Cucumber: The King of Cool

Notable Personality Factors:

Despite being one of the top 5 most cultivated vegetables in the world, the cucumber doesn’t get a whole lot of attention—but don’t expect it to get upset about it.  Even though it hails from the tropics, the “cuke” is the quintessential king of cool.  Just like the old adage “cool as a cucumber” implies, cucumbers have a cooling, soothing effect on the mind and body.  Its juicy flesh calms overheated nerves, its mild flavor refreshes the palate, and its unique combination of minerals and phytonutrients work to balance your body chemistry.  It may not be the flashiest vegetable in the plant kingdom, but its nutritional and therapeutic values should not be overlooked.

Therapeutic and Healing Values:***

One of the first things you notice when you bite into a cucumber is its water content.  In addition to being refreshing, the watery pulp can be helpful in flushing unwanted toxins out of the system, regulating bodily fluids, and cleansing the blood.

Another important characteristic of the cucumber is its mineral composition.  Cucumbers are low in sodium, high in potassium, and high in magnesium—a powerful trio that promotes proper mineral balance in the body and has been linked to lower rates of stroke and other cardiovascular disease.  Interestingly enough, the magnesium content of the cucumber also helps settle the nerves and contributes to the cucumber’s overall soothing effect.

In addition, cucumbers are a good source of flavonoids, lignans, and many other phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics.  These health promoting compounds play an important role in protecting the body from toxins, stress, and free-radicals that can damage healthy cells and tissues and contribute to aging and disease.  Other antioxidants found in cucumbers include vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese.

Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamin K, an important nutrient for bone health, and are also a good source of silica, a mineral essential to the growth and protection of connective tissue, skin, nails, and hair.

Nutrient Value:

In addition to the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals listed above, cucumbers are a good source of energy-enhancing pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5).  Cucumbers also contain erepsin, an enzyme that improves protein digestion, along with other minerals and trace elements.

Selection and Care:

Cucumbers should be firm and consistently colored, with medium to dark green, unwaxed skin.  Shriveling and yellowness are signs that a cucumber is past its prime.

Optimal Use and Combining:

Due to its mild taste, raw cucumber complements most vegetables, including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and carrots.  In addition, raw cucumber with watercress and jicama makes a refreshing spring or summer salad.

***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.

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  1. Timothy — June 9, 2014 @ 9:22 am