• Low in calories
Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as melons, pumpkins, and winter
squash, but they are not as nutritious. One cup of sliced cucumber provides
only about 6 mg of vitamin C and smaller amounts of folate and potassium.
The skin contains some beta carotene, but cucumbers are often peeled,
especially if they've been sprayed with wax to retard spoilage.
Because cucumbers are approximately 95 percent water, they are very low in
calories; a cup of slices contains fewer than 15 calories. Folk healers
often recommend cucumbers as a natural diuretic, but any increased urination
is probably due to their water content rather than an inherent substance.
In North America cucumbers are used mostly as a salad ingredient or as
pickles. Commercially, they are used mainly to make pickles and relishes;
cucumber juice contains some alpha hydroxy acids, which improve the
effectiveness of facial masks, and other cosmetic products.
In many countries cucumbers are an important staple; worldwide, they rank
ninth among vegetable crops with multiple uses. In India and Central Europe,
for example, they are diced and mixed with herbs and yogurt to serve as a
salad. They are also stuffed and baked or serve as a cooked side dish, as
well as used in vinaigrettes, tartar sauces, and cold soups.