Did you know that cucumber, or Cucumis sativus, is considered a medicinal food for the treatment of dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)? In fact, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of hyperlipidemic patients, cucumber administered daily for six weeks significantly reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), while increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C) (Soltani et al., 2016).
In effect, this cucumber intervention reversed the biomarkers of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to cardiovascular disease as well as insulin-dependent diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and epithelial cell cancers. High levels of HDL-C, which were engendered in the cucumber group, are protective against coronary artery disease, in particular. This form of cholesterol participates in the retrograde transport of cholesterol from lipid-laden macrophages residing in atherosclerotic plaques and fatty streaks, called foam cells, back to the liver for excretion into the bile.
Studies have also shown that cucumber exhibits protective effects in models of diabetes (Heidari et al., 2016). Extracts of cucumber fruits prevented the forms of inflammation known as oxidative and carbonyl stress which are not only processes that are implicated in the pathophysiology of diabetes, but are also present in autoimmune conditions. Cucumber prevented chemical-induced depletion of glutathione, the master antioxidant of the body, in hepatocytes, or liver cells, isolated from rats (Heidari et al., 2016). It also prevented membrane lipid peroxidation, or the 'rusting' of fats in cell membranes, as well as cell lysis, or the bursting of cells as a consequence of exposure to certain chemicals (Heidari et al., 2016).
Further, administration of cucumber extracts in these in vitro models prevented chemical-induced proteolysis, or the degradation of protein, as well as formation of free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS) which damage cell constituents (Heidari et al., 2016). Lastly, cucumber mitigated the decline in the electrochemical potential of the mitochondrial, the intracellular organelles responsible for energy production, that normally occurs upon chemical exposure (Heidari et al., 2016). Therefore, cucumber is a perfect food-as-medicine approach to incorporate into the diets of those at risk for diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and other metabolic conditions.
For a delicious, nutrient-rich way of incorporating cucumber into your diet, see my friend Rebecca Boucher's guest recipe below.
Heidari, H. et al. (2016). Protective mechanisms of Cucumis sativus in diabetes-related modelsof oxidative stress and carbonyl stress. Bioimpacts, 6(1), 33-39.
Soltani, R. et al. (2016). Evaluation of the Effects of Cucumis sativus Seed Extract on Serum Lipids in Adult Hyperlipidemic Patients: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Food Science, 82(1), 214-218.
When I first purchased my spiralizer, I was amazed! It was at the beginning of my AIP journey, and I was missing pasta like something else. The spiralizer made giving up pasta much much easier. Plus, I was having a blast experimenting, because I must admit, it is so darn fun to use! I’ve tried spiralizing zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, butternut squash, celeriac, and even apples. My all time favourite though is spiralized cucumbers! Why? They are suuuper refreshing and make the BEST salads, and bonus: no cooking!
Now with all the indulging that happens around the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a light, refreshing dish that is also nutrient-dense. This dish is simple to throw together. I especially enjoy it as a quick lunch!
Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 lb shrimp, cooked and peeled
2-3 English cucumbers, spiralized
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 ripe avocado, medium size
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove
1-inch nub of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Place all dressing ingredients into a high powered blender or a small food processor. Process until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape sides.
Add dressing ingredients and spiralized cucumbers to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
Serve topped with shrimp and cilantro.
About Rebecca: Growing up I suffered with multiple skin issues, including eczema. Then in 2006, I was diagnosed with lichen sclerosis when I was 21 years old. I felt deeply that healing was not going to come in the form of steroid creams and ointments, so I looked to natural health care. I always considered myself a healthy eater, and spent years experimenting with nutrition and different diet plans. However, I finally felt I was on the true road to health and healing once I started the paleo autoimmune protocol. I am crazy passionate about healing through nourishment and am currently pursuing my dreams of studying to become a holistic nutritionist. Follow me at my blog, Lichen Paleo, Loving AIP, my Facebook page, and my Instagram, where I share my passion for developing real food, nutrient dense meals and treats!