Super Food: Cucumber

Cucumber is a crunchy vegetable that imparts a light, refreshing flavor making it a versatile ingredient that is a welcome addition to an array of dishes! There are two types of cucumber produced commercially including slicing cucumbers that are meant for eating fresh, and pickling cucumbers which are much smaller and used for making pickles. Interesting enough, seedless cucumbers do exist naturally without genetic engineering, as some varieties of cucumbers are able to produce fruit without pollination. As a result, seeds do not form within the flesh! A nutrition tip to consider when buying cucumbers is that the seeds of the cucumber are rich in nutrients that you may not find in the flesh or skin!.

The cucumber is a “creeping vine” that can grow in both temperate and tropical climates, making it a plant that flourishes in many regions of the world. China is the largest producer of cucumbers providing over 50% of the world’s supply of this crisp vegetable. Did you know that cucumbers are not technically vegetables? These oblong green, white, or yellow colored entities are actually the fruit of a flowering plant! In fact, if we were to look at their broader botanical family, cucumbers are related to melons including cantaloupe and watermelon; however, as a society we have grown accustomed to the cucumber classification as a cool crunchy vegetable. Locally, cucumbers (along with tomatoes) are the most popular crop grown by the Alberta Greenhouse Vegetable Growers!

Why is it Healthy?
Although cucumbers are greater than 90% water, do not underestimate their nutritional value! The benefits that come from its 10% flesh are impressive:

  • Cucumbers contain antioxidant nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese
  • One cup of fresh sliced cucumber is equal to about 20% of your daily vitamin K requirements!
  • Cucumbers provide a unique combination of phytonutrients including cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids
  • Signaling biochemical pathways needed in cancer cell development may be blocked by the special cucurbitacin phytonutrients

Including Cucumber in your Diet
When shopping for cucumbers look in the refrigerated section as cucumbers are highly sensitive to heat. Avoid any soggy and yellow looking skins. If the cucumber has wrinkled edges it is not the freshest choice! Cucumbers dry out quickly so they should be stored in the refrigerator in a tight sealed container.

Prior to consuming cucumber, make sure to run it under cool water while scrubbing the skin to remove contaminants. Mini cucumbers stay fresh for a longer period of time as they can be consumed as a fresh snack without any preparation. When buying large cucumber varieties, be sure to tightly wrap the cucumber in a sealed container to prevent it from drying out.

Recipe Ideas:
– Watermelon and Cucumber Salad (from this months newsletter)
– Cucumber and tomato salsa
– Cucumber boats
Greek Chicken Salad
– Gazpacho soup
– Chopped cucumber to add fresh crunch to tuna and chicken salad
– Creamy cucumber salad
– Pickled cucumber and daikon salad
– Tzatzikidip
– Cucumber and mint infused water

Did you know that…
Cucumbers have been used in spas as a part of facial skin care to reduce puffiness around the eyes. The cooling effect and anti-inflammatory components from the cucumber flesh placed over the eye reduces blood flow to the area, alleviating swelling!

June 1, 2014
Revive Wellness