Cucumber (Huang Gua)
Botanical Name: Cucumis sativus
One large peeled cucumber contains only 34 calories. They are an excellent source for vitamin C and K and are known to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. They are also detoxing and anti-aging. Pickled, raw or baked, cucumbers are an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Botanically speaking, like tomatoes and squash, cucumbers are actually a fruit, not a vegetable, even though we tend to refer to them as a vegetable.
Below is an overview of Cucumber (Huang Gua), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Cucumber (Huang Gua).
Western Name: Cucumber
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Digestion, Skin, Eyes, Liver, Bladder
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-cancer, Hydrating, Antidiabetic, Detoxing, Anti-aging, Diuretic, Moisturizing. Red puffy eyes, dehydration, sunstroke, thirst, prevents certain cancers (including breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers), supports blood clotting, weight loss, lower lipids, detoxing, promotes urination, bloating, acne, headaches.
Pin Yin: Huang Gua
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestines, Bladder
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Cools Heat and Summer Heat/Detoxes: summer heat, red puffy eyes, acne, diarrhea, irritability, thirst, jaundice, food and alcohol toxicity, indigestion. Promotes Urination: diuresis, edema, jaundice, bladder and kidney infections. Soothes and Benefits the Skin and Eyes: sunburn, dermatitis, swollen eyes, conjunctivitis, insect bites, swollen hot skin conditions, hydrating to dry itchy skin.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Cucumber, Juice
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Neutral, Cool
History/Folklore: Cucumbers are low in saturated fats and sodium. They are a good source of Vitamin C, K, and A, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and pantothenic acid.
Cucumbers are one of the top alkaline foods helping to balance the bodies natural pH levels and countering the effects of a too acidic diet (one full of fried foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates.)
Even though most folks are familiar with the long, dark green, smooth-skinned garden variety, cucumbers actually come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes. There are white, yellow and even orange-colored cucumbers. They are all from the same family of plants, called Curcubitaceae. They are known to have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years and are believed to have been introduced to Europe by the Greeks and Romans.
Cucumber peel is a good source of fiber and can help reduce constipation and protect against colon cancers.
The lignan constituents in cucumbers have been shown in research to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer (including breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers).
The triterpene compounds of cucurbitacins found in fresh cucumbers are being studied for their anti-cancer properties. They are known to induce cancerous cell death.
Cucumbers can help reduce bloating and water retention making them a good food to munch on after an evening of salty foods and alcohol.
Cucumber juice or eating the fresh vegetable has a long tradition as a natural remedy for headaches caused by dehydration, stress, fatigue or low blood sugar. Studies confirm foods high in magnesium and water content, like cucumbers, can help ease the symptoms of headaches by preventing dehydration and balancing body fluids.
Cucumbers have long been used on the skin and eyes to soothe, cool and reduce inflammation and even to treat acne.
Cucumbers can be baked with herbs, butter, and scallions by placing them in a preheated oven for about an hour, tossing 2-3 times until they are tender, but still retaining bit of crunchy texture.
In China, cucumbers are the ideal food for hot summer weather as they are cooling and soothing.
There are two types of pickles made from cucumbers: fermented and non-fermented. Cucumbers are typically fermented in brine (water that’s been saturated with salt.) “Kosher dill pickles” are cucumbers that have been fermented in brine, dill and garlic.
Cucumbers are sensitive to heat, so store in your refrigerator or in a cool dark area.
Vitamin C, K and A, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Manganese Pantothenic acid, Antioxidants, Fiber, Lignans (Lariciresinol, Pinoresinol and Secoisolariciresinol), Cucurbitacins, Flavonoids (Apigenin, Luleolin, Quercetin, Kaempferol).
Commercial production divides cucumbers into three types: pickling, seedless and slicing cucumbers. Pickling cucumbers will be smaller with thicker skins and slicing cucumbers will be larger with thinner skins.
The word, “gherkin” is used to describe two different varieties of cucumbers: Cucumis sativus or Cucumis anguiria.
Seeds and Skins
Both the seeds and skins are edible and high in nutritional value. Only the wax on organic cucumber skins is non-synthetic. The wax found on non-organic cucumbers is synthetic and best removed.
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