06/06/2016 Nutrition & Recipes
This summer, cucumbers could be your best friend. Here are six ways they can benefit you—from soothing your sunburn as a topical paste to cooling you down in a refreshing drink.
Summer offers limitless opportunities to move and frolic in the sunshine. As joyous as all those backyard BBQs, trips to the beach, and swimming in the lake may be, sometimes all that fun in the sun can overheat your body.
Fortunately, there’s a great way to cool off, both from the inside out and the outside in, using something you probably have in your refrigerator this very moment—the mighty cucumber. From salads and smoothies to a refreshing face mask and sunburn soother, you can use this versatile and nutritious veggie-like fruit in a variety of ways to keep your body feeling as cool as a cucumber.
Cucumbers to Cool and Nourish Your Body
Though cucumbers are made up of 95 percent water, they pack quite a nutritional punch. Cucumbers are high in vitamin K, which helps us absorb calcium and keeps our bones strong, and Vitamin C, which boosts our immunity and gives us energy to thrive in our daily lives. They’re also full of minerals like potassium, which aids in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Additionally, cucumbers contain lignans, which may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
And remember that high water content? Consuming cucumbers on warmer days or any time you’re feeling overheated can help fend off dehydration.
But one of the greatest things about cucumbers is that, because of their mild taste, they’re incredibly easy to eat. They don’t need to be cooked or prepared in any particular way. They’re crisp, refreshing, and delicious just as they are. Your four-legged friends love them, too. They’re a low-calorie, all-natural treat that can help your dogs stay cool and hydrated.
Try These Refreshing Recipes
1. Cucumber Water
Despite having such a mild taste, cucumbers add a pleasant burst of flavor to water without adding many calories. If you love the taste of your beverage, you’re more likely to consume more of it. Drinking plenty of water not only helps us stay well-hydrated on those warm summer days, but it also flushes toxins from our bodies.
The recipe for cucumber water is very simple—toss 2 to 3 slices of cucumber into your glass of water or water bottle and drink up! Feel free to get creative and mix up this recipe with fresh citrus fruit slices, berries, mint, or other herbs. Having a summer gathering? Cucumber water with fresh lemon is a wonderful, low-sugar alternative to the ubiquitous lemonade.
2. Asian Cucumber Salad
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cucumbers and red bell pepper. Chill before serving.
3. Cucumber-mint Smoothie
- 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint
- 3 teaspoons honey
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup ice
Toss all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
4. Spicy Mango and Cucumber Frozen Pops
- 2 cucumbers, cut into chunks
- 1 mango, cut into chunks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Toss all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into frozen pop molds and freeze overnight. Enjoy! These popsicles are a true crowd-pleaser, so be prepared to make more.
Cucumber Recipes to Soothe Your Skin
Our skin loves the calming, cooling effects of cucumber. That’s why you may have noticed that cucumber-based treatments are extremely popular in spas. Cucumber is great for your skin because it contains potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s both cooling and hydrating. A simple cucumber face mask can brighten your skin, giving your skin the appearance of being gently kissed by the sun. And if you’ve got a sunburn, cucumber can help soothe and cool your irritated skin.
1. Cucumber and Honey Face Mask
- 1/2 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon honey
Blend the cucumber and honey until smooth. Apply mask to clean, dry skin of your face and neck. Allow the mask to remain on the skin for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
2. Cucumber Sunburn Soother
- 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup aloe vera
Blend the cucumber and aloe vera until it forms a paste. Chill in the refrigerator until cool.
Apply to sunburned areas of the skin. Allow paste to remain on the skin for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and gently pat dry.
Cucumbers are delightful all year long, so eat them to your heart’s content. As you get ready to step outside into the warmer months of summer and live it up in the sunshine, don’t forget to keep a cucumber on hand.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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