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Monday, 20 January 2020

The Health Benefits of Cucumber Juice Aren't Worth the Hype

You’ve probably seen the headlines: Cucumber juice is a magic elixir! It has weight-loss superpowers! It will miraculously detox your entire body, head to toe!
Um, sorry. None of that is true. Cucumber juice is … the juice of a simple vegetable with a set amount of nutritional benefits. Like with last year’s celery juice trend, the health claims about cucumber juice have been vastly overstated. Let’s look at those claims and see what health benefits cucumber juice actually has for your body. You won’t find any wild promises here — just the facts.

Is cucumber juice good for hydration?

Since cucumbers have a high water content, cucumber juice can help with hydration, especially if you’re not much of a water drinker, says Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging. “However, many recipes have added sugar, so with those you won’t get the calorie-free hydration you’d get with water. And if you’re considering bottled cucumber juice, be especially wary, as some brands contain as much sugar as soda.” Hydration is critical, of course: It helps our bodies deliver nutrients to cells, keeps our joints lubricated and our minds sharp, regulates our body temperature, and helps our organs function properly. So if you like unsweetened cuke juice, slurp away — just don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll do a better job than plain water.

Is cucumber juice a good source of potassium?

Many online sources cite cucumber juice as a wonderful source of potassium— in fact, some of them say that it can help you lower your blood pressure (because potassium is needed to balance out the sodium in your body that can contributed to high blood pressure). And okay, cukes do have some of the mineral — 76 mgs per cup of peeled, which is 2% of your daily value. But many veggies have a whole lot more; in fact, if you eat ½ cup of beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, zucchini, Brussels sprouts (and so, SO many other vegetables), you’ll get as much as three times the amount of potassium. Bottom line here: If you’re looking to boost your potassium, it’s fine to drink unsweetened cucumber juice, but don’t rely on that when most other vegetables will do the job a whole lot better. Heck, eat a banana for 422 mg of potassium.

Is cucumber juice high in antioxidants?

Here again, you’ll find a lot of misinformation online about cucumber juice’s supposed superpowers. It’s rich in Vitamin C? Well, no — there are 2.8 mg in 1 cup of cucumber (with peel). Compare that to a cup of chopped kiwis (167 mg), bell peppers (152 mg), strawberries (98 mg), broccoli (81 mg), and tomatoes (55 mg). How about beta carotene, another antioxidant? Consider this: On the USDA’s ranking of 150 veggies by beta carotene levels, cucumbers are number 142. “There are also claims that the antioxidants in cucumber juice can help prevent cancer and lower your blood sugar. However, there’s no solid research to back this up — the small handful of studies that have been conducted have used highly concentrated cucumber extracts or powders, which are much considerably potent than the one or two cucumbers that go into a glass of cucumber juice," says Ansel.

Is cucumber juice a good source of vitamin K?

This vitamin is important to blood clotting and bone metabolism. If you believe the trendy stories online, you’d think that cucumber juice is a fab source of this vitamin, but the opposite is actually true. (Which is why the veggie is on the list of low-vitamin K veggies that are safe for those on anti-blood-clotting medicines like Warfarin, who have to keep their vitamin K intake steady.) Yes, cukes provide 14% of your daily value of vitamin K (per cup of peeled) — but compare this to a half-cup of boiled kale (442%), spinach (370%), or Brussels sprouts (91%).

Can cucumber juice help you lose weight?

There's no magic here. Cucumbers are low in calories (about 16 in a cup of chopped cukes, with peel) and, as we pointed out, high in water content. If you, say, drink two Cokes a day (that's 280 cals and almost 80 gms of sugar) and replace them with unsweetened cucumber juice, you may well shed some pounds. And no doubt, replacing a soda habit in this way would be a healthy move.

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