According to a latest research, the compounds found in cucumber that create the bitter taste can be capable of treating cancer and diabetes.
The genes that cause the bitter taste in wild cucumber were identified by the researchers at University of California. Compounds called cucurbitacins give bitter flavour to wild cucurbits, the family that includes cucumber, pumpkin, melon, watermelon and squash.
The wild cucurbits leaves and fruits have been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years, as emetics and purgatives and to cure liver disease. In a recent development, the researchers showed that cucubitacins could kill or suppress the growth of cancer cells.
William Lucas, the co-author of the study, said that in this new research it has been shown how domestication tweaked cucumber genetics to change the fruit into an edible one.
Understanding this process can open the prospect of developing other food crops based on plants that are naturally inedible or poor in nutrition. This could also make the production of cucurbitacins in large quantities easier which can be used in clinical trials and potentially in medicine.
The findings of the research will be published in journal Science.
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