Does Cucumber lower Blood Pressure?

  • 1st Revision: Emma Soopramanien
  • 2nd Revision: Shikha Javaharlal
  • 3rd Revision: Wasi Karim

Are you a fan of cucumbers? If so, you’re in luck! Why? Keep reading to find out more.

Does cucumber lower blood pressure?

Yes! It does. The composition and nutritional value of cucumbers make it an ideal food for lowering blood pressure. This article explains in detail how can cucumber help to lower your blood pressure. 

Health benefits of cucumbers

1. Contributes to bone health

Cucumbers are highly nutritious. Whilst being low in calories, a 300g cucumber contains 10% of the daily magnesium reference intake* (RI), 9% of daily potassium RI, 10% of daily manganese RI, 9% of daily vitamin C, and 41% of daily vitamin K RI.1 

Vitamin K does not only aid blood clotting (see below), but has also been shown to improve bone health by increasing bone mineral density.2 Currently, NHS England recommends adults to have 1 microgram (mcg) of vitamin K per kilogram of body weight daily. For example, an individual who weighs 70kg will need 70mcg of vitamin K daily. In one average serving size of cucumber (⅓ of a cucumber), it provides 16.5mcg of vitamin K.1 Thus, making it a great addition to your diet to reach daily vitamin K recommendation amounts.

*daily reference intake is based on a 2000kcal diet and suggests the amount of each nutrient needed for a healthy diet 

2. Promotes hydration

Made up of 96.4% water, cucumbers can help hydrate you when you feel thirsty.3 As around 70% of the human body is made up of water, it is important to remain hydrated to support your body functions, such as digestion and temperature regulation, which may perform poorly when one is dehydrated.4  

The British Dietetic Association, recommends that average adult men and women drink 2000ml and 1600ml a day, respectively.5 Though we get most of our fluid intake from drinking, research has shown that some people get up to 40% of their daily water intake from eating and not drinking.6

3. Contains antioxidants

Cucumbers, like most fruit and vegetables, are also rich in antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese). They also contain flavonoids, such as lignans and triterpenes.

So, what are antioxidants and flavonoids? Both antioxidants and flavonoids are molecules that prevent oxidation, a chemical reaction that forms free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules. Free radicals are naturally forming molecules produced when exercising; however, your body can also be exposed to free radicals in more harmful ways, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution. 

Accumulation of free radicals in the body can trigger cell damage through oxidative stress, which is thought to contribute to the onset of various chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Thus, consuming fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, may lower your risk for several chronic diseases.7

4. Aids digestion

Eating cucumbers can help improve gut health and promote regular bowel movements. Cucumbers are largely made up of two components: water and fibre. Dehydration, especially in older adults, is a major risk factor for constipation. By staying hydrated, constipation can be prevented, and stool consistency and regularity can be improved.8 Moreover, cucumbers are rich in pectin, a type of soluble dietary fibre that aids the digestive process, thus, improving bowel movement frequency.9

5. Promotes healthy weight loss

Firstly, this beloved vegetable is very low in calories (45 calories in one 300g raw, unpeeled cucumber), making it a great addition to your diet if you are on the journey of weight loss. Moreover, as it is high in water and fibre content, it can promote weight loss by satiating your hunger faster.

6. Helps regulate diabetes

Cucumbers have been deemed to promote antidiabetic activity by reducing your blood sugar levels. In an animal study, researchers found that feeding cucumber peels to mice with diabetes resulted in a reversal of the enzyme associated with diabetes and caused a reduction in blood sugar levels.3

7. Lowers your blood pressure (BP)

Finally, cucumbers can help lower your BP. This will be discussed in more detail below.

How does it reduce blood pressure?

High BP, also commonly known as hypertension, can lead to more serious conditions, such as strokes or heart attacks. Though multiple contributing factors can cause high BP, one major factor is consuming too much sodium (i.e. salt) and too little potassium in the diet.10  

Not only are cucumbers very high in water content, but they also contain a large amount of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps reduce the amount of sodium-induced water retention by the kidney, which, in turn, lowers BP due to improved blood flow through the vessels. In essence, potassium works opposite of sodium in the regulation of fluid concentration in the body.11 Thus, cucumbers are a great source of potassium that can easily be added to your diet to lower your BP.

How to eat it?

The beauty of cucumbers is that they can be consumed in so many ways. Ways to incorporate more cucumbers into your diet include:

  • Salads – When you next make a salad, chop some cucumbers into little cubes or even try spiralling them into long ribbons to give it a different texture. 
  • Sandwiches – Putting a couple of sliced cucumbers in your sandwich can give it an extra crunch.
  • Smoothies and Juices – If you are not the biggest fan of cucumbers, blending them in a smoothie or juice may be the way to go.
  • Have it pickled – Gherkins have all the same health benefits with a little added on top. Fermented foods, such as gherkins and kimchi, contain many good bacteria called probiotics which play a pivotal role in gut health.
  • With dip – Sour cream and chive, hummus, and tzatziki are all great dips that go well with cucumber. This is an easy and light snack that you can bring with you anywhere.

Side effects

Though cucumbers are generally safe to consume for most people, there are some potential side effects to keep in mind.

1. Digestive issues

Some people may find cucumbers difficult to digest.12 However, the average cucumber available in supermarkets should be easily digestible by most people.

