Yes, if you have diabetes, you can eat cucumbers. In fact, since they’re so low in carbohydrates, you can almost eat as many as you want whenever you want.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) considers cucumber a non-starchy vegetable, the “one food group where you can satisfy your appetite.” A from Newcastle University even suggested that a low-calorie diet based on non-starchy vegetables might prove effective in reversing type 2 diabetes.
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) belong to the same botanical family as melons and squashes. Commercially grown cucumbers are typically divided into two types: “slicing cucumbers” for fresh consumption and “pickling cucumbers” for processing into pickles.
Low in calories and high in nutrients, 1/2 cup of sliced raw cucumber contains:
- calories: 8
- carbohydrates: 1.89 grams
- dietary fiber: 0.3 grams
- sugars: 0.87 grams
- protein: 0.34 grams
- fat: 0.06 grams
Cucumbers also provide:
Cucumbers are good sources of plant chemicals with protective or disease preventive properties called phytonutrients such as:
The glycemic index (GI) affects how food affects blood sugar (blood glucose). A high glycemic index food can heighten your blood sugar level. The glycemic index of cucumber is 15. Any food with a GI less than 55 is considered low.
For comparison purposes, here’s the GI of other fruit:
- grapefruit: 25
- apples: 38
- bananas: 52
- watermelon: 72
Animal studies linking cucumber extracts to lower blood glucose measurements exist, but they’re limited. More research is necessary.
- A concluded that diabetic rats had a decrease in blood sugars after a nine-day diet of cucumber seed extract.
- A 2012 study indicated that cucumber’s phytonutrients are linked to blood sugar lowering effects in diabetic rats.
- A 2014 research paper published in the Journal of Medicinal Plant Research demonstrated that cucumber pulp could be used effectively for the treatment and management of diabetes in rats.
These studies used cucumber extracts. There’s no evidence that whole cucumbers would have provided the same benefit.
Although more research is needed to see if cucumbers might be an effective treatment for diabetes, they’re a nutritious vegetable that can be eaten relatively freely in a diabetes meal plan.
Talk to your doctor about a diet that can help manage blood sugars. If you want greater detail or a customized meal plan, consider consulting with a dietician.
If you’re planning on radically altering your eating habits, review your thoughts with your doctor before you start.