Cucumbers are cool in so many ways

Calling a cucumber cool is surely understating its essence.

The list of nutritional benefits from this elongated gourd reads like a what’s-what of healthfulness.

Native to India, the cucumber became – and remains – a vital fruit in Asia, where China grows 60 percent of the world output. Yep, it’s a fruit, not a veggie.

The earliest recorded use of cucumber dates back nearly 5,000 years, to the city of Ur. It has been farmed since 3,000 BC and became a vital foodstuff throughout the Roman Empire. The cucumber is also biblically mentioned as a food eaten by the Israelites while in Egypt.

While long famed as a pickled product, fresh cucumbers have reached a new pinnacle of popularity. Helped along by a year-round availability and moderate shelf life, cucumbers have become an integral part of salads and assorted side dishes.

Despite their familiarity in the kitchen and garden, cukes are more often than not stored wrong. They’re not big fans of coldness, meaning they’re not long for excellence when stored in the fridge – even in the crisper drawer. A University of California, Davis study determined that cucumbers tend to ‘go south’ when exposed to temperatures below 50°F.

Cold exposure also leads to the fruit’s fairly famed “chilling injuries,” marked by mushy water-soaked areas, easily penetrated by a thumb when even lightly squeezed.

Nutritionally, cucumbers are a powerhouse. As noted in top10, they are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and numerous B vitamins. They are also a good source of sodium, copper, amino acids, carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, potassium, manganese, fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, biotin and silica.

Being nearly 96 percent water, cucumbers are also valuable for their hydrating ability. Easily blended and juiced, cukes can be eaten raw as a hydrating pick-me-up. The juice of cucumbers is considered a premier blood cleaning and detox agent.

It has also been suggested that regularly consuming cucumbers, either raw or juiced, can reduce bad cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, aid in digestion, relieve muscle soreness, and even help fight cancer.

Cucumbers are frequently used as a beauty and health treatment for skin. Slices are customarily applied to eyes to remove “bags” and puffiness. When consumed, they also promote healthier nails and hair. The juice is even thought to enhance natural hair growth.

A salon-quality cucumber toner can be easily made by grating a medium cuke onto cheesecloth, over a glass bowl, squeezing out the liquid and, using a cotton ball, applying it to the face in an upward motion. That same method produces a cool relief for sunburned skin – another quite literally ‘cool” application of this many-splendored fruit.

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