The Incredible, Crunchable Cucumber
I loved hearing from all of you on my sesame seed article. It’s great to see how many of you in our active worldwide community are following Step 3 of the Save Our Bones Program and looking for additional ways to use the Foundation Foods.
Also, I heard your message loud and clear – you want more articles about specific foods. So here’s another in what will be a series on bone-supporting Foundation Foods. I give you… the cucumber.
Paul Bragg, a pioneer in healthy eating back in the 1920’s, said:
“There is nothing more nourishing for the skin to have than the liquid juice from the cucumber. The nutrition-rich water that it contains, when taken into the body, adds lustre to the hair, sparkle to the eye, color to the lips, tone to the skin, and spring to the step.”
As poetic as that sounds, there’s solid science behind it. These cool, crunchy treats are alkalizing, and their skin is loaded with…
Silica for Healthy Bones
As we age, our bones tend to become less dense. And our hair drier and nails more brittle. Does this have to happen? No. Feed your body what it needs, and you can keep your strong bones and the glow of youth long into your “senior” years. One of the things your body needs is silicon, often referred to as silica.
The loss of bone density, as well as the dry hair and brittle nails, happens in part because our bodies lose silica as we age. To replenish your store of silica, look no further than the humble cucumber, which has extremely high levels of silica.
Silica aids in bone health in two major ways:
It’s instrumental in collagen formation. Collagen is a fibrous protein that is responsible for holding us together. Without this connective tissue, we would essentially fall apart in a gooey mess.
It facilitates the assimilation of calcium. Without adequate silica, our bodies can’t make use of bone-building calcium, and it can be leeched from the bones.
If you’ve heard about silica/silicon, you may be wondering what the difference is. Here’s the scoop. Silicon is one of the most common elements found in the Earth’s crust, but it’s never seen in its raw state. Silicon combines with oxygen to form a silicate ion (SiO4). Silica-rich rocks include obsidian, granite, and sandstone. In the human body, silica is a vital component of collagen and is found in all our connective tissues. For the purposes of this article, I’ll use silica, but don’t be confused the next time you see one or the other.
Cucumbers also contain magnesium, which works in synergy with calcium to keep bones healthy. I go over magnesium and how it assists in bone health in more depth in the Save Our Bones Program.
Cucumber Tidbits, Trivia & Cautions
Did you know that cucumbers are really fruits, and that they’re close relatives of that other cool summer treat, watermelons?
Most of cucumbers’ nutrients, including most of the silica, are in the skin, so to get the most out of your cucumbers, don’t peel them. If you can get organic, unwaxed cucumbers, you can safely eat the skin. Otherwise, make sure you use a vegetable wash to get rid of the wax and other toxins.
Even though cucumbers don’t have a ton of fiber (about 1 gram in an average cucumber), the fiber they do contain can hold up to 30 times its weight in water. Wheat bran, usually considered a star in the fiber universe, holds only four to six times its weight in water.
Many popular cucumber recipes involve pickling, or the use of vinegar. The acidifying effects of vinegar neutralize the cucumbers’ health benefits. If you want to enjoy a vinegary cucumber dish, substitute apple cider vinegar, which is alkalizing and will actually boost the nutritional value of your dish.
Other Benefits of Cucumbers
Cucumbers’ flesh is almost 96% water, which makes them extremely hydrating. Perfect during a detox regimen and for maintaining that healthy, youthful glow. In addition to water, cucumber flesh contains ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which can be helpful in counteracting water retention.
You’ve probably heard of putting cucumber slices over your eyes to reduce swelling – well, it actually works!
The caffeic and ascorbic acids in cucumbers make them effective for soothing tired eyes, taming the ouch of sunburn and other burns, and providing soothing relief for many types of dermatitis. Next time you burn yourself, reach for a cucumber.
Note: Even though coffee contains caffeic acid, caffeic acid has no relation to caffeine.
Selecting and Storing Cucumbers
True to their “cool as a cucumber” reputation, cucumbers don’t like heat, so make sure to keep them in your refrigerator – they’ll stay fresh for several days.
Once you’ve sliced into a cucumber, be sure to put it into a sealed container or wrap it tightly in plastic.
Don’t let your cucumbers sit at room temperature for too long, or they’ll lose their crispness.
Puffiness is a sign that they’re getting long in the tooth. Cucumbers should be firm, and a bright medium to dark green.
How to Enjoy Cucumbers
Cucumbers are one of my favorite veggies, so I try to incorporate them into my meals every chance I get. Here are a few examples and I’d love to hear some of your ideas:
I add a few slices of raw cucumber to veggie burgers instead of pickles.
One of my go-to quick meals is a healthy cucumber sandwich. I use hearty, alkaline sprouted whole-grain bread and spread on some of my homemade tahini. Then I layer on sliced, unpeeled cukes, tomatoes and onions and top it off with fresh alfalfa sprouts – is your mouth watering yet? If you don’t have access to sprouted grain bread, any whole grain bread will do.
I sometimes juice cucumbers along with other bone healthy Foundation Foods for a refreshing taste and an additional nutritional boost.
And now, I’d like to share a very special cucumber salad with you. I know you’ll love it as much as I do:
California Cucumber Salad
2 red apples, unpeeled and cut into cubes
1 cucumber, unpeeled and cut into small pieces
5 dates, pitted and diced
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped almonds
1. In a medium-sized bowl combine the apples, cucumber, and dates. Pour the lemon juice and mix well.
2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey, basil, parsley, and cilantro.
3. Pour the dressing on the apple-cucumber mixture and sprinkle with almonds.