It's spring, and our thoughts are starting to turn away from comfort foods and toward refreshing, crisp summertime foods. Filled with nutrients, cucumber and arugula are two super-refreshing pieces of produce that can really boost your health.
Crisp, cool, and delicious, cucumbers are a great addition to a healthy diet. You can stack them on sandwiches, add them to salads, soak them in ice cold water to create a refreshing drink, or serve them with dips such as this delicious one: "Spicy Curry Ranch Dip."
Though cucumbers may seem a bit insubstantial, you're actually packing a surprising number of nutrients into your body when you eat them. Below are just some of these important components and how they can add to your health.
- Potassium is a mineral that is important for heart and bone health.
- Fiber is high in cucumber skin and seeds. It is essential for healthy digestion and also helps you feel fuller, so you are less likely to overeat.
- Water is a large component of a cucumber's make-up. They help keep you hydrated and aid your digestive tract in working better.
- Vitamin C is high in cucumbers. This vitamin is helpful in maintaining healthy skin, cartilage, tendons, and blood vessels.
Phytonutrients are a class of substances that are used by plants to maintain their health. Researchers have shown them to be useful to the human body, as well. Cucumbers contain many phytonutrients. Some of them are listed here.
- Fisetin, a substance that has anti-inflammatory effects, can help protect brain health and enhance memory.
- Lignans are phytochemicals that help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Quercetin is a strong antioxidant and helps lessen the release of histamine, and thus allergic reactions, in the body. Among many other things, it also aids in the absorption of vitamin C. You can learn more about this phytonutrient at quercetin.com.
- Kaempferol has powerful antioxidant effects that can help reduce the risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and decrease pain and allergic responses.
It's important to choose organic cucumbers if you can because pesticides are used heavily on conventional ones. The skins are also waxed to keep the cucumbers good during transport. The wax locks the pesticides in, and it can also be toxic itself. Organic cucumbers may still be waxed but usually with natural materials such as beeswax. Still, it's important to remove the wax before eating the cucumber and water isn't enough to do so. Use an organic fruit cleaner rather than peeling the cucumber because many of the nutrients reside in the skin.
Have you ever heard the term "cool as a cucumber"? It's true: cucumber has a cooling effect on the body, making for a refreshing snack. It can also be cut into slices and placed on the eyes to reduce inflammation and puffiness of the skin there.
This tender type of green leafy vegetable is sometimes called "rocket" because of its shape and surprising taste. The small leaves are tender and delicious while the larger ones have a bit of a tangy flavor.
Some of the health benefits of arugula are listed here.
- Fiber is high in arugula. It helps the digestive tract work well.
- Vitamin A, important for a healthy immune system and eye health, is plentiful in arugula.
- Vitamin C is valuable for repairing wounds and maintaining healthy cartilage and skin.
- Vitamin K is another nutrient that's present in high amounts in arugula. In fact, 1 cup contains ¼ of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K for women. This vitamin is important for proper blood clotting.
- Folic acid, or folate, present in arugula, is important for preventing certain types of birth defects, so it's important for pregnant women to get enough. Folate is also linked with a decreased risk of certain cancers and lowered rates of depression.
- Iron is necessary for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Arugula contains high levels of iron.
Arugula has properties that can help rid the body of heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides, and aid in cleansing the liver.
Arugula is great as an addition to other greens in a salad to achieve a variety of tastes, but it is also delicious when used as a replacement for lettuce on sandwiches. It provides a nice tang in soups. Throw some on your homemade pizza to get some extra nutrients into your family; arugula's taste goes great with tomato-based sauces.