Build healthy bones with cooling cucumber

Feeling the heat? Cucumbers can actually help your body stay cool, and they're also great for heart health. Try our recipe for no-cook cucumber and salmon rolls.
By Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.
Build healthy bones with cooling cucumber Masterfile

It turns out there really is something to the saying “cool as a cucumber.” Cucumbers literally stay cooler than the ambient temperature around them, making them a perfect snack during a heat wave.

Cucumbers were once thought to be devoid of nutrients. As it turns out, their most nutritious part is the dark green skin, so consider buying them organic to avoid the wax and pesticides that are often sprayed on conventional cukes.

Five reasons to cool down with cucumbers
1. They support proper bone development: Cucumbers are high in vitamin C, which plays a pivotal role in the creation of collagen, a key component in the development of the bone matrix as well as the development of healthy hair skin and nails. Recent research suggests that scurvy is still a health concern; an inadequate intake of vitamin C can cause modern day symptoms of this olden-days condition.

2. Cucumber is great for your heart: The skin of the cucumber contains caffeic acid; this is an antioxidant that is shown to prevent further damage to the cells of the heart following a heart attack. The most amount of damage that is caused by a heart attack is a result of the free radicals that are created, and caffeic acid helps to mop these up.

3. Prevent osteoporosis with cucumbers: As well as good amounts of vitamin C, cucumbers also contain a considerable amount of silica (orthosilicic acid) in their skin. Silica has been proven to work synergistically with calcium and vitamin D to increase collagen production in the bones and avoid deterioration and brittle bones, which can lead to fractures.

4. Keep your brain sharp with cukes: Cucumber contains a trace mineral called molybdenum, a vital component of many enzyme functions in the entire body, not just in our digestive tract. These reactions are needed for proper brain function, motor control and memory retention. Molybdenum is especially important in the enzyme functions of the brain.

5. It's the ultimate weight-loss food: Along with being high in fiber and water, cucumbers are one of the only vegetables containing the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan has the ability to convert into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that elevates our mood. Tryptophan has recently been successful in stopping emotional and binge eating, and is being used with great success to treat obesity and curb appetite.

Build healthy bones with cooling cucumber  

Cucumber salmon rolls
One of the greatest escapes in Canada is heading to a lake or river during summer. This recipe was created while boating through the Trent-Severn waterway with my mother and father-in-law. When summer temperatures hit 37 degrees, you just can’t bear to think of turning on the BBQ. These tasty rolls are packed with protein and omega 3, and the cucumber provides zeazanthin, which protects the eyes from the UV sunlight you might experience on a bright summer day.

1 medium English cucumber
100 grams smoked salmon
1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs
2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1. Cut cucumber in half crosswise.

2. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, cut thin strips lengthwise from each half, turning the cucumber as you reach the seeds. You want strips of cucumber with a band of green skin at the top and bottom.

3. Add a two-inch (five-centimetre) square piece of salmon to the cucumber strip.

4. Tear off dill springs into two-inch pieces and layer on top of salmon.

5. Top with some whole grain mustard.

6. Roll up the cucumber.
Makes four servings

Note: Smoked trout can be substituted for salmon.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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