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Summer makes us want to eat refreshing foods and cucumber is without a doubt one of the most refreshing foods we can nourish our body with. This juicy and crunchy vegetable is one of my absolute favorites because not only does it contain a lot of water but it is also rich in nutrients.
Although they are sold year-round, this is the ideal time to go to your local market and buy some cucumbers. They are super versatile and go great in gazpachos, sandwiches, salads, sauces, and even smoothies. In Spain (the main producer of cucumbers in the European Union) the best time to incorporate this veggie into your diet is between July and September because this is when they are at their peak allowing us to make the most of their nutritional properties.
Did you know that cucumbers belong to the cucurbits family, just like pumpkins, zucchini, and watermelon?
The benefits of cucumber in summer
- Hydration: cucumbers are 95% water, making them a great and tasty way to stay hydrated.
- Helps intestinal health: its high water content helps to eliminate toxins, and being rich in fiber it promotes good digestion. It also has a substance called erepsin that helps protect the intestinal mucosa.
- Protects against free radicals: its high vitamin C content makes it a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals, increases collagen production, and strengthens the immune system.
- Protects the skin: eye health, and can also help prevent diseases such as cancer. All of this is thanks to beta-carotene, which the body transforms into vitamin A, an indispensable nutrient for our body.
- Combates fatigue and stress: contains many B vitamins, perfect for relaxing the nervous system and relieving the impact of anxiety and stress.
- Reduces cholesterol: cucumbers contain plant sterols and pectin which is good for heart health. Additionally, its potassium content helps regulate blood pressure.
Cucumbers get a bad rap for being indigestible, but if you chew them well and eat slowly, your body won’t find them as difficult to digest
- Kirby: the most common and easy to find in supermarkets. Usually between 10 and 15 centimeters and is characterized by its bumps. It is ideal for salads or simply with a little olive oil and salt. The smaller ones are used to make pickles and are called gherkins.
- Garden: is slightly larger and aesthetically very similar to the Kirby ones, although with fewer bumps. It is darker and its flavor is milder. Ideal for preparing a typical Andalusian gazpacho recipe
- English: usually 25 centimeters in size and besides having a softer taste compared to the other ones, it is also much more digestive.
- Kyuri: also known as a Japanese cucumber, it is small, very dark, and is characterized by a sweet taste and a much crunchier texture.
- Armenian: are long, thin, and slightly variegated in darker and lighter shades. They also give you a delicious crunch.
This is where almost all the beta-carotene in the cucumber is found, so I recommend that you eat them with the skin on. Which is why it is key that we buy organic cucumbers to avoid pesticides, which remain on the skin of the cucumber.
10 ways to enjoy cucumber
- Classic: If you have ever been in Spain you know that summer isn’t summer without some gazpacho, here is my twist on this Spanish classic, red beet gazpacho.
- Other refreshing cold soups: If you haven’t made the Okroshka Soup I posted the other day, I urge you to do so. It is definitely the surprise of the summer!
- Fermented: the properties in cucumber are reinforced by fermenting them as it generates probiotics, bacteria that we already know are so beneficial to the health of our intestinal microbiota.
- In water: flavored waters are a great idea, especially when we get bored and are finding it hard to bring ourselves to drink more water. I suggest always having a jar of flavored water on hand during these hot summer months. A jar of refreshing Cucumber, Citrus Water
- In a dip or sauce: cucumber goes very well with dairy products. I suggest trying a Turkish dip called Tzatziki which is made of yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, mint, garlic, and olive oil.
- In smoothies: The detox trend has left us with an infinite number of recipes for cleansing smoothies using cucumber. One that I really like cucumber combined with, beets, apples, carrots, chard, and a little grated fresh ginger.
- In a sandwich: in Great Britain cucumbers are an essential ingredient to making a delicious sandwich. I suggest placing a few slices of cucumber on a good gluten-free bread with a delicious piece of chicken breast and your favorite cheese.
- In salads: Another summer basic that is a regular go-to for me. Mix some salad with cucumber and a good portion of fish and you will have the perfect combo.
- Pickles as an appetizer: pickles marinated in vinegar are a good snack. I eat them both after training and as a snack before lunch.
- The dish of the season: I love the combination of cucumber and peanuts and the best recipe with this combo has to be this Tuna Poke.