Can you eat cucumber on keto?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat cucumber on keto?” Additionally, we will present relevant information such as the principles of a keto diet; the benefits of eating cucumber (and its nutritional value); and finally some ideas on how to incorporate it in your diet.
Can you eat cucumber on keto?
Yes, you can eat cucumber on keto. Fresh cucumbers are suitable for a keto diet because they are low-carb, a good source of fiber, and contain zero cholesterol (due to its vegetable origin) (1,2).
What is the principle of a keto diet?
A keto diet works with the principle of forcing your body to use adipose tissue (body fat mass) as an energy source. The best way to induce your body to use its fat as an energy source, is depleting the intake of carbohydrates (2,3,4).
Carbohydrates are the main energy source of your body in a normal condition. Normally, your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in your liver and muscles. When you stop providing carbs to your organism, you will use that glycogen storage (2,3,4).
After a few days with a low intake of carbohydrates, your body will deplete all the glycogen available and it will start using fats as an energy source; this stage is known as ketosis (2,3,4).
To achieve ketosis, a keto diet just allows you to eat 50 or less carbohydrates a day, and that 50 g should be preferably from non-simple sugars like cane sugar (or sucrose). Your energy should be taken from fats and proteins. It is important to note that proteins and exercise are critical in a keto diet to avoid muscle loss (2,3,4).
What are the main health benefits and risks of a keto diet?
The keto diet has benefits if done correctly; for example, it could help for weight loss and reduce body fat mass. It can help regulate glucose blood levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Keto diet also helps to regulate blood lipids profile and reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases (2,3,4).
On the other hand, there are also some health concerns of a keto diet, for example (2,3,4):
- It is a restrictive diet, and if it is not done correctly, you can present a nutritional deficiency of vitamin C and minerals like magnesium and potassium. Vitamin C and minerals like magnesium are antioxidants which maintain your immune system strong.
- The lack of fruits and vegetables can cause a low-fiber intake. Fiber is essential for maintaining good gastrointestinal health. For example, fiber alleviates and prevents constipation, when it is fermented by your microbiota, it produces short chain fatty acids that inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- There is no scientific evidence to support the safety of a keto diet in the long-term; most studies are limited to 24 months. Therefore, you should look for professional advice before doing a keto diet.
If you want to know more about the keto diet, please visit our article right here.
What is the nutritional value of Cucumbers?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, cucumber is a low-fat, low-carbs, and high fiber vegetable. The following table summarizes the macronutrient composition of cucumber, according to the USDA FoodData Central (1):
|Serving size||Total carbs||Fat||Protein||Fiber|
|Small Cucumber 6 3/8″ (158 g)||5.41 g||2.3 g||0.975 g||0.75 g|
|Medium Cucumber 7″ (201 g)||7.26 g||0.22 g||1.3 g||1 g|
|Large Cucumber 8 1/4″ (301 g)||10.9 g||0.33 g||1.96 g||1.5 g|
|1 Cup Sliced Cucumber (119 g)||3.78 g||0.114g||0.676 g||0.52 g|
Besides the macronutrients, cucumber also has micronutrients like (5-7):
- B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9): B vitamins are essential for good cognitive development, as well as for a good metabolism of all macronutrients.
- Vitamin K: this vitamin has a role in coagulation processes (helpful for healing wounds), and also in the correct growth of bone tissue.
- Vitamin C: this is one of the most known vitamins with important roles in strengthening your immune system, especially against respiratory diseases.
And also you can obtain bioactive molecules in cucumber, for example (7-10):
- Curcubitacins (terpenoids): these are powerful antioxidants that can help to prevent diseases such as breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer.
- Flavonoids: vast family of different antioxidant molecules with potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and anti-cancer properties.
- Carotenoids: carotenoids can exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and photoprotective activity; the biological properties of carotenoids will result in lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, as well as reducing the impact of aging in macular degeneration and skin.
What are the health benefits of eating cucumber on a keto diet?
Thanks to the fiber content and the micronutrients present in cucumber, this vegetable can provide you with the following benefits in a keto diet (5-10):
- The fiber will promote good gastrointestinal health and will prevent constipation, a common problem in low-fiber diets such as keto diet.
- The bioactive molecules of cucumber can counter the oxidative stress caused by fat and protein metabolism, because they can produce some toxic components like ketones and ammonia.
- The vitamins contained in cucumber will ensure a good metabolism of all macronutrients, as well as a strong immune system.
- Cucumber also contains water, which can contribute to your hydration.
What are the possible health drawbacks of eating cucumber on a keto diet?
There are not too many health drawbacks of eating cucumber in your keto diet; however, if you eat only cucumber and do not include other vegetables, you could deprive your body of other micronutrients such as vitamin A or vitamin E (6, 11).
Remember that variety is the key for an optimal nutrition, try to include vegetables of all colors to ensure the intake of other bioactive compounds (11).
What are Keto-friendly tips for including cucumber in a keto diet?
You can include cucumber in your keto diet in the following ways (11):
- Salads: this is one of the easiest ways to include not only cucumber, but other vegetables to enhance your intake of micronutrients and fiber.
- Alongside meats and fishes: lean meats like beef, lean pork, turkey, poultry, and fishes are excellent sources of high quality proteins to ensure a good muscle synthesis. Besides, animal-derived foods are a good source of iron, zinc, and selenium; these micronutrients are essential to prevent anemia, ensure a good growth and development, and make your immune system stronger against diseases.
- Dips and salad dressings with greek yogurt: tzatziki is a delicious dip made with greek yogurt and cucumber, it has low content of carbs and a balanced content of fats and proteins (3 and 2 g each). Making dips like tzatziki could incorporate new textures and flavors to your dishes with cucumber. You can find the recipe here.
For more recipes of salads and meats with cucumber, please visit this website.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat cucumber on keto?” Additionally, we presented relevant information such as the principles of a keto diet; the benefits of eating cucumber (and its nutritional value); and finally some ideas on how to incorporate it in your diet.
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 21 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168409/nutrients
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