Fresh cucumber extracts have also been shown to reduce unwanted inflammation in animal studies. Cucumber accomplishes this task by inhibiting activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), and by preventing overproduction of nitric oxide in situations where it could increase the likelihood of excessive inflammation.
As it turns out, cucumbers are also great cancer fighters, too! Well, research on the anti-cancer benefits of cucumber is still in its preliminary stage and has been restricted thus far to lab and animal studies. Interestingly, however, many pharmaceutical companies are actively studying one group of compounds found in cucumber—called cucurbitacins—in the hope that their research may lead to development of new anti-cancer drugs. Cucurbitacins belong to a large family of phytonutrients called triterpenes. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E have all been identified within fresh cucumber. Researchers have determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and cancer cell survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins. Eventually, we expect to see human studies that confirm the anti-cancer benefits of cucumbers when consumed in a normal, everyday meal plan.
Cucumber plants grow in two forms: vining and bush. Vines scramble along the ground or clamber up trellises, while bush types, such as Burpless Bush Hybrid, form a more compact plant. Generally, vining cucumbers yield more fruit throughout the growing season. Bush selections are especially suited to containers and small gardens. You can increase the season’s yield of bush varieties by planting several crops in succession 2 weeks apart.
Set cucumber plants at the base of your trellis and mulch after planting unless the soil could use a little more warming.
Cucumbers need warm, fertile soil and work compost or composted manure into soil. Plant seedlings 36 to 60 inches apart, depending on variety. For vines trained on a trellis, space plants 1 foot apart. Keep them watered and they will reward you with a summertime full of tasty, healthy treats!