If you're looking for a vegetable that's nutritious, tasty, and refreshing to add to your weight-loss roster, it's hard to go wrong with a good old-fashioned cucumber.

Cucumbers were first grown in ancient India starting in around the 2nd millennium BC, and they've never gone out of style since. They're the 4th most cultivated vegetable in the world, and worldwide production in 2017 was a whopping 83 million metric tons!

Maybe that's because they're so good for us. Cucumbers are about 95 percent water, which means they're great for staying hydrated. A 5-ounce serving provides 26 percent of your recommended daily water intake while only providing about 21 calories.

One raw cucumber also contains 62 percent of your daily value of Vitamin K, 16 percent of your Vitamin C, 10 percent of your magnesium, 13 percent of your potassium, and 12 percent of your manganese, along with smaller amounts of several B vitamins.

Cucumber also contains an anti-inflammatory compound called fisetin, which has been found to keep even mice who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease from developing memory impairments. Research suggests that similar neuro-protective effects of fisetin may be evident in humans.

Special polyphenols found in cucumbers like cucurbitacins and lignans have also been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers, while flavonoids and tannins may have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.

The phytochemicals found in cucumbers may also help you fight bad breath by promoting saliva production and killing harmful bacteria. Cucumbers' electrolyte content also makes them a good bet for warding off hangovers if you chomp on a few slices before bed after a night on the town, and their high fiber status means they can reduce your risk of constipation.

The following three delicious recipes can help you stay cool as a cucumber on your weight loss journey!

Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cucumber
  • Sliced strawberries
  • 1 serving strawberry vinaigrette
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • Stevia to taste

Directions

Slice strawberries and cucumber. Toss with strawberries, dressing, stevia and pepper to taste. Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes. Makes 1-2 servings (1 vegetable, 1 fruit).

Cucumber Orange Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • Orange slices (1 orange)
  • Orange juice from 3 segments
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon minced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia to taste
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions

Combine apple cider vinegar, stevia, onion, and spices and mix well. Add cucumber and orange slices, tarragon, salt, and pepper to taste. Marinate for 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Makes one serving (1 vegetable, 1 fruit). Phase 3 modifications: Drizzle with hazelnut oil, top with toasted pine nuts.

Chargrilled Steak with Cucumber and Carrot

Ingredients

  • 550 gms beef
  • Scotch fillet steaks
  • Olive oil spray
  • 20o g ms Italian-style salad greens
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers, peeled into ribbons
  • 2 carrots (medium size) peeled into ribbons
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) balsamic dressing

Directions

Preheat a chargrill on medium-high. Spray both sides of the steaks with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium. Cook the steaks for 23 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside for 3 minutes to rest. Combine the salad, cucumber and dressing in a large bowl. Thickly slice the steaks diagonally across the grain. Add to the salad. Toss to combine. Serves 4.

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