Rhubarb is a member of the Polygonaceae family, a group of flowering plants.
It has short, thick stalks with large triangular-shaped leaves. Its thick-red stalks, which have a resemblance to celery, are actually the only edible part of this plant. Other parts, particularly the leaves of Rhubarb, contain a high concentration of oxalic acid, which is not recommended for people with history of kidney problems.
Rhubarb is a seasonal plant and thrives in warm climates. In the cold season, harvesting fresh rhubarb is almost impossible, since the freezing temperature withers away the above portion of the plant.
Rhubarb stalks are rich in important vitamins, such as vitamin A, C, K and the B vitamins.
They are also found to be a great source of dietary fiber, high antioxidants, and essential minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.
Rhubarb has been used since ancient days, for remedy of many ailments. Recent studies show that it is also useful for preventing many chronic diseases:
Alzheimer’s Disease: Rhubarb contains a substantial amount of Vitamin K which is useful for the brain. Adequate amount of this vitamin can limit the neuronal damage in the brain. This is beneficial for preventing and delay Alzheimer’s Disease.
Anti-ageing: The high amounts of antioxidants in rhubarb helps fight free radicals that cause pre-mature ageing. Vitamin C in this vegetable is necessary for the synthesis of collagen that prevents premature wrinkles and sagging skin.
Anti-inflammation: Rhubarb promotes blood circulation, thus also helps relieve pains in cases of injury, and reduce inflammation.
Bone Strength: Vitamin K found in rhubarb stalk is also essential for bone development, thus, great for individuals who are at risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders. It is also rich in calcium, a kind of nutrient that is also needed for bone growth and development.
Cancer: A great source of antioxidants, rhubarb becomes one of the many vegetables helping to fight and prevent cancer development.
Cholesterol: Rhubarb contains low-levels of sodium and saturated-fats, which is beneficial for naturally lowering high cholesterol levels.
Constipation: The roots and stems of this plant have been found to have anthraquinone, a compound that is a natural laxative, which is helpful for digestion. Individuals suffering from constipation, diarrhea or IBS, should include rhubarb in their diet.
Digestive Health: The astringent property in rhubarb makes it a great tonic for digestive health, improves peristaltic movements, prevents intestinal health issues, loosen stools and helps ease chronic constipation.
Diabetes: Studies show that rhubarb is rich in a compound called stilbenoid that helps lower blood sugar levels.
Immunity: Rhubarb is an excellent source of Vitamin C, that helps build the body’s immune system.
Gallbladder Health: Rhubarb has cholagogue properties that promote bile production for good digestive health.
Liver Health: More recent studies have shown that rhubarb root is helpful for liver health, even possibly be a remedy for hepatitis B.
Vision Health: The high content of vitamin A and lutein makes rhubarb beneficial for improving vision.
When buying rhubarb, you want only the stalk. If it comes with the leaves, cut them off before you store them in the fridge. With time, the leaves may drain the nutrients from the stalks.
Rhubarb stalks can be eaten raw, in moderation. It’s crispy and juicy like celery, and has a strong tarty taste and flavor.
They are usually stewed or baked with only small amount of water (to preserve the nutrients) with some honey. They can also be used in the preparations of different dishes, including pies, pancakes, muffins, and salads.
As mentioned, rhubarb leaves contain high-levels of oxalates, a toxic substance, that is harmful for individuals who have history of kidney problems. Only eat the edible part, which is the stalks, and discard the leaves.
Rhubarb consumption is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers and individuals who may have intestinal obstruction.