Do you know where pickles come from? Those briny salty snacks may be delicious on a burger, but nutritionally speaking, they don’t even begin to compare to their cucumber origins. Popular in a number of dishes, in soups, salads, and sandwiches, cucumbers offer a number of health benefits. This might be part of why cucumbers, even though they originated all the way in Asia, have become such a hit in fine dining at American restaurants. If you’re curious about what makes the common cucumber so great for your health, read on for a few good reasons to skip the pickle.
One thing about pickles is that they are very salty. Salt contains sodium, which in high levels can cause health problems in the body. It dehydrates the body, which leads to water retention and bloating in an attempt to stay hydrated. Unlike the pickles they may become, cucumbers are very low in salt. This also separates them from a large number of other salty foods in the American diet. Minimizing salt intake is quite beneficial for the heart, among other organs; too much salt can make the circulatory system less effective, putting strain on the heart and the blood vessels.
95% of a cucumber’s content is actually water; that ratio is even higher than a human’s 75%. As you might guess from the previous point, the body is very reliant on water. Without water, numerous organs cannot do their jobs as efficiently. These include the kidneys, which need water to filter the blood, the liver, the digestive tract, which uses water to help flush the intestines and ease bowel movements, and even the skin, which needs water to stay smooth and flexible. Cucumbers, with their significant water content, are a great way to get water from food, similar to watermelon.
4. Heart Health
As mentioned earlier, high levels of sodium can cause problems for the heart and the circulatory system. This is because when salt ties up water in the body, the water is less able to dilute fluids(including blood) and lubricate organs and vessels. The blood becomes thicker, which makes it harder for the heart to pump it through the body. Furthermore, salt also weakens the blood vessels directly, by making them more brittle and inflexible. This also increases the strain on the heart. Cucumber’s salt-free nature doesn’t contribute to this; it contains a small level of potassium, which counters sodium.