Cucumber is a member of the gourd family Cucurbitaceae that first appeared in ancient India over 4000 years ago and quickly spread through ancient Greece, Rome, Europe, China and the rest of the world. They were used both as a food source and for medicinal remedies, treating everything from bad eyesight to scorpion bites. Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, cucumbers belong to the same family as melons and squashes.
There are three main types of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and burpless. All types are full of antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory compounds called cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids, which have been the subject of many active studies aiming to determine the extent of their cancer-fighting properties.
Fresh cucumber has been known to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes. Cucumbers are highly alkaline, made up of almost 95 percent water and are full of vitamins and minerals, found mostly in the skin. They’re naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fats and cholesterol, and the seeds contain a healthy amount of calcium and other minerals.
Cucumbers are a wonderfully healthy addition to smoothies and juices and are a good base to use as a soup, or in a salad. You can enjoy them cooked or raw, but the peel and the seeds are the most nutrient-rich, so ensure you eat the whole thing.