Rhubarb is a member of Polygonaceae family, a group of flowering plants. It grows with short, thick stalks and large heart-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 oxalates, which may be harmful for individuals who have history of kidney problems..
Rhubarb is a seasonal plant and only thrives in warm climates. In cold season, harvesting fresh rhubarb is almost impossible, since the freezing temperature withers away the above portion of the plant.
Ancient people used rhubarb for treating different kinds of illnesses. The roots and stems of this plant have been found to have anthraquinones, a compound that contain laxative property, which is beneficial for individuals who have problem in digestion.
Rhubarb roots contain substantial amount of stilbenoid compounds, which are found to have great benefits in lowering blood sugar levels.
Rhubarb stalks are also rich in important vitamins, such as vitamin A, Vitamin B, and vitamin K. They are also found to be a great source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and essential minerals, including copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Alzheimer’s disease: Rhubarb contains a substantial amount of Vitamin K. This vitamin is useful for the brain. With adequate amount of this vitamin, the body can limit neuronal damage in the brain. This is beneficial for treating brain disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s.
Bone Problem: The rich vitamin K that is found in rhubarb stalks is essential for bone development, thus, great for individuals who are at risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders. It is also rich in calcium that is needed for bone development and growth.
Cancer: A great source of antioxidants, rhubarb is one of many vegetables that are beneficial for fighting and preventing cancer development.
Cholesterol: Rhubarb contains low-levels of sodium and saturated-fats, which is useful for individuals who have high cholesterol levels.
Diabetes: Studies have shown that rhubarb is rich in stilbenoid compound as well as other essential nutrients that help lower blood glucose levels.
Digestive disorders: Rhubarb rhizomes (stems) contain a good amount of dietary fiber and natural laxative properties, which are great for digestive health. Individuals who are suffering from constipation and diarrhea should include rhubarb in their diet regularly.
Immunity: Rhubarb is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps improves the body’s immune system.
Vision: Thanks to the beta-carotene, precursor of vitamin A in this vegetable, it is useful for improving vision and repair skin cells. It also has phytochemical such as lutein, which is beneficial for eyesight. If you have an eye problem, including rhubarb in your diet is a great help.
As mentioned, the leaves contain oxalates that may be harmful to individuals who have a history with kidney stones. You wouldn’t want to consume this part, since the leaves are poisonous. Furthermore, the leaves of rhubarb tend to take away the nutrients from the stalks.
Rhubarb stalks are rarely eaten raw. They are used in the preparations of different dishes, including pies, pancakes, muffins, and salads. Its juicy stalks can also be added in the preparations of juices.
As mentioned, rhubarb leaves contain high-levels of oxalates, a toxic substance, that may be harmful. Only eat the edible part, which is the stems, and disregard the leaves.