Ah the humble cucumber–it sits patiently in the crisper drawer while its flashier cousins are being scooped up and devoured for dinner. The cucumber just waits and waits in all of it’s watery, melon-tinged mild manner. Maybe someone will make some pickles, maybe Mom will slice off a few rounds for her tired eyes…but really, aside from pickles and eye treatments, what is a cucumber’s claim to fame?
Maybe it’s the spike in temperature here in the now-steamy Northeast, but I have been going gaga for cucumbers lately–I never knew how fond I could be of the fresh-tasting and cool, albeit sometimes lackluster, fruit. It’s been taking center stage in chopped salads, finding its way into dips, and providing the base of a number of chilled soups. But why stop there? The cucumber is really a pretty amazing piece of work, both in the kitchen and in the bathroom where it can perform a multitude of beauty tasks.
The flesh of the cucumber is mostly water, but also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling–these acids prevent water retention, which may explain why cucumbers applied topically are often helpful for swollen eyes, burns and dermatitis. Cucumbers are a great treat for the skin. They have the same pH as the skin so they help restore the protective acid mantle–they also possess hydrating, nourishing and astringent properties.
The skin of a cucumber is rich in fiber and contains a variety of beneficial minerals including silica, potassium and magnesium. The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin.