Having lived in the village, I grew up eating cucumbers but seasonally, you know. Ours is a unimodal region as we have only one season of rain, starting from November stretching up to April.
We used to farm them and enjoy them when ripe, but they are different from the commonly known long cucumbers. Having searched for them from the internet, I saw the ones we were eating are similar to the ones being called lemon cucumbers.
Lemon cucumbers are more like lemons contrary to the ones we used to farm in our village. I will refer those village cucumbers as round cucumbers. It is sad that I tried to google these local cucumbers which were really spherical to no avail.
“This species of cucumbers seems to be rare, so perhaps I have to be the first one to expose it to the cucumber world,” I thought. I really wish I had the access to them so that I could photograph them and upload them for the world to see this amazing brand of cucumbers. But for now I am an urban dweller, very far from my home village.
These common long round ones we used to call them ‘mambede’ in our local language. Little did I know that one day, the rare ‘mambede’ as we reffered them back in our communities, are the commonest in the cucumber world! I remember the moments when we picked them from the farms, sometimes you pick it and eat it but you find it very bitter, you end up spitting it… they say the bitter ones belong to cucurbitaceous family.
Wait a minute, are cucumbers fruits or vegetables? Cucumbers belong to the gourd family, cucurbitaceae and the scientists suggest that they can be referred to as fruits, and sometimes as vegetables, but I will refer them to as fruits in this piece. Apart from the meal, most families are used to having some fruits, and this tendency is beneficial given the health benefits one can get in fruits.
I am an avid fan of such habit, but I must confess, I was not that happy with cucumbers being the fruits accompanying the meals until one day I decided to find a little more about these fruits. To my surprise, what I discovered is that I was missing a lot by ignoring these ‘simple’ fruits; as we will look upon the nutritious value contained later.
Cucumber business has grown by leaps and bounds in Dar es Salaam city as petty traders sell them on their stalls, peeling them and storing them in nylons having sprayed them with a mixture of salt and pepper.
I went to one of these sellers and wondered why he was selling little cucumbers. “These are the ones people prefer, they say the big ones are hard and less tasty,” he said. As you know, these locals are good at maximizing and overstating things, so I decided to provoke him on the importance of cucumbers to human health.
“They have many benefits, they can even regulate and cure the disorders in the kidney,” he stated, adding a new thing to my list of health benefits of cucumbers I was unaware of.
I am not sure about that and did not want to argue with this volunteering enthusiastic ‘health expert’. “People buy them a lot and per day I sell hundreds of them,” said this seller peeling cucumbers for his anticipated customers. It so goes without saying that selling of cucumbers earn a living to many of the petty traders in Dar es Salaam.
What is unknown to many people is the fact that peeling of cucumbers reduces their nutritional value. Cucumbers are said to be low in calories but they are rich in vitamins, and they contain a lot of water. According to www. Heathline.com, 11 ounce (300-grammes) of unpeeled, raw cucumber contains 45 calories, ograms of fat, 11 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, vitamin C, K, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
“Cucumbers are low in calories but high in water and several important vitamins and minerals. Eating cucumbers with the peel provides the maximum amount of nutrients,” says the website. Furthermore, cucumbers contain antioxidants; molecules that block oxidation, a chemical reaction that forms highly reactive atoms with unpaired electrons known as free radicals.
The accumulation of these harmful free radicals can lead to several types of chronic illnesses. In fact, oxidative stress caused by free radicals has been associated with cancer and heart, lung and autoimmune disease.
Fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, are especially rich in beneficial antioxidants that may reduce the risk of these conditions. I have come to learn that there apart from all the benefits explained above, cucumbers are easy to add to your diet.
They are relatively cheap compared to many other fruits that you would like to add to your meal. Even the taste of cucumbers contain a lot of water, hence, no complications to those flavour minders (they have no strong flavour or odour).
Most people don’t consider cucumbers as important fruits, and sometimes, besides their availability, families don’t eat them as they would do let say with bananas and other fruits, but they are missing a lot.
Eating cucumbers may lead to many health benefits, including weight loss, balanced hydration, digestive regularity and lower blood sugar levels. Yes, cucumbers can help lower blood sugar. Test-tube and animal studies show that cucumber may help lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes-related complications.
The nutritious fruit could help diabetics as it contains high fibre content; fibre is key to lowering blood sugar levels. It also helps slow down digestion of carbohydrates and sugar, which can further lower sugar levels. The researchers reminded that cucumbers could help get the patients their fill without worrying about raising blood sugar too much. This is according to a study published in the journal of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.
“Stop! Cucumber Skin Is Super Nutritious, Don’t Peel It” is another article I came across as I was perusing in the internet about cucumber peels.
This was written in food. ndtv.com, and the article read “Cucumber peels are a great source of insoluble fibre that sweeps through the digestive tract easily and creates a faecal bulk, further helping in relieving constipation.” But one can, however, argue how should I eat peels given that cucumbers pass through many hands hence by eating these peels I am making myself vulnerable to infections? But this is where we miss out a whole lot of nutrition.
According to Delhi- based nutritionist Dr Rupali Datta, “We generally recommend eating any fruit with peels as they contain essential fibre that is a must for your body.
The dark green colour of the cucumber peel indicates the presence of antioxidants in it, which ensures nourishment. Moreover, these peels contain quite a few macronutrients that contribute to a healthy body.” Yes, a cucumber a day will keep the doctor away