2. Blood clotting

Cucumbers are high in vitamin K, where 1 large cucumber provides 41% of daily reference intake of vitamin K. This is generally great as vitamin K aids the production of 4 of the 13 proteins required for blood clotting.13 However, eating too much cucumber can affect the way our blood clots.  

Eating too much cucumber can be especially dangerous for people taking blood-thinning medication, such as Coumadin (warfarin). People on this medication are typically advised to eat a consistent amount of vitamin K. Sudden or large consumption of vitamin K from food or supplements can impact the effectiveness of these medications.

3. Allergy

All vegetables or fruits have the potential to trigger allergic reactions, including cucumbers.14,15

4. Toxicity

Cucumbers contain cucurbitacins, a bioactive compound that gives some cucumbers their bitter taste; however, the average cucumber bought in supermarkets is unlikely to cause toxicity.3, 16

Other ways to reduce high blood pressure

NHS England suggests various ways to reduce BP, including

1. Limiting alcohol intake

2. Losing weight

3. Becoming active

4. Cutting down caffeine

Research related to the cucumber and high blood pressure

There are several studies noting a significant reduction in BP following cucumber consumption. Some notable studies and their findings are briefly described below:11

Study (Author & Date)InterventionFindings
Sir Lestari et al., (2015)100ml of cucumber juice once per day for 3 daysSystolic BP: ↓ 34mmHgDiastolic BP: ↓ 4.67mmHG
Sumirah Budi et al., (2017)100g of cucumber mixed with 200ml of water twice a day for 1 weekSystolic BP: ↓ 16.49mmHgDiastolic BP: ↓ 9.66mmHG
Candra Kusuma et al., (2018)200g of cucumber mixed with 100ml of water once per day for 3 daysSystolic BP: ↓ 13.03mmHgDiastolic BP: ↓ 6.87mmHg
Mardiati Barus et al., (2019)100g of cucumber juice for 7 daysSystolic BP: ↓ 13.04mmHgDiastolic BP: ↓ 10.87mmHg

Summary

Cucumbers have several health benefits, including providing vital nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, promoting hydration and healthy weight loss, aiding digestion and lowering BP. Ways to incorporate more cucumber into your diet include mixing it into salads, sandwiches or smoothies/juices; alternatively, you can have it pickled or just with dip. However, consuming cucumber in excess may cause result in indigestion, allergy, and blood clotting.

References:

  1. Cucumber, raw, with peel nutrition facts and analysis. [Internet]. www.nutritionvalue.org. Available from: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Cucumber
  2. Weber P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif) [Internet]. 2001 [cited 2019 Dec 12];17(10):880–7. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684396?dopt=Citation
  3. Mukherjee PK, Nema NK, Maity N, Sarkar BK. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2019 Oct 28];84:227–36. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0367326X12002791 
  4. Zelman KM, MPH, RD, LD. 6 Reasons to Drink Water [Internet]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water
  5. BDA. Fluid (water and drinks) [Internet]. www.bda.uk.com. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fluid-water-drinks.html
  6. Guelinckx I, Tavoularis G, König J, Morin C, Gharbi H, Gandy J. Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 14;8(10):630.
  7. Antioxidants: In Depth [Internet]. NCCIH. [Available from: http://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth 
  8. Arnaud MJ. Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation? European journal of clinical nutrition [Internet]. 2003;57 Suppl 2:S88-95. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14681719 
  9. Xu L, Yu W, Jiang J, Li N. [Clinical benefits after soluble dietary fiber supplementation: a randomized clinical trial in adults with slow-transit constipation]. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi [Internet]. 2014 Dec 30;94(48):3813–6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25623312/ 
  10. NHS. Overview - High Blood Pressure (hypertension) [Internet]. NHS. 2019. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/ 
  11. Evania D, Punjastuti B, Yunitasari P, Maryati S. The Impact of Cucumber (Cucumissativus) Juice on Blood Pressure in Elderly With Hypertension. KnE Life Sciences. 2022 Feb 7;
  12. Akhondi-Meybodi M, Aghaei MA, Hashemian Z. The Role of Diet in the Management of Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia. Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases [Internet]. 2015 Jan 1 [cited 2020 May 27];7(1):19–24. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4293796/
  13. Boston 677 HA, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Vitamin K [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2012. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-k/
  14. Vlaicu C, Caballer B de la H, Rusu C, Ledesma A, Cervera JG, Sola J, et al. Cucumber Allergy (CA) and Latex IgE Sensitization. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology [Internet]. 2010 Feb;125(2):AB215. Available from: https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(09)02638-4/fulltext 
  15. Allergy to vegetables [Internet]. Anaphylaxis Campaign. Available from: https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/knowledgebase/allergy-to-vegetables/ 
  16. Kaushik U, Aeri V, Mir SR. Cucurbitacins – An insight into medicinal leads from nature. Pharmacognosy Reviews [Internet]. 2015;9(17):12–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441156/ 

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Jasmine Yeh

Master of Research - MRes, Clinical Research (Human Nutrition Pathway), Imperial College London
Hi! My name is Jasmine and I am currently doing an MRes in clinical research, specializing in human nutrition. I am extremely passionate about dissecting complex scientific papers and communicating them to those with non-scientific backgrounds to help them lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle to me should be maintainable, taking into account both physical and mental wellbeing, and is focused on prevention rather than treatment of diseases. I hope reading this article will help you take a positive step towards your idea of a healthy lifestyle!

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