In his work on Prophetic Medicine, the great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the health benefits of cucumbers. He quoted the Prophetic Hadith relating that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) used to eat qiththa (cucumber) with rutab (fresh dates). [Tirmidhi At'ima 37]
Ibn al-Qayyim said the cucumber has the following health benefits:
- Quenches thirst
- Calms an inflamed stomach
- Beneficial for pains of the bladder
- Its seeds are diuretic
He also said that cucumbers should be eaten with something like dates, raisins or honey, as these will rectify its negative effects on the stomach.
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) belong to the same family as watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin, and other types of squash. There are main two varieties of cucumber; those that are grown to be eaten fresh (slicing cucumbers), and those that are cultivated to make pickles, such as gherkins.
The flesh of the cucumber is composed of about 95% of water, but it also contains Vitamin C and caffeic acid, which is a naturally occurring compound shown to be a cancer inhibitor. The skin of the cucumber is rich in fiber and contains a variety of beneficial minerals including silica, potassium and magnesium.
The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
The high water content of cucumber makes it naturally hydrating, and cucumbers are commonly used for various types of skin problems, including swelling under the eyes and sunburn.
The two compounds present in cucumbers; ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and caffeic acid, prevent water retention, which may explain why cucumbers applied topically are often helpful for swollen eyes, burns and dermatitis.
People who took part in the study DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), found that adding foods high in potassium, magnesium and fiber, such as cucumbers, reduced high blood pressure to healthier levels.
Tips on Using Cucumbers
- Choose cucumbers that are firm, rounded at the edges and that are a bright to dark green color.
- Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker.
- Cucumbers should be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days.
- Many cucumbers have a waxed skin, and this should be peeled before eating so as not to consume the harmful chemicals present in the wax. Better still; try to purchase cucumbers with an unwaxed skin, so that the nutrient-rich skin can also be eaten.
References for further reading
- Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 1997 Apr 17;336(16):1117-24 1997.
- Seaborn CD, Nielsen FH. Dietary silicon and arginine affect mineral element composition of rat femur and vertebra. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 Dec;89(3):239-50 2002.