Pregnant women are encouraged to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Though considered a vegetable to most, cucumbers are technically classified as a fruit as they contain seeds and grow from the flower of a plant. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, eating cucumber during pregnancy can supply your body with a variety of health benefits!
Here we dive into:
- The safety of eating cucumber during pregnancy
- When to avoid eating cucumber
- Why cucumber is good for pregnancy, including 11 surprising benefits
- Ways to enjoy cucumber during pregnancy.
Before we dive into the many health benefits of eating cucumber during pregnancy, let’s discuss safety first.
Is it Safe to Eat Cucumber During Pregnancy?
Cucumbers are a part of the cucurbitaceae family. They contain cucurbitacins and tetracyclic triterpenoid compounds which are toxic in nature and considered life-threatening when consumed in large amounts. However, these compounds also provide many benefits, including protection against inflammation, cancers, atherosclerosis and diabetes.
As with all foods, it is always recommended to consume individual foods in moderation to provide your body with a variety of nutrients. Vary your diet with all sorts of fruits and vegetables to provide your body with optimal health during pregnancy.
When to Avoid Eating Cucumber During Pregnancy
While cucumber is safe to eat in healthy amounts during pregnancy, it is not necessarily safe for everyone. If you have other underlying medical conditions, you may need to limit or avoid eating cucumber altogether.
Allergy to ragweed
Some fruits and trees have cross-reactivity when it comes to their allergen profiles. Cucumber is one of the foods known to cause mouth or throat swelling in people who are allergic to ragweed. Until further research is available, it is best to avoid eating cucumber if you also have an allergy to ragweed.
Gastrointestinal disorders, including colitis
With its high fiber content and gas producing nature, it is recommended to avoid raw cucumber during a colitis flare. To minimize the side effects and decrease the fiber content, remove the seeds and peel off the skin.
Kidney disease such as pyelonephritis and chronic nephritis
Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, which is beneficial for blood pressure regulation and to reduce water retention. However, if you have an underlying kidney disease, you may need to monitor your potassium intake.
Cucumbers and other potassium rich foods can be part of a healthy kidney diet. Work with your healthcare provider, or consult with a dietitian to determine your individualized nutrition needs.
Cucumber is Good For Pregnancy
While there are some instances when you should limit, or avoid, cucumbers altogether (see above), when part of a well balanced diet, cucumbers can be a nutrient dense snack option that provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more to support a healthy pregnancy!
Cucumber is good for pregnancy and can provide your body with many nutritional benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of cucumber:
Nutritional value of cucumber
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one cucumber (roughly 300 g) provides:
- 45 calories (a nutrient dense source of energy!)
- 2 grams of Protein
- 1.5 grams of Fiber (good for digestion)
Other beneficial nutrients for pregnancy include:
11 Surprising Benefits of Eating Cucumber During Pregnancy
Now that we know all of the nutrients cucumbers are rich in, let’s dive into why they are beneficial during pregnancy!
Combats oxidative stress
Oxidative stress occurs during normal placental growth and development. Antioxidants including Vitamins A and C are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help fight off oxidative stress. Your nutrient needs increase during pregnancy in order to supply adequate nutrition to your baby during pregnancy. Cucumbers are an excellent source of antioxidants to help you meet your increased antioxidant needs.
Water is crucial for your body to function properly, and your hydration needs increase even more during pregnancy. It is recommended to drink 64 – 96 ounces of water throughout pregnancy. Cucumbers are composed of 96% water which can help you meet your hydration needs throughout pregnancy.
Decreases risk of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia typically begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can appear even in women with previously normal blood pressure levels. Diets rich in fiber, potassium, and other nutrients may reduce the risk of preeclampsia. Eating cucumber during pregnancy can increase your fiber and potassium intake.
B vitamins play a crucial role in many cellular functions, including the release of glucose to be used in your body as energy. Cucumbers contain B vitamins, including folate, and may help with that energy boost you are looking for during pregnancy.
A low calorie, low fat, high fiber, high water and nutrient dense snack option, cucumbers can help you meet your weight goals throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
Constipation during pregnancy is common due to the rise in progesterone. With its higher water and fiber content, eating cucumbers can help fight off pregnancy constipation and keep your bowels regular.
Swelling during pregnancy is normal, however there are some ways you can help reduce it such as including foods higher in potassium in your diet. The higher potassium content of cucumbers helps to reduce water retention and helps to prevent pregnancy swelling.
Enhances skin elasticity
As your body and skin stretches and grows to make room for your baby, supplying your body with nutrients to support skin health is important. Vitamin C helps with collagen formation and reduces toxic oxidants, both of which improve overall skin elasticity. Cucumbers are an excellent source of Vitamin C, meeting 10% of your Vitamin C needs during pregnancy in one cucumber.
Blood sugar regulation
Low in calories and carbohydrates, while rich in fiber, cucumbers make for a great snack option for those watching their blood sugars. Whether you have gestational diabetes or type two diabetes while pregnant and are watching your blood sugar, non-starchy vegetables such as cucumbers are a recommended snack option by the American Diabetes Association.
Supports baby’s bone development
Vitamin K plays an essential role in baby’s overall bone health. It also can improve the expecting mother’s bone health and prevent bone related pain. One cucumber provides almost half of your vitamin K needs during pregnancy.
Nutrient dense snack option
As mentioned above, cucumbers are low in calories and fat, and rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a go-to snack option. Not only are they healthy for you, they are convenient too! See below for ideas on ways to enjoy cucumber during pregnancy.
Ways to Enjoy Cucumber During Pregnancy
Cucumbers are a crunchy and convenient snack and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways! Here are some ideas below:
- Chopped up in salads
- Blended into smoothies
- Sliced with other vegetables along with some dip such as hummus or tzatziki
- Add them to sandwiches or wraps
- Juice them
- Flavor water with them
- Enjoy them on their own with a dash of salt and vinegar
Safety First: Tips for Preparing Cucumber During Pregnancy
While cucumbers are a healthy food choice during pregnancy, there are some safety tips to keep in mind:
Avoid pre-cut, packaged cucumber during pregnancy
Pre-cut cucumber sticks and slices carry a small, yet significant risk of listeria contamination. This is not only cucumbers, but all pre-cut packaged fruits and vegetables carry this risk, and are one of the leading causes of listeriosis.
Pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeria compared to the general population, and if infected while pregnant, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm labor.
Wash, wash, wash!
Whole cucumbers, packaged or not, carry a risk of listeria or Toxoplasma Gondii contamination. It is highly recommended and encouraged to wash them thoroughly when you get home.
Wash them under clean running water right away. There is no need to use harsh cleaning agents or soaps. The key is to use running water so that the bacteria can run off of the produce and into the sink, rather than sitting in the water.
Eating Cucumber During Pregnancy
Offering many health benefits, eating cucumber is good during pregnancy, in moderation, and when washed thoroughly. Whether you enjoy them chopped up into salads, blended into smoothies, sliced and dipped into homemade hummus or tzatziki, share with me your favorite way to enjoy cucumber during pregnancy in the comments below!