One of the first crops to be cultivated in the world, the wonderful cucumber has several benefits that could help you beat the heat. The Mumbai Mix Team tells you why this wonderful fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) should be added to your summer diet
With the scorching summer heat still beating down on you, wouldn’t it be nice to find someone selling fresh cucumber by the side of the road? We can almost hear you heaving a sigh of relief as you bite into the cool fruit, sprinkled with salt! Besides being a delightful pickle and a good addition to your healthy summer salad, there are several reasons why this good-natured fruit should be part of your summer diet. Although we’re sure you need no convincing, we spoke to nutritionists across the city to bring you more information about its benefits as well as some unusual uses of the cucumber. Read on to find out why this cousin of the famous summer squash is so good for you.
Cucumber for the summer
The cucumber, like the squash, pumpkin and watermelon, is almost 95% water. And, because of its high water content, it’s a great summer fruit. We spoke to nutritionist Dr. Prachi Sanghvi, to find out why the cucumber should become a part of your daily diet.
- It keeps you hydrated The flesh of the cucumber is composed mostly of water so it’s no surprise that cucumbers keep you hydrated.
- It flushes out toxins Cucumber is also a popular ingredient in detox drinks. They are very low in calories, making them a great addition to your diet since they help fill you up as well as satisfy your hunger pangs without ruining your diet.
- It reverses your sun tan Whether you consume it as is or use it in a mix, cucumber revitalises your skin and helps open your pores. There is more than one use for cucumber as a beauty product, so, it’s no surprise that it is one of the main ingredients used in spa therapies.
- It helps you fight sunburn Cucumber may be almost all water, but it also contains vitamin C and caffic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritation and reduce swelling. This is also why cucumbers are used to treat sunburn. Blending chilled cucumbers into a paste and applying it on the affected areas of your skin can soothe a sunburn and help with inflammation. Cucumber also goes very well with aloe vera gel — together they can fight the dreaded summer heat in no time.
Health benefits of cucumber
- It keeps stress at bay Kanchan Patwardhan, a clinical nutritionist consultant from Kanchan’s House of Health and Nutrition as well as Arogya Hospital, Thane, tells us, “The cucumber is a whirlpool of water, which gladly compensates your hydra-needs while helping your body to eliminate toxins. The multiple B vitamins — B1, B5 and biotin — soothe anxiety and ease feelings of apprehension. So, when you’re feeling stressed out, relax with a refreshing cucumber cooler.”
- All round goodness “Even diabetics can enjoy cucumber as a snack (with a dip) without any guilt or as part of a salad before main meals. It goes well with other ingredients (tomato, spinach and amla) as a refreshing juice, especially since cucumber coolers help beat the summer heat both internally as well as externally,” says Khushboo Sahijwani, a nutritionist from the Shenmen Healing Center in Mumbai.
- Just another healthy fruit Hate the fatty deposits on your thighs? Eat a cucumber! “Cucumber helps remove the pesky dimples and cellulite on your thighs that are usually hard to get rid of. It contains phytochemicals, which cause the collagen in your skin to tighten up and ultimately help reduce the presence of cellulite,” says Dr. Jaishree Manchanda, a cosmetologist and the founder of the Youthful Secrets clinic.
- Minerals in abundance “Ascorbic acid in cucumber helps to reduce dark circles. Its peel is also a good source of potassium, which is a major electrolyte in the body. Also, since it has a soothing effect, it helps increase the anti-inflammatory response in your body,” Indrayani Pawar, team leader dietician at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical in Khar, tells us.
- Healthy inside, happy outside Snigdha Sinha, a healthcare professional, tells us, “Cucumber is an excellent source of silica, which helps to promote healthy joints. The high water content helps maintain kidney health, reducing uric acid levels in your kidneys. Its diuretic properties help flush out toxins.”
- Serious benefits It may feel light, but there are some serious benefits! Dr. Avinash Malgaonkar, an oncology surgeon from SRV Hospital, tells us, “Some dietary ingredients have certain cytoprotective chemicals. For example, cucumber is rich in three lignans, pinoresinol, lariciresinol and secoisolariciresinol, all of which are known to reduce cancer.”
- Sports and more Gayatri Thakur, Visiting Nutrition Consultant and Sachin Rahate, Head of Strength & Conditioning, from H.E.A.L Institute, say that cucumber along with regular workouts on a daily basis reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. “The high fibre content in cucumber helps in reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure levels. Also, cucumber juice has an alkaline effect on an athlete’s body and helps to neutralize the acidity level and thereby delay the fatigue level of the body,” they tell us.
USING CUCUMBER IN YOUR FOOD
If you want to stay cool and hydrated by including this fruit in your meals, here’s what you can make with it.
- Cucumber appetisers These are delicious bite-sized, snacks for any time of the day and are also low in calories, so you don’t have to worry too much about watching your weight.
- Greek salad Making a Greek salad is easy and quick. All you have to do is dice up some cucumber and add in other tasty and healthy ingredients such as onions, tomatoes and even cheese or paneer. Then season it, and enjoy!
- Cucumber cocktail Now here’s one that has us on the fence. On the one hand, alcohol is dehydrating. On the other, it’s just so tempting! Settle for a cucumber gin and tonic on a hot evening in order to cool off in style.
- Cucumber dip Looking for more ways to incorporate this wonderful ingredient in your meals? Try making a dipping sauce out of this summer fruit. Cucumber adds a subtle flavour and lightness to your dip.
