Cucumber: Vital part of low-cal diet

Cucumber belongs to the same family as squashes and watermelon. It is believed that it was one of the first cultivated vegetables.

It's most remarkable quality is its high water (95 per cent) and low calorie content (14 calories in a cup of freshly sliced cucumber). Besides this, it has low carbohydrate content though it does provide half a gram of protein and 3 gm of fibre per cup. It also has small amounts of plant vitamin A, some B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, potassium, selenium, silicon, molybdenum and alpha hydroxyl acids. Alpha hydroxyl acids and silicon, present in cucumbers, are good for skin, hair, nails and bone health. Silicon also plays a vital role in the prevention of heart disease, insomnia and skin disorders.

Alkaline nature and mild diuretic properties of cucumber are known to help cleanse the system by elimination of waste, including excess uric acid. In traditional folk remedies, it was often recommended as a diuretic and also used for its anti-inflammatory properties for conditions like arthritis, gout and skin diseases like eczema. It is useful for those trying to lose weight.

With its cleansing and restorative properties, one cucumber a day can serve as a useful addition to a healthy diet.

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being, one should integrate physical, mental and spiritual health. According to her: "To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all."

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