Vitality

Sea Cucumber Health Benefits That Will Surprise You

Sea cucumbers are not a variation of the vegetable, but is a type of seafood consumed in Asian and Middle Easterm cuisine. They resemble enlarged versions of caterpillars moving at a sluggish pace. The ingredient is most commonly consumed in a dried form, popularly called the bêche-de-meror trepang and is cooked often with soups and stews. 

The bland and slippery textured seafood can also be consumed in other forms, be it in raw or pickled form. It tastes best when mixed with spices, added flavors, meats and seafood. 

The sea cucumber is supposed to have healing properties, as per traditional Chinese medicine, which is why it is infused in creams, cosmetics and oils, as well as in oral supplements. It can allegedly treat arthritis and cancer, among other issues. However, more research is needed to conclude any major health benefits. 

Several species of the cucumber are excessively fished out of the ocean, leading to its mass extinction. As a solution to meet the rising demand, fisheries are farming them in a sustainable manner.

Here are some of its purported benefits, according to a recent story on Healthline.

Nutrition And Compounds

For every 112 grams, about 14 grams of protein can be derived, also providing 60 calories. Therefore, being a good food choice for people battling diabetes and high blood sugar since they aim to follow a protein diet with little or no fat. It also provides 81 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin B2 and 22 percent of vitamin B3. 

Among the compounds, sea cucumbers have flavonoid antioxidants, known to reduce inflammation, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases. Sea cucumbers also have triterpene glycosides, which boost the immune system and are antifungal in nature. 

Cancer

More research needs to verify the effect of compounds in sea cucumbers on reducing cancer especially since they contain triterpene diglycoside, which, according to one test-tube study, kills breast, prostate, liver and skin cancer cells. Additional safety tests are needed to understand this further. 

Stops Growth Of Harmful Bacteria

Sea cucumber extracts can prevent the growth of  certain bacteria such as E. coli, S. aureus, and S. typhi. This is according to a test-tube study done on black sea cucumber extract. Another study tested on rats found that black sea cucumber helps fight sepsis. All of the claims need to be further investigated, however. 

Heart Health

A few studies with rats that suffered from high blood pressure were fed white-bottomed sea cucumber extract, and compared to rats not fed the extract. The former showed reductions in blood pressure, therefore maintaining good heart health. 

Precaution

A few species might interfere with blood-thinning medication since they have anticoagulant properties, leading to further thinning of the blood. It should not be consumed by people taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin because taking the concentrated supplement form could cause bleeding. Moreover, cross contamination of sea cucumbers with shellfish could be detrimental to people with shellfish allergies. 

GettyImages-162229122 SINGAPORE: Sea-cucumber's are displayed for sale at the Singapore Chinatown Complex Wet Market on February 21, 2013 in Singapore. The Chinatown Complex Wet Market is a traditional Asian food market popular with elder Singaporeans that features fresh seafood, meat, vegetables, Chinese groceries and a variety of exotic delicacies. by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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