On sweltering August days, no one wants to spend time at the stove, and sometimes the grill is even too much to bear. Some days your best kitchen tool is a blender and your most refreshing ingredient is a cooling cucumber.
Although it will never be mistaken for a superfood, the common cucumber has been around for a long time and is probably here to stay. Originating in India over 3,000 years ago, it's believed that cucumbers were brought to America by Christopher Columbus.
They don't get much respect as vegetables go and most people write them off as harmless water logs used to satisfy a dieter's need for crunching. But besides their refreshing crunch, cucumbers make a respectable contribution to your nutritional needs.
A one-half cup serving of cucumber slices supplies 2% of your daily magnesium and potassium requirements and 11% of your daily vitamin K needs. All for only 8 calories.
What exactly is vitamin K and why do you need it?
Vitamin K comes in two forms. Vitamin K1 is an anti-oxidant, and is important in allowing blood to clot normally. It also may be helpful in relieving bruising, heavy menstrual flow, and nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It is abundant in leafy green vegetables.
In our intestines, bacteria convert vitamin K1 to K2 which has additional health benefits, including building bones and preventing osteoporosis. Supplementing with vitamins K1 and K2 has been shown to reduce fracture rates in post-menopausal women.
There are other vegetables that are richer sources of vitamin K such as parsley, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, asparagus and more, but cucumbers are abundant from May to August so why not take advantage now?
Cucumbers may also have anti-diabetic properties
Recently, it's been found that cucumber peels can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Researchers in India fed diabetic rats extract of cucumber peels and concluded that the polyphenols and flavonoids nearly reversed the effects of diabetes-inducing alloxan.
But beware when choosing your cucumbers because unfortunately, growers rely heavily on pesticides. In fact, the USDA Pesticide Data Program found that cucumbers contain 35 known pesticide residues, so always hold out for the organic versions.
Here is a quick and easy cold summer soup combining cucumber and avocado. the two.
Cool Cucumber and Avocado Soup
- 1 organic cucumber, peeled
- 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
- 3 green onions
- Zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 cup coconut water
- Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste
Roughly chop the cucumber, avocado and green onions and toss in the blender. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.