Pregnant women should increase their intake of nutrient-dense food, and that includes plenty of fruit and veggies. Cucumbers are one of the most popular and nutritious choices in pregnancy. Here, I’ll address the best ways of eating cucumber – including the one type of cucumber you should be cautious with.
Cucumbers are safe to eat during pregnancy. However, ensure the cucumber is thoroughly washed, and avoid pre-packaged or pre-cut cucumbers where possible.
In this article, I deal with why you should always wash cucumbers, their nutritional value in pregnancy and some tips on cucumber dishes you can eat safely.
Are Cucumbers Good During Pregnancy? The Benefits
Cucumbers are a healthy, low-calorie and nutritious snack, and are a good option for pregnant women. Fresh cucumbers are around 95-96% water (source: Nutrition Data) making them an excellent way of preventing dehydration during pregnancy. The fact that they’re rich in fiber also prevents pregnancy-related constipation, too.
Cucumbers contain a surprising amount of minerals and nutrients. Eaten with the skin on, they’re low in salt (sodium), fat and cholesterol, as you might expect for a fruit. Yes, they’re technically a fruit, not a vegetable!
It also makes them a good option for juicing, or making ‘cucumber water’ when you’re fed up of drinking plain water in pregnancy (for other ideas on what to drink, check out my article on 10 drinks besides water you can enjoy when pregnant).
Cucumbers are also good sources of Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, C and K, and Pantothenic Acid (source: ND).
Benefits of Eating Cucumbers When Pregnant
There are several benefits of eating cucumber during pregnancy. Here are just a few:
- They’re a perfect snack.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, ‘crunchy’ foods have better satiation properties. In other words, if you’re feeling peckish and want a snack, crunchy food is more satisfying. It’s why a lot of (unhealthy) snacks also tend to be crunchy, but cucumbers have the added benefit of being good for you, so they’re an excellent snacking choice.
- They’re Easy to Incorporate Into Your Pregnancy Diet
Sometimes it’s hard to make the lifestyle changes that pregnancy demands, such as upping your fruit and veg intake. Cucumbers are cheap, easy to find and easy to incorporate into your diet as you can have them on their own, drink them juiced, flavor water with them, add them to salads or create healthy dips or sauces with them.
- They Won’t Cause a Blood Sugar Spike
If you have Gestational Diabetes or are watching your blood sugar levels, cucumbers are ideal as they are very low in carbs. According to the American Diabetic Association, cucumbers are something you can actively eat more of without worrying about their impact on blood sugar.
Are All Cucumbers Safe to Eat When Pregnant?
Since cucumber is such a good choice in pregnancy, you should aim to incorporate it into your diet if you can. However, pregnant women should avoid pre-cut, packaged cucumbers. This includes pre-cut cucumber sticks and slices, such as the ones bought in bags or as part of a salad bar or buffet.
Pre-prepared bagged salads and pre-cut fruit and veg carry a small but significant risk of listeria contamination. The risk is low, but pre-cut fruit and veg and bagged salads are one of the leading causes of listeriosis (source: Journal of Food Control).
Buffets and salad bars are also prone to cross-contamination, so cucumber from these should also be avoided.
Why Pregnant Women Should Always Wash Cucumbers Before Eating Them
Pre-packaged whole cucumbers are fine, as they should be washed when you get them home. The same applies, whether the whole cucumber was in packaging or not – they should always be washed.
Any fruit or vegetable grown on or near the ground may be contaminated with Toxoplasma Gondii (which is present in soil) or Listeria (which is present in water) and therefore need to be washed thoroughly, or peeled (source: PMC).
As many of the nutrients in cucumber are in its skin, it’s better to wash them thoroughly rather than peel them, though this is a personal preference.
According to the International Journal of Food MicroBiology, cucumbers can be one of the hardest vegetables to wash when trying to remove any potential listeria contamination.
Use a specialist veggie wash and veg brush, and clean the cucumber thoroughly before eating. If you want some food prep recommendations for produce, you can read about that here.
Again, remember the risk of contracting listeriosis remains very low, but it’s always best to thoroughly wash fruit and veg in pregnancy, and prepare them yourself rather than buying pre-cut or bagged salads.
Can I Eat Cucumbers in the First, Second And Third Trimesters?
Pregnant women can eat cucumbers in all trimesters of pregnancy, so long as the cucumber is thoroughly washed before being eaten. Again, pregnant women should avoid pre-bagged and pre-cut cucumbers, and cucumbers from buffets or salad bars throughout their pregnancy.
Can I Drink Cucumber Water in Pregnancy?
Cucumber water (sometimes called lemon and cucumber water if citrus is added, too) is a popular choice for pregnant women as hydration is important, but drinking plain water can get very boring. Cucumber water is fine in pregnancy if the cucumber (or other fruit) is thoroughly washed first (see above).
For more ideas on what to drink, you might like to read another article I wrote on ten drinks pregnant women can enjoy, besides water. Lemon and cucumber water would be classed as an ‘infusion’, so safe in pregnancy. Some prefer to boil the water first and add the cucumbers when it’s cooled down a bit, to extract more flavor.
Can I Eat Cucumbers and Vinegar (Marinated Cucumbers) When Pregnant?
Cucumbers and vinegar are a popular snack and salad item, not to be confused with pickles (which are pickled whole cucumbers). Cucumbers in vinegar are often called marinated/marinaded cucumbers or ‘quick pickle’‘.
Pregnant women can eat cucumbers and vinegar safely in pregnancy, if the cucumbers were thoroughly washed first. According to Frontiers in Microbiology, vinegar does have some anti-bacterial effect on fruit and veg, so cucumbers in vinegar may carry a lower risk of bacterial contamination.
However, appropriate washing should always take place before eating cucumbers, or dressing them with vinegar or salad dressing.
Vinegar itself is safe to consume in pregnancy, though as it’s acidic it may cause heartburn, which is something to watch out for if you’ve been prone to it in your pregnancy.
Overall, cucumbers are a nutritious, healthy choice that can be safely enjoyed in pregnancy, if they’re washed and prepared properly beforehand.