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Friday, February 19, 2016

You can't be allergic to cucumber. Can you?

It’s just made of water and little bit of fibre, isn’t it? 
Cucumbers are actually made up of about 96% water, have only 5 calories per ounce and a small amount of vitamin C and trace minerals. 
Cucumbers are a healthy fruit from the marrow family which also includes pumpkin, courgette and other squashes which are also called gourds. They are creeping vines and grow low along the ground.
100 grams of cucumber contains:
  • Vitamin A        180 I.U.
  • Niacin             Trace
  • Vitamin C        9 mg.
  • Calcium           32 mg.
  • Iron                1.8 mg.
  • Phosphorus      27 mg.
  • Potassium        80 mg.
  • Carbohydrates 17 gm.
  • Calories           70
Bet you weren’t expecting the humble cuke to contain all that now were you?
Some of the reported health benefits include:
  • Cucumber is best natural diuretic known, secreting and promoting the flow of urine
  • Helps in kidney and urinary bladder disease, Liver disease and Pancreatic disease
  • The potassium content of cucumber makes it highly useful for conditions of high and low blood pressure.
  • Cucumber contains erepsin, the enzyme that helps to digest protein
  • The high silicon and sulphur content of the cucumber is said to promote the growth of hair, especially when the juice of the cucumber is added to the juice of carrot, lettuce and spinach.
  • A mixture of cucumber juice with carrot juice is said to be beneficial for rheumatic conditions resulting from excessive uric acid in the body.
  • Cucumber juice is also valuable for helping diseases of the teeth, gums, especially in cases of pyorrhea.
  • The high mineral content of this vegetable also helps to prevent splitting of nails of the fingers and toes.
  • Cucumber, radish and bitter gourd are beneficial in diabetes.
So what is it about cucumber that might cause an allergic reaction?

What is oral allergy syndrome?

Oral Allergy Sydrome (OAS) is an IgE-mediated immune response, which is sometimes called a “true allergy”. The body’s immune system produces IgE antibodies against pollen; in OAS, these antibodies also bind to (or cross-react with) other structurally similar proteins found in botanically related plants.
So basically, somebody with hay fever to certain pollen may also react to one or more fruits, herbs or vegetables which have a similar protein structure. The body recognises the food as an allergen and can cause tingling around the mouth, lips and tongue.
People with hay fever to ragweed pollen may also cross react with: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, honey (if bees pollinate from wild flowers), hibiscus or chamomile tea.
This reaction may come and go and be more severe during the hay fever season.
So, basically, yes you can have an allergy type reaction to cucumber but it’s likely to be caused by oral allergy syndrome and not be a true, life threatening allergy.
However, it is possible for someone to be allergic to just about anything, so whilst it’s very rare, someone could be allergic to cucumber. It’s far more common in Far Eastern countries.

Salicylate in cucumber

Cucumbers also come under the umbrella of foods containing salicylates which are chemicals which occur naturally in many foods, the skin of some fruit, tea and aspirin. If you are sensitive to salicylate you may experience wheezing and urticaria. Different foods contain different levels of the chemical. Visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website for a full list of foods that contain high levels of salicylates.

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