Cucumbers for Health and Hydration

Spring is here…which means that summer isn’t far behind. Here in the northern hemisphere, summer is cucumber season…and cucumbers are one of my favorite foods. They’re also one of Nature’s best gifts for skincare! In fact, few foods are as cool as a cucumber.

You probably know that cucumbers are great in salad. Perhaps you even add them to your drinking water for a clean, refreshing taste (far preferable to sports drinks). But did you know that cucumbers are actually a fruit—a member of the melon family? And that cucumbers provide so many health benefits that I wrote an article about them, which was published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice? Here are some of the other amazing benefits of cucumbers.

  1. Cucumbers are 95% water, so they’re a great way to stay hydrated.
  1. Cucumbers are packed with lignans, which are phytonutrients containing both soluble and insoluble fiber—so they fill you up without adding calories. Lignans are also antioxidants and they provide hormone-balancing feats for both men and women. In women, lignans help balance estrogen levels; in men, they help balance the testosterone-DHT. In both genders, lignans inhibit HSD enzyme, which helps reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  1. Lignans and another cucumber compound, cucurbitacins, are associated with cancer-fighting benefits.
  1. Cucumbers contain vitamins B, C, and K, plus flavonoids, antioxidants such as beta carotene, and other trace elements and minerals.
  1. Cucumbers are great for your skin. They contain rutin and ascorbic acid oxidase, which function as free radical scavengers, helping to protect the skin against damage. This is important because chronic inflammation initiates collagen and elastin breakdown—a major contributor to chronological aging. Furthermore, research has indicated that cucumbers have photo-protective activities and provide an SPF value of 0.2 all by themselves. More recent investigations also concluded that topical creams with cucumber extract showed pronounced decrease in melanin and skin sebum, resulting in skin whitening and anti-acne effects.
  1. Cucumbers relieve puffiness around the eyes, which is why they are often applied in spas.
  1. Cucumber protects against the damaging effects of certain toxins, moderating oxidative stress levels. Addressing water loss and inflammation with cucumber consumption could be an effective way to lower stress and fight against the aging process.
  1. Cucumber is one of the most alkaline foods, counteracting acidic pH within the body and specifically in the kidneys, which are tasked with keeping blood pH within normal levels. Over time, blood pH naturally becomes more acidic as kidney function declines with age. When the body is forced to constantly regulate blood pH, this overdrive may cause muscle wasting, bone weakening, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and memory and cognition morbidity, as well as mortality from chronic diseases. Because of the antioxidants and minerals it contains, cucumber combats all of these conditions. A three-year study showed that an alkaline diet can indeed reduce the speed of muscle wasting that naturally occurs with aging. Research also suggests that an alkaline diet can assist with chemotherapy treatments, making the treatments more effective.
  1. Cucumber is a go-to remedy in folk medicine. Its uses include treatment of diarrhea, gonorrhea, diabetes, hypertension, and as a detoxifying anti-inflammatory, lipids regulator, antioxidant, and analgesic. While some of these uses remain unproven, there is accumulating research confirming many of them.

Need more reasons to consume cucumbers? Here are two simple recipes for do-it-yourself cucumber treats.

Relax with a hydrating cucumber mask

Combine a mixture of cucumber juice, honey, and yogurt to create a hydrating and delicious-smelling mask. Add some rolled oats to the mix for additional calming and exfoliating properties. Apply to clean skin, lie down, and enjoy.

Hydrate with a cooling cucumber salad

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 4 t. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t. dill
  • 1/2 t. sea salt, optional
  • 4 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, vinegar, dill and salt; mix well. Add cucumbers and onions; toss. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!


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