When you’re following the keto diet, you quickly find out that carbs can come from some unusual sources.
That vegetable you thought would be low-carb can turn out to be packed full of sugar, especially if it’s a fruit masquerading as a vegetable! So, where does the cucumber fit in?
Cucumbers are technically a fruit, even if they tend to be eaten as a vegetable. They have a mild taste, a crunchy texture, and a high water content.
They’re also relatively low in carbohydrates. If you’re following a keto diet, there’s plenty of room for cucumbers!
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the nutritional value of cucumbers and why this salad food is good for the keto diet. We’ll also explore some ways to add cucumbers to your meal.
They’re not just for salads — there are many fun ways to enjoy cucumbers!
What Are Cucumbers?
Cucumbers are a fruit — yes, not a vegetable — that are often eaten in salads and as snacks. Originally cultivated in Asia, but now eaten across the world, cucumbers are used as a culinary vegetable.
Cucumbers are a distinctive fruit. They’re long and green, with dark skin and a pale interior. They can grow to be very long and wide or harvested when small and thin.
There are quite a few cucumber varieties, but they tend to be separated into three groups: slicing, pickled, and seedless.
Slicing cucumbers are eaten fresh. They’re known for a delicate and mild flavor, sometimes with a slight sweetness. The rind has a slightly stronger flavor, sometimes with a bitter edge.
Seedless cucumbers are also eaten fresh, but they have thinner skin. You might spot these wrapped in plastic in grocery stores.
The plastic is to protect the cucumber from damage. These are known for their pleasant flavor and lack of seeds (which can make for easier digestion).
The third variety, pickled, is cucumbers that have been flavored in brine. In this article, we aren’t focusing on pickled cucumbers. The brine introduces lots of new nutritional information and it often contains sugar.
Cucumbers are broadly known as a healthy food. They have a high water count and a low-calorie count, making them popular with dieters. The mild flavor also makes cucumbers adaptable for different salads and recipes.
Cucumber Nutrition Guide
Cucumbers are made up of roughly 96% water. They’re very low in calories, low in carbs, and low in fats. Let’s take a look at the nutrition count in a little more detail.
A single regular unpeeled cucumber weighing 200g contains roughly:
- 7.2 grams total carbs
- 6.2 grams net carbs
- 1 gram fiber
- 30 calories
- 0.2 grams fat
- 1.3 grams protein
Of course, most of us don’t eat an entire cucumber in one go. We’re much more likely to consume cucumber as slices, cucumber sticks, or as part of a salad.
Peeled cucumbers have an even lower carb count. A medium peeled cucumber contains roughly 4.3 grams of total carbs and 2.9 grams of net carbs. However, the peel is where a lot of the healthy fibers, vitamins, and minerals are.
The Health Benefits Of Eating Cucumbers
We tend to think of eating and drinking as two different things, but cucumbers are one of those foods that do both. Cucumbers are roughly 96% water. They’re incredibly hydrating. Eating cucumbers can help you reach your water consumption goals.
The importance of hydration can’t be overstated. A hydrated body can regulate body temperature better, prevent infection, transfer nutrients, and keep everything functioning.
When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to perform both mentally and physically.
Consuming cucumber is an excellent and healthy way to up your hydration levels. It’s particularly useful for those who struggle to drink water throughout the day.
A quick cucumber snack can help you stay hydrated and curb snack cravings.
The low-calorie, high-water content of cucumbers can help with your weight loss journey. Eating ½ cup of cucumber provides relatively little calories, but leaves you feeling full.
If you snack during the day, consider switching an unhealthy snack food with sliced cucumber.
High water content can also promote regularity. The combination of high water content and fiber can regulate bowel movement and improve digestive health.
As well as water, cucumbers contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Cucumbers contain vitamins C and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and manganese. To get the most of these nutrients, eat cucumber with the skin on.
Cucumbers are also rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants block oxidation, which can lead to chronic illness including cancer and autoimmune disease.
