As the summer heat wilts your skin, your smile, and your appetite, focus on cool fruit and vegetable snacks. My favorite summer skin refresher is the cucumber. The more I learn about cucumbers there more astounded I am by all of its magical properties. Who knew?!
Cucumbers, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, belong to the same botanical family as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe) and squashes (including summer squash, winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin). I became addicted to them thanks to the innovative cooking of the Serbian grandmother of my child. At every meal grandma serves a cucumber salad. Sometimes the cucumbers are chopped and mixed with plain yogurt, dill, lemon juice and olive oil and sometimes with mint and feta.
Cucumbers are an excellent palate cleanser and refresh the mouth and breath. (They are also a fantastic flirtation-starter for those of you who like to send a suggestive message to the opposite sex in the vegetable aisle of the store… Though some men may wilt when faced with the more intimidating specimens of Cucumis sativus, a little fondling of the impressive cucumber may rev your engines…And who knows what could happen then?)
But why are they so magical?? Here are 30 reasons:
1. Cucumbers are low in calories containing just 15 grams of calories per 100 grams. They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.
2. Cucumber peel is an excellent source of dietary fiber and can reduce constipation, indigestion and prevent stomach related diseases by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
3. Cucumbers have healing attributes for the bladder and kidney. The water content in cucumber aids the function of kidney by promoting urination. Regular consumption of cucumber can help dissolve kidney stones over time.
4. Digestive problems like heartburn, acidity, gastritis and even ulcers can be cured by daily consumption of cucumbers or cucumber juice. Cucumbers contain an enzyme called erepsin which aids in the digestion of protein.
5. The seeds of cucumbers are highly beneficial and are considered a natural remedy for the elimination of tape worms. They also have strong anti-inflammatory properties which are effective at treating swelling of mucous membranes in the nose and throat.
6. Cucumbers are one of the best sources of potassium and contain 147 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams. This heart friendly electrolyte reduces blood pressure level in the body and reduces heart rate by minimizing the effects of sodium.
7. Cucumbers contain hearty levels of antioxidants like B carotene, a carotene, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds act as scavengers against free radicals that can lead to aging and age related diseases.
8. Fresh cucumber extracts are known to reduce unwanted inflammation. They accomplish the task by inhibiting activity of inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxyenase and by preventing over production of nitric oxides which leads to excessive inflammation.
9. The copper in cucumbers helps produce healthy blood cells and improves blood circulation.
10. Cucumbers contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol. These lignans are strongly connected to reducing the risk of developing several kinds of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer. Bacteria found in our digestive tract takes hold of the lignans and converts them to enterolignans. The enterolignans bind to the estrogens receptors to reduce estrogens related diseases like cancer. Cucumbers are a rich source of triterpene phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E are all contained in fresh cucumber. They have been the subject of active and ongoing research to determine the extent and nature of their anti-cancer properties. Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins.
11. Cucumber cares for dental health by combating bad breath. The vegetable releases phytochemicals which kill the bacteria that can lead to bad breath. Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of the mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds and then try kissing someone! Raw cucumber increases salivation and brings a neutralization of acids and alkali in oral cavity. Cucumber juice can effectively treat gum diseases like pyorrhea and weak gums.
12. Cucumber can be used to cure hangovers and the headaches associated with it. They rehydrate the body with nutrients and eliminate toxins. If you have drunk too much (try to remember to), eat a few cucumber slices before bed. The vitamin B and electrolytes will reduce agony the next day.
13. Cumber has mild diuretic properties owing to its high potassium and water content. It also has a high level of manganese, potassium and fiber which regulate blood pressure and treat both high and low blood pressure. Steam produced while boiling cucumber acts as a stress reliever and calms and relaxes the senses and muscles.
14. Cucumbers contain 95% water so they naturally hydrate and replenish the body and eliminate toxins.
15. The vitamin K in cucumbers plays an important role in strengthening bones. (Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is most well known for the important role it plays in blood clotting. However, vitamin K is also absolutely essential to building strong bones, preventing heart disease, and crucial part of other bodily processes.) Cucumbers also contain high levels of silica which promote joint health by strengthening connective tissue. Cucumbers are also an excellent source of calcium making them perfect for a vegan diet. Getting enough calcium also maintains the body’s hormonal balance by controlling hormone release.
