Cucumbers are one of the more versatile foods out there that do not get nearly the attention from health experts they deserve.
Not only are they known to assist in things like stress relief (cool as a cucumber, anyone?), hydration, and relieving puffy eyes, they are also inexpensive, delicious, and can be consumed in a variety of ways.
Cucumbers are excellent in salads, even as the sole ingredient, they make great pickles, and can even be eaten as a simple snack, sliced and dusted with a little salt.
They may be most valuable, though, in juices thanks to their mild flavor, high water content, and low sugar content.
The question we are looking at today, though, is whether or not cucumbers can help boost your exercise performance.
If so, this could be a huge boost to your performance, fitness, and even appearance.
You know what’s next.
Does science tell us anything?
The Cucumber-Exercise Study
Published in March 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences, researchers conducted a study on 24 adults to determine whether or not gherkin, an extract of cucumber, would have an impact on exercise performance and markers of inflammation.
It is important to note that the researchers studied a branded extract of gherkin called Cuvitus. The makers of Cuvitus also funded the study, so a grain of salt should be kept handy and further research will be useful.
With that said, their findings on both exercise performance and inflammation were pretty exceptional.
They randomly assigned the 24 subjects into two groups, one which received 150mg of the gherkin extract and another which received a placebo. Each group performed an identical leg extension workout on three separate occasions. The exercise protocol was designed to induce cellular stress and muscle soreness, and the gherkin or placebo was taken for six days leading up to first exercise session. Lifestyle habits were controlled.
Things are looking pretty good for cucumbers!
While both groups experienced similar muscle soreness, not only were inflammatory markers significantly improved in the gherkin group, their improvements in exercise performance were outstanding.
To the tune of an improvement of 6.2 times over the placebo group.
Not too bad!
Now, this was not a large study, so while it gives us hope, further and larger studies would be very helpful. Not only in terms of replicating the results, but in determining the ideal and safest amounts of gherkin extract, whether other forms of cucumber can offer similar benefits, etc.
However, given what we already know about the benefits of cucumbers along with their safety (not including those with allergies), we might find it useful to add some cucumbers to our pre-exercise routines.
Cucumber juice could be a welcome addition to your juicing regimen, if you have one. For many, it is a staple as a hydrating, low-sugar base.
Research has shown another juicing favorite, beets, to have performance-boosting qualities as well (see here and here). Juicing beets is an amazing way to consume them as it can be difficult to eat enough beets to gain the exercise boost many are looking for. Plus, let’s be honest. They don’t exactly taste all that great.
The juice, however, is a different story.
Adding cucumber juice to your beet juice is an easy way to incorporate it and get both efficiently. With cucumbers’ mild flavor, you can easily add it to your beet juice and perhaps cut down on the stronger flavor of the beets, and create an even more delicious juice without boosting its sugar content.
From there, go ahead an play with it to suit your tastes. Maybe add a little mint to brighten it up a bit. Or, if you need a little extra sweetness, toss in a small apple. The longer you juice, the less you may feel the need for the extra sweetness. But, in the meantime, a small apple is easy to get, won’t break the bank, and will taste great.
There may be a ton of benefits out there in some of the more exotic and rare superfoods. There is also more cost and difficulty in acquiring them, which is why you find more “common” foods on this site.
Sometimes some of our more common foods may be more “super” than they are given credit for. So stay on the lookout for those easily accessible, health-boosting foods that can help you take your power back over your health!
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