy skin. Cucumber slices, when applied on the skin and face, hydrates and nourishes the skin, prevents the skin from drying, and gives the skin a nice glow. Therefore, it is commonly used in face packs. It helps treats skin problems such as eczema, acne and sun burns.
Cucumber also maintains electrolyte balance, and reduces water retention due to presence of potassium and other minerals.
Cucumber juice is applied externally to treat swelling of the eyes. Slices of cucumber kept on eyes provide relaxation and have a cooling effect to eyes. The slices improve blood circulation and functioning of the nervous system due to the presence of minerals such as magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Contraindications: No contraindications.