Cucumbers are the Jeremy Lin of vegetables—easy to forget about, despite an occasional hot streak. But when you do remember them—so, so good. Given their extreme palatability and 96 percent water content (we're talking about cukes now, not Lin), it's easy to wonder, do they really have any impact on your health?
The short answer: Hell yes. The long answer? Here:
Cucumbers can help "deflate" your skin. It's not exactly sexy to think of your skin popping like a balloon, but let's face it: Sometimes that's what we wish would happen after a night of greasy, salty foods, or when too much alcohol turns your midsection into a puffer fish. Cucumbers can actually help temper that bloat if you use it topically. Lance Brown, a surgical and cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, says it works similarly to aloe, having "a cooling and soothing effect that decreases swelling, irritation, and inflammation." So just like they do in the movies and stock photos for spas, cut up a few chilled slices and place them on your eyes to reduce swelling in the AM. And if there are areas of your skin that feel irritated AF, gently swipe a slice there too and watch the redness simmer on down.
They can relieve constipation. Fiber is the nutrient your body relies on to keep things moving through your digestive system, and if you're not getting enough of it, well, things get backed up. Which is unpleasant, to say the least. You'll want to get 25 to 38 grams of fiber into your diet each day, and while beans, acorn squash, and artichokes are solid sources of it, culinary nutritionist Tricia Williams says cucumbers are a top source, too. Just keep the skin on so you get a hit of insoluble fiber, which bulks up your poo to quickly coerce it through the digestive tract.
And get rid of bad breath. Bad breath usually happens when there's too much bacteria toying around your tonsils. (Or just in your mouth, if your parents had those tonsils yanked out when you were a kid.) But saliva production can counteract that, flushing out the bacteria and neutralizing any odors that it causes, says Williams. What boosts saliva production? Crunchy, fiber-rich, water-loaded veggies like cucumbers.
They're a low-impact anti-ager. There's a reason why cucumbers are often listed on the label of skincare ingredients: They contain three types of phytonutrients—cucurbitacin, lignans, and flavonoids—that Brown says "provide valuable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may help 'reprogram' the structural component of your skin." This basically means they might help fight wrinkles—"might" being the key word there though, because while Brown says there has been anecdotal evidence to back up the claim, there hasn't been a whole lot of scientific research done. Still, cucumbers also have ascorbic acid—a.k.a. vitamin C—and scientists have found that may promote collagen production to stave off those Trumpocalypse-induced wrinkles.
And can treat a sunburn. Those flavonoids we mentioned above? Not only can they serve up antioxidant benefits, but they may also help reduce pain thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, Brown says. The caffeic acid found in the veggie can help too, he adds, given its ability to sooth skin irritations and reduce swelling (though this is his professional take, more research is needed to really be sure). Place a cold sliver directly on the area you've burned for immediate—albeit temporary—relief.