16. The copper in cucumber also helps make neurotransmitters – the chemicals the brain needs to communicate.
Skin Benefits of Cucumber:
Many hair and skin care products are manufactured with cucumber as a main ingredient. The raw vegetable is often used in beauty parlors in facial treatments to reduce wrinkles and puffiness around the eyes. Some of the major skin benefits of cucumber include:
17. The greatest and most important skin benefit of cucumber is the revitalization of skin. Facial masks containing cucumber juice help tighten skin.
18. Cucumbers have a mild bleaching property which can slightly reduce a skin tan.
19. Cucumbers can provide instant relief for puffy eyes. The ascorbic and caffeic acid in cucumbers reduces water retention which, in turn, diminishes swelling and puffiness around the eyes.
20. Putting cucumber slices or puree on sunburnt skin brings instant relief. Thus cucumber is a gentle way to treat sun burn.
21. The most common use of cucumber pulp and juice is to rejuvenate the skin. Mix cucumber juice with a few drop of lemon juice and apply it as a facial mask.
22. You can use cucumber to treat large pores. Extract cucumber juice and use it as a toner. You can also mix it with apple cider vinegar, tomato pulp and Aloe Vera gel.
23. Cucumber helps reduce cellulite. Mix ground coffee with cucumber juice and raw honey to make a thick paste. Apply this on the affected areas, wrap it in muslin cloth and exfoliate gently after 30 minutes. Eating cucumber also helps fight cellulite.
24. Cucumbers contain 95% of water which keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized. Its seeds are rich in Vitamin E and potassium which help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes.
25. Cucumber slices around the eyes can quickly reduce dark circles. The abundance of antioxidants and silica within the cucumber rejuvenate the skin and fade dark circles. Place two slices of cucumbers on the eyes and leave for 20 minutes or soak two cotton balls in cucumber juice and place them on your eyes.
26. You can use grated cucumber to treat freckles and blemishes. Apply cucumber juice all over the face to treat freckles and spots.
Cucumber as a Face Pack:
Cucumber offers multiple benefits when used as a face pack. Grated cucumber and cucumber juice can be used as a key component in facial masks to treat wrinkles, pimples and other skin problems.
- Take a fresh Cucumber and blend it in a blender to make a fine paste. Add some lemon juice drops and 1 teaspoon of honey to it. Apply it all over the face and leave it for 20 minutes. Wash it off with tap water and pat dry. This face pack will help to reverse tanning.
- Mix turmeric and lemon juice with fresh cucumber pulp. Apply to the face and leave for 15 minutes. Wash off after it dries. This controls oil secretion.
- Mix a teaspoon of oats with cucumber pulp and leave aside for half an hour. Apply it on the face and neck and leave it to dry for 20 minutes. This face pack is very effective for dry skin. You can also add honey.
Cucumber Benefits for Hair:
27. Cucumber strengthens hair. Cucumber juice contributes to hair growth primarily because its high levels of silicon, sulphur sodium, phosphorus and calcium. Drink cucumber juice daily to control hair loss.
28. Cucumber juice can also be used as a hair rinse for silky, shiny hair. It conditions and makes hair more manageable.
29. Cucumber can be used to remove stubborn stains and tarnish from stainless steel. Chemicals found in cucumber are also used in making shoe polishes to make them more their shiny.
30. Place slices of cucumbers in containers around the garden to control slugs and pests. Chemicals in cucumbers release a scent which wards critters off.
Cucumber Nutritional Value
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.11 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.5 g||1%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.259 mg||5%|
|Vitamin A||105 IU||3.5%|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg||4.5%|
|Vitamin E||0.03 mg||0%|
|Vitamin K||16.4 µg||13.6%|
Looking for some ways to eat cucumber? My favorite is gazpacho…
Quick Classic Gazpacho
Original recipe makes 6 servings
6 large organic tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 organic cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 organic small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced(optional)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, basil or cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Process 1/2 cup of tomatoes, along with the water and oil, in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be made several hours before serving.)
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