Wanna Know Why Cucumbers Are Cool?

August 3, 2016

By Anna Varriano

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I’m sure you’ve used and/or heard the expression “cool as a cucumber” at some point – but have you ever wondered about the origin of the expression?cucumber being cool

When you say that someone is ‘cool as a cucumber’, it means that they are calm and imperturbable – ‘that is, they are able to keep their cool’ – even when they are in a stressful or ‘heated’ situation.

This expression is probably based on the fact that even in hot weather, the inside of a cucumber stays cooler than the hot air around it. If you have the opportunity to pick a cucumber from a garden on a hot summer day, check it out!

Here are a few other cool facts about cucumbers that may be of interest to you:

  • In Ontario, cucumber season is from June to October. Eating local is a big part of healthy eating, so now is a great time to enjoy cucumbers! Check out Harvest Ontario to see when various fresh fruits and veggies are in season in Ontario
  • Cucumbers are a rich source of phytonutrients called lignans and  cucurbiticans. Research shows they are connected with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and numerous cancers. Cucumbers also have anti-inflammatory properties.

To Peel or Not to Peel?

cucumber peelMany people peel and remove the seeds from cucumbers; however, the skin and seeds are rich in nutrients (as is the case with most fruits and veggies). Unfortunately, conventionally grown cucumbers (that means they are not organic) are on the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce ‘Dirty 12’ list. This means that they were rated among the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues.

If the cucumbers you are eating are not organic, I suggest you wash and peel them before eating them. If they are organic, I still suggest you wash them (I wash all my store-bought produce with an organic biodegradable cleaner), but leave the peel on. Note that cucumbers might be waxed. If they’re organic, the wax should be food grade; if they’re not organic, the wax may not be food grade – and the pesticide residues will be ‘stuck’ under the wax.

Regarding the seeds, I see many people scooping the seeds out of cucumbers because they don’t like to eat them. If you have an aversion to cucumber seeds, an in interesting fact is that thin-skinned cucumbers generally have fewer seeds than thick-skinned ones. I will sometimes scoop the seeds out of cucumbers that I’ve cut in half length wise, and then fill these ‘cucumber boats’ with egg, tuna, or salmon salad. It’s a yummy way to avoid bread and get more veggies into our meals and snacks!

A Few Cucumber Recipe Ideas

Not sure how else to enjoy cucumbers other than eating cucumber slices or putting them in a salad? Here are a couple of recipes to try:

tzatzikiTsatziki is a delicious and refreshing dish that can be used as a veggie dip, a salad topping, or a condiment with grilled chicken. Check out my tzatziki recipe here.

I recently came across this delicious cold cucumber soup recipe on the Food & Wine website. While I haven’t tried this specific recipe, I’ve made similar ones and they are delicious. If you want a thinner soup or would rather avoid dairy, you can substitute the yogurt with vegetable broth.

Cucumbers as a Beauty Booster?

… and finally … a burning question I bet might be on your mind … do cucumbers really help with puffy eyes?

cucumbers on eyes

While you likely won’t find any clinical research that definitively answers the question, those who do this claims it helps (that includes me!). Here’s an interesting quote from a dermatologist who was interviewed for a Huffington Post article on the topic:

“If puffiness is accompanied by irritation, home remedies like cucumbers or chamomile tea can help reduce the inflammation and swelling,” says Dr. Nikolaidis. “Cucumbers have powerful antioxidants and flavonoids that are thought to reduce irritation. And they need to be chilled for a reason, as he points out that “cold cucumbers or tea bags also work in part by the cooling effects of evaporation, and are best applied for four to five minutes.”

Pretty cool huh? :o)

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