Food of the Month: Classic Cucumber
Care of Amy Symington of ameliaeats.com
The notorious cool and crunchy cucumber is part of the squash and melon family known as the Cucurbitaceae family. In general, there are two major types of cucumbers; those grown for pickling purposes and those that are mostly consumed fresh.
However, cucumbers can also come in varying shapes, sizes and colours, although some are just not as common. They contain high levels of vitamin K, vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese, and have a high fibre and water content.
Cucumbers contain many phytonutrients that provide an assortment of health benefits. Firstly, they are rich in polyphenols called lignins that have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer like breast, ovarian and prostate. They also contain flavonoids which are infamous for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have also been shown to keep heart disease and cancer at bay, but additionally can benefit our nervous system by protecting our nerve cells from oxidative damage.
For maximum phytonutrient content, it is best to consume cucumbers fresh rather than cooked in addition to storing them in a cool place (such as your fridge) as they tend to lose their potency when cooked or exposed to heat.
Add them to salads and that refreshing summer cocktail, pair them with falafel or crabless cakes, or use them in fresh spring rolls, chilled soups or on a big fat cucumber sandwich with piles of radish, dill and veggie cream cheese. The term cool as a cucumber has never been more accurate.