If you really want to be “cucumber cool” add them to your menus especially now since the warmer months are on their way (or already here for some of us). The flesh of a cucumber is primarily composed of water and also contains vitamin c and caffeic acid (both help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling). Other nutrients found in cucumbers included fiber, vitamin A, potassium, manganese, and folate to name a few. Health benefits of cucumbers include cardiovascular benefits and can even help to improve your complexion.
The cardiovascular benefits found in the consumption of cucumbers were outlined in a study conducted by DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The participants diagnosed with high blood pressure added foods high in potassium, magnesium and fiber. As a result their blood pressure dropped to healthier levels and when combined with other heart healthy foods they were able to lower their blood pressure by 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic).
Getting adequate dietary fiber on a daily basis can be a challenge for some of us, but adding a fresh crunchy cucumber to your salads (or just as a snack) is great way to increase your heart healthy fiber intake. Also if consuming more fluids is one of your health goals for the year then cucumbers can help keep you on track thanks to the amount of water found in cucumbers, which is also needed when consuming more fiber. Plus added to the package is a bonus of vitamin C, silica, potassium and magnesium.
If you’re longing for a radiant complexion then reach for a cool cucumber. The silica in cucumber is identified as an essential component of healthy connective tissue. This includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone and yes skin. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a natural source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin. Plus cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating- an absolute must for glowing skin. Ever wonder why cucumbers are applied to the eyes to banish puffiness? Two compounds in cucumbers, ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, prevent water retention thereby reducing puffiness. Cucumbers are also used topically for various types of skin problems, such as sunburn and dermatitis.
Cucumbers are very sensitive to heat, so you should choose ones that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at their edges and their color should be bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, or wrinkled at the tips. Also be careful of cucumbers whose skin has a wax coating. It is highly recommended that you should choose cucumbers that are unwaxed, so the nutrient-rich skin can be consumed without consuming the wax and any chemicals trapped in it. Cucumbers can be enjoyed sliced just as they are or added to tuna fish or chicken salad recipes or sliced and used as serving dishes. However you wish to enjoy them, cucumbers give your body a nutrient boost as well as a dose of healthy hydration.
There was a time when exercise was a part of every child’s life. I certainly remember my father telling me stories from his youth involving long walks to and from school (with a varying range of distances), neighborhood games of football and the dreaded dodge-ball game at recess. By the time I got to high school physical education classes weren’t in existence and outdoor activities were replaced by computers and video games (even more so today). Unfortunately, physical education is now viewed as an expendable part of the educational curriculum. However, there is no question that children need to be physically active to not only stay healthy but to perform optimally in school as well.
With increasing pressures to improve standardized test scores while reducing budgets, schools across the country have eliminated physical education programs. Back in 2006 only 3.8 percent of elementary schools and 2.1 percent of high schools still offered daily physical education classes. Unfortunately, these numbers have grown despite the growing body of scientific evidence linking physical activity to improved academic performance. Dr. John Rately, a Hazard clinical associate profess of psychiatry, stated that regular exercise is important to improving function and performance of the brain by the release of proteins into the blood stream that increase the production of brain chemicals that improve connections between existing neurons thereby improving brain function. Dr. Rately also stated that dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine released during activity help to increase focus and induce feeling of calmness.
There are some positive signs that support for school-based physical education program is increasing. Newly introduced legislation seeks to increase the amount of allotted for physical activity and recess during the school day. Some officials are recognizing that the benefits of physical activity go well beyond academic performance. Physically active children tend to have fewer chronic health problems and have a stronger self-image and more self-confidence.
All things considered, it makes good sense to encourage physical activity among kids, not just in school but at home too. Parents, teachers, and coaches all have role to play. All of us can help kids think positively about exercise and motivate them to take part in regular physical activity as a life time pursuit. Parents can certainly help lead by example at home by participating with their children in their favorite physical activity or even starting a new physical activity as a family “tradition”. Parents can also attend school board meetings and voice their support for keeping physical activity as part of the school curriculum. Your support can help your child to continue to build strong bodies and strong minds allowing them to live a more healthful life.
Until next week…