- Chilled cucumber soup Cucumbers make a low-calorie base for a soup, which is what makes them a great summer ingredient. Have the soup chilled for a greater cooling effect during the summer.
- Cucumber sandwiches Cucumbers hold water, but don’t make things soggy. They are the magic ingredient that gives crunch and moisture to the sandwich.
CUE THE CUCUMBERS
Read on to find out how you can incorporate cucumbers into your beauty regime.
- Makes your skin glow The high water content and cooling properties of cucumber make it a natural toner and astringent. It helps to get rid of oiliness and leaves you with a healthy glow. Splash some cucumber juice or apply the puree over your face and neck, let it dry for 30 minutes and then wash it off with cold water. This will also clean out your pores.
- Reduces cellulite Mix 1 tbsp raw honey with ½ cup ground coffee and a little cucumber juice till it forms a thick paste and apply it to your thighs. Wrap your thighs with a muslin sheet and after 30 minutes, exfoliate them gently. The mixture will help reduce cellulite and tone your thighs.
- Reduces hair fall Cucumber contains silicone, sulfur, sodium, phosphorus and calcium, all of which help your hair to grow in a healthy manner. Apply the juice to your hair and scalp once a week, leave it on for an hour and wash it off with a shampoo. This will leave your hair looking silky and shiny.
A summer cocktail is a sure shot way to beat the heat, but how healthy is it? We bring you a few refreshing cocktails infused with cucumber that you could try out at home
Cucumber Melon Gimlet from Holiday Inn
Ingredients 30ml gin, 4-6 cucumber slices, ¼ lime (sliced), 120ml tonic water, 6 mint leaves, melon syrup, a twirl of lime zest as garnish.
Method Add mint, lime, gin and melon syrup to the shaker and muddle. Add cucumber slices and shake vigorously. Pour the mixture into a glass filled with ice and top it off up with tonic water. Stir, let it settle for a few minutes to enhance the flavours and enjoy.
Basil Cucumber Martini from Old Wild West
Ingredients 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon hot water, 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger, one 3-inch piece of cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced) plus 1 round for garnish, 2 torn basil leaves, 30 ml gin, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.
Method In a cocktail shaker, mix gin, crushed diced cucumber basil and sugar syrup until the cucumber is completely dissolved. Fill the shaker up to 2/3rd with ice and gin. Shake until well chilled for about 15 seconds. Using a strainer, pour into a serving glass. Garnish with a piece of fresh cucumber.
Pepinojito by Shubhamoy Banerjee, food and beverage manager at The Orchid
Ingredients 3-4 thin slices of cucumber, 45ml white rum, 15ml Jagermeister spice cinnamon, 15ml honey, 15ml lime juice, cucumber roll as a garnish.
Method Cut the cucumber into cubes and muddle them. Add the sour mix and muddle again. Put the cubes of ice into a long tumbler glass and pour in the honey. Pour the muddled mixture into the glass and stir. Top up the drink with rum and Jagermeister spice cinnamon. Garnish with rolled cucumber over the stirrer stick and serve.
Cucumber Mojito at Geoffrey’s, Hotel Marine Plaza
Ingredients Mint leaves, 90ml cucumber juice, 30ml sugar syrup, 45ml light rum, ½ litre lemon-lime soda, lime wedges, crushed ice.
Method Add mint leaves to muddled lime wedges. Add ice, cucumber juice, sugar syrup and rum. Top with soda. Garnish with mint and lime wedges.
Cucumber Lakehouse at Amadeus
Ingredients 30ml vodka, 30ml gin, ¾ cucumber chunks, 2 curry leaves muddled together, 5ml sweet and sour syrup, and 3-4 drops of blue curacao liquor.
Method Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add the cucumber chunks along with muddled curry leaves. Add vodka and gin. Top it up with soda/sprite. Add drops of blue curacao liquor and shake well.
CUCUMBER-BASED PRODUCTS WE LOVE
Rise & shine
Enriched with vitamin E and skin whitening cucumber extracts, this BioCare cucumber face scrub is just what you need to battle all of your dry skin problems! And if that’s not good enough, it also quick fixes blemishes!
Price Rs 157
Available on www.snapdeal.com
A splash of energy
Kickstart your day with the rejuvenating yet aromatic cucumber floral water from Deve Herbes. It has a crisp, clear scent and can be mixed with aloe vera gel as a face toner! Now, doesn’t that sound like good a deal?
Price Rs 299
Available on www.deveherbs.com
Is the heat getting you down? Get your lively skin back with this cucumber face pack from Lustre. It brightens your complexion and gives your skin a glow and a smooth finish! This firming, hydrating yet nourishing face pack is all the pampering you need this week!
Price Rs 299
Available on www.flipkart.com
Silky smooth skin
We know all about the struggle of keeping dry skin hydrated in this weather. However, you can perk your skin up with this Aviance Hydra Balance Moisture Infused Advanced Serum. It’s enriched with natural oil extracts, not only of cucumber, but also of jojoba, almond, wheat germ and aloe vera. This perfect prelude is all that you need for a refreshing cleanse after an exhausting day!
Price Rs 1,099
Available on www.jabong.com
This Yes To Cucumbers color care conditioner is not only anti-oxidant rich, it is also infused with green tea extracts to make your hair shine!
Price Rs 5,832
Available on www.amazon.in