By Michelle Rauch
The consensus seems to be it’s so hard to lose weight in the summer. I beg to differ. I can’t get enough of all of the in-season fruits and vegetables especially the ones I grow myself. In the process I am making a conscious effort to really educate myself about all the food choices I make. While we’ve all known since we were children that fruits and vegetables are “good” for us, I am digging deeper to learn more.
My garden has been overflowing with cucumbers this summer. I can’t say I’ve had success with the rest (minus the mint, of course). Since I have been feasting on homegrown cucumbers daily I decided to see what the health benefits are. Naturally, I have a general knowledge that cucumbers are good for me. But if you were to ask me exactly why I would simply say say “because it’s a vegetable.” Oh how naive I’ve been when it comes to the simple cucumber.
Here’s the short list of the numerous benefits of cucumbers.
Quick pick me upper. That’s right, if you need a quick boost to get you through the afternoon, push aside that sugary, caffeinated energy drink and grab a cuke. They are a good source of B vitamins which can ease stress, anxiety and boost your memory. Since cucumbers are ninety-five percent water they will keep you hydrated and eliminate toxins. That’s bound to make you feel well.
Breath Freshener. I love a great salad for lunch loaded with fresh red onion, but oooh wee, don’t get too close after lunch. No worries, grab a slice of cucumber. If you press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue, it is said to kill the bacteria that causes bad breath. Who knew?!
Weight loss and digestive aide. It’s all about that high water and low calorie content that makes this a winner for weight loss. It’s also a source of fiber.
Diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure benefits. Researchers have found the sterols in cucumbers may reduce cholesterol levels. Additionally, the potassium, magnesium and fiber are effective to help regulate blood pressure. Juicing a cucumber may help cells produce insulin.
Cancer Fighter. Juicing is a great way to get the most out of the vitamins and minerals packed in this superfood. Studies have found a reduced risk of several cancers among people who have a high consumption of cucumbers.
Hangover help. If you overindulged, munch on a few cucumber slices before you head to bed. Once again, those beneficial B vitamins will go to work with the other goodness. Your body will hopefully get enough essential nutrients replenished to minimize the headache and hangover the next morning.
The recent voluntary recall of peaches, nectarines, and plums is a reminder just how valuable homegrown fruits and vegetables are. Even the healthiest of the healthy food found in the produce section in grocery stores can’t guarantee a 100% healthy seal of approval. The use of pesticides and the handling and transport of fresh fruit and vegetables leave us never knowing for sure what our food has come into contact with. When you are planting, growing, and picking in your own yard you know the entire history of what you are putting in your body. That will help you maximize the benefits to do your body good.