Cucumbers get a bad rap. They’re often lumped into the loaded with water category of vegetables that people feel offer little to no nutritional value. Much like iceberg lettuce. And yes, iceberg may not be loaded with essential nutrients, but that water hydrates people, and many people often do not drink enough water, and we need water… and I think you can see where I’m going here. For the person you know who eats little to no vegetables and barely drinks water, iceberg isn’t such bad lettuce for them to eat. But back to cucumbers….
Cucumbers are indeed hydrating, but also loaded with vitamin C and caffeic acid. Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and known to firm the skin. Caffeic acid has been said to protect skin cells against UVB rays, the rays that cause wrinkles and age spots. So in fact, this low calorie little vegetable may actually be the key to the fountain of youth. Or at least the key to youthful, glowing skin.
Here are a few fun ways to use this summer staple:
- Rub cucumbers on sunburns or place slices on puffy eyes. The vitamin C will help to soothe the sunburn and reduce swelling in eyes.
- Add cucumber juice (pureed peeled cucumbers pressed through a fine mesh strainer) to lemonade, smoothies or cocktails.
- Add slices to water for a relaxing spa vibe.
- Use in salsas, yogurt dips, and chilled soups.
- Make a cucumber sorbet for a refreshing treat or palette cleanser.
- Use to freshen breath. Cucumbers are a natural breath freshener that leave the mouth feeling cool and clean. Place a thin slice on the roof of the mouth, and hold in place for a few minutes before chewing it.
- Make pickles. Add sliced cucumbers to a jar with salty water, dill and apple cider vinegar for a quick and easy pickle.
- Eat a few slices after a night out of drinking. The natural electrolytes in cucumbers have been known to help replenish essential nutrients the body lost, helping to avoid both a hangover and headache.
- Try a lemon cucumber. They’re called “lemon” not because of the taste, but because they are about the size of a lemon and yellow-colored when ripe. They have a mild, refreshing, delicious taste. And they’re just plain cute.
- Polish your shoes?! I haven’t personally tried this, but I have heard that you can use cucumbers to clean stainless steel and polish leather…. If you try it, let me know how it worked out for you.