Test tube studies have found that cucumbers contain flavonoids and tannins, which are particularly well suited to blocking the free radicals that cause oxidation.
Can You Eat Cucumbers On The Keto Diet?
Yes, you can eat cucumbers on the keto diet! 200g of cucumber contains roughly 7.2g of total carbs and 6.2g of net carbs. As you very rarely eat 200g of cucumber in one day, that’s even fewer carbs you’ll be consuming!
You can reduce the carb count even more by peeling the cucumber. The same cucumber, peeled, contains just 4.3g total carbs and 2.9g net carbs.
However, the cucumber peel contains a lot of the cucumber’s nutrients, so you might want to leave it on.
Cucumbers are low in carbs, but they’re still best eaten in moderation. A ½ cup of cucumber is a good serving size — enough to satisfy while keeping the carb levels low.
As you can enjoy cucumbers on the keto diet, let’s take a look at some ways to eat them:
- Cucumber slice crackers. Crackers and bread typically have a high calorie count, but they’re a great way to enjoy some of your favorite foods. Instead of piling your smoked salmon pate onto a cracker, spread it onto a cucumber slice.
- Cucumber dipping sticks. Whipped up a batch of your favorite keto-friendly dip? Try slicing a cucumber into batons and using it as a keto alternative to chips. The mild flavor of cucumber means it goes well with most dips and dressings.
- Easy salads. Cucumber is an excellent addition to a range of salads. The gentle flavor means it plays well with a host of salad ingredients and dressings. Diced cucumber, massaged kale, and some slices of avocado are a delicious keto-salad base.
- Add some crunch to your lunch. Lunch can be a difficult meal on the keto diet, as you have to steer clear of most breads and sandwiches. But that doesn’t mean lunch has to be boring! Cucumbers can add a fun crunch to your favorite low-carb wrap.
- As A Wrap. Use a vegetable peeler to transform your cucumber into long thin ribbons. Load these ribbons with your favorite filling (we love some spicy salmon) and a keto-friendly dip, and get rolling! It’s a fun snack and a great lunch for kids.
- For snacking. If you tend to spend long days at your desk, cucumbers are a great snack. Not only do they provide you with vitamins and minerals, but they also up your water intake. You’ll remain happy, hydrated, and satisfied.
- Healthy salsa. Making your own salsa is a great way to add a spicy hit to your food while avoiding a high sugar content. Try dicing some cucumber into your salsa, to make the ingredients stretch further.
- Quick cucumber relish. A quick, easy, and delicious way to use cucumber is to make it into a relish. Slice your cucumbers, toss them in a spoonful of vinegar, and finish with a sprinkle of chili powder. The sharp taste can cut through meat-heavy dishes.
- Pickled cucumber. You can enjoy pickled cucumber on a keto diet, but homemade is the way to go! Pickle brines often use sugar, increasing the carb count. When you make pickles at home, you can use a simple brine with no sugar.
When you start to follow the keto diet, you’ll quickly discover new ways to use your old favorite foods.
You might be used to tossing some sliced cucumbers with your salad, but now is the time to explore what else this impressive fruit/vegetable can do!
With low calories and a small number of carbohydrates, cucumbers are a healthy addition to any keto diet. They’re great at keeping you hydrated, plus they contain essential vitamins and minerals.
We love using cucumber slices as crackers and chips. The mild taste and crunchy consistency mean they’re perfect for scooping up dip or topping with a keto-friendly cheese.
But they can also be used in salads and salsas, or added to wraps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, cucumbers are keto-friendly! Cucumbers are low in both calories and carbohydrates, but they’re high in water, antioxidants, and nutrients. Healthy cucumbers are an excellent addition to the keto diet.
200g of unpeeled cucumber contains roughly 7.2g of total carbs and 6.2g of net carbs. You can cut the carb count even further by peeling the cucumber. However, the peel does contain much of the nutrients.