Fruit and vegetable peels are sometimes touted as having more nutritional value than the flesh. That may lead you to believe that eating a fruit or vegetable that has been peeled is not worthwhile. In the case of the cucumber, as well as many other fruits and vegetables, the peel contributes little more than fiber. In fact, the addition of pesticides and the food wax found on many grocery store cucumbers may make a peeled cucumber more wholesome than an unpeeled one.
Cucumbers have a very high water content, making them low in calories by volume. One cup of peeled, raw cucumber slices has only 14 calories compared to 16 calories in cucumber slices with the peel intact. The low calorie count makes cucumbers an ideal summertime snack for those watching their weights. Chilled cucumber salad is a refreshing way to stay satisfied without making a dent in your daily calorie budget.
Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat and Fiber
The calories in cucumbers come primarily from carbohydrates. Although each cup contains 2.57 grams of total carbohydrates, 0.8 gram comes from fiber, which is indigestible and, therefore, does not contain any calories. With 1.77 grams of net carbohydrates per cup, about half of the 14 calories in a cup of peeled and sliced cucumber are carbohydrate calories. There is 0.7 gram of protein in each cup of cucumber, accounting for about 3 of the 14 calories. Cucumbers have a very small amount of fat. Each cup contains about 0.19 gram of fat, or 1.71 calories from fat.
The mineral content of cucumbers and other produce with high water content may seem insignificant; however, the calorie-for-calorie comparison is what is important since you don't calculate your daily intake of food by the number of cups you can eat, but the number of calories you can consume. For instance, there are only 17 milligrams of the recommended 1,000 milligrams of calcium women need each day in a cup of cucumber, but as a calorie-for-calorie comparison, you would get more than double the daily recommended intake of calcium if you ate only cucumbers all day on a 2,000 calorie diet. By this measure, peeled cucumbers are also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and fluoride.
Peeled cucumber also contains small but significant amounts of several vitamins, including vitamins C, B-6, A, D, E and K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate and choline. A diet that consisted solely of cucumbers would not fulfill the daily requirements of these vitamins, but eating cucumbers will contribute to your daily vitamin requirements.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.