S. Raheel Haque
Summertime is right around the corner—a time to soak up the sun on the outside and keep cool on the inside. What better way than to crunch into a crisp, cool slice of cucumber, nature’s own Freon® (minus the toxins). Many cultures and medical healing traditions around the world and throughout history have used cucumbers in one way or another to assist the body in what it does best: regulate. Even our very own beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him [PBUH]) used to consume this blessed vegetable.
The properties of cucumbers are what make them such a sensational snack. Created to contain around 95 percent water, it’s not a coincidence that these veggies grow primarily during the summer months. They also pack a considerable nutritional boost. According to the Food and Drug Administration, just one cup of cucumbers contains a daily value of 8 percent vitamin A, 20 percent vitamin C, and 4 percent each calcium and iron. These values may vary depending on the type of cucumbers you consume.
I can almost hear the question coming…
Yes, it’s true, most home gardeners categorize them into four types: slicing, pickling, specialty, and burpless cucumbers. They range in looks from long, straight, and green, to short, round, and yellow. Slicing and pickling cucumbers are named after the atrocities they face after being picked. Specialty cucumbers are known for their unique colors and shapes. One in particular, the lemon cucumber, is small, round, and yellow, closely resembling a lemon. If you have trouble properly digesting cucumbers, I would suggest the burpless variety, which has the unique quality of being easy to digest.
These different qualities, colors, flavors, and textures are all part of God’s signs. It is quoted that the past generations said, “… ‘O Moses, we can never endure one [kind of] food. So call upon your Lord to bring forth for us from the earth its green herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions.’ [Moses] said, ‘Would you exchange what is better for what is less?” (Quran 2:61). What is considered to be “less” in this verse (cucumbers, garlic, lentils, and onions), is exactly what we are striving to implement in our diets on a daily basis in order to bring ourselves into a state of good health.
It is even noted in a hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) “…ate Qith’thaa (cucumbers) with dates” (Shamail Muhammadiyah). The relationship between these two foods being eaten together may not make sense to the average person, but according to Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Medicine of the Prophet and practitioners of Unani medicine, commonly used in the Muslim world, cucumbers have a cooling effect that dates balance out with their opposite quality of heat.
The world of modern day nutrition and natural medicine has a slightly different, and clearly more technical, view of the beneficial qualities of cucumbers. Dr. Denis Marier, naturopathic doctor and clinician at the National University of Health Sciences, based in Lombard, Illinois, says cucumbers have many components that “…assist in long term health, including a flavonol called fisetin, which helps in fighting Alzheimer’s and diseases of the brain; vitamin C, beta carotene, and quercetin, which are antioxidants; B vitamins which are anti stress and increase energy levels; and potassium for general heart health.” He went on to add, “Ayurvedic medical practitioners and traditional Chinese medical practitioners use cucumbers for their cooling effect, and spas will even put cucumbers in drinking water to decrease reflux and heartburn.” Dr. Marier also reinforced the importance of consuming the peel and seeds of cucumbers, as well as other fruits and vegetables, when feasible, as many of the nutrients lie there.
They contain 95% water.
They grow primarily during summer months.
1 cup of cucumbers = 8% vitamin A, 4% iron, 20% vitamin C, 4% calcium
|They are named after the atrocities they face after being picked.||Known for their unique colors and shapes.||Has the unique quality of being easy to digest.|
S. Raheel Haque is a student of Naturopathic Medicine, currently studying at the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS). He aspires to master complementary and alternative medicine as well as study the traditional Islamic sciences.