Although rhubarb is technically a vegetable, in 1947 the U.S. Customs Court in Buffalo, New York ruled that rhubarb should be considered a fruit since it is used typically as a fruit would be. Huh?
What’s not confusing is that rhubarb’s ability to taste like fruit while actually being a vegetable, makes rhubarb recipes both delicious and plentiful. Plus, this power-packed plant is loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which can bring big benefits when it comes to your health.
Although the rhubarb plant was originally used in many forms of traditional medicine, it has become a popular ingredient in a wide range of desserts, including pies, crisps and cakes.
Rhubarb stalks and flowers are the only edible parts of the plant. This is very important to know since the leaves are actually poisonous.
Top 6 Health Benefits of Rhubarb
- Eases Digestion
As a high-fiber food, adding this vegetable to your diet may be an effective way to help ease digestion. Rhubarb could help protect the intestinal wall through the increased secretion of gastrointestinal hormones while providing normal contraction of the muscles that mix the contents of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Strengthens Bones
Rhubarb packs a good dose of vitamin K, which plays a central role in bone metabolism and may even offer protection against osteoporosis. This is because vitamin K is required for the carboxylation of osteocalcin, an important protein hormone that is involved in bone formation and bone turnover.
- May Stave Off Brain Disorders
Rhubarb is a great source of antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help fight free radical formation to protect and promote better brain health.
In fact, research has shown that rhubarb extract significantly decreases irradiation-induced inflammation in the brain and can potentially help stave off brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, ALS and stroke, among others.
- Fights Free Radicals
Rhubarb is a high-antioxidant food and contains a host of powerful free-radical scavengers like quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant flavonoid that gives plants its colour.
- Relieves Constipation and Diarrhea
Rhubarb is often referred to for its laxative properties, which are used to ease bowel movements and promote regularity. It’s been known to help reduce strain during bowel movements and, in turn, can help ease the pain of hemorrhoids or tears in the skin lining of the anal canal, known as anal fissures.
As an herbal medicine, it can also help treat gastrointestinal discomfort that comes from constipation and diarrhea.
- Reduces Inflammation
Rhubarb has long been used in Chinese medicine for its healing properties. It is thought to help promote healthy skin, improve vision and aid in cancer prevention. All of this is due to its antioxidant content and its powerful role as an anti-inflammatory food.
Rhubarb powder is effective at reducing inflammation and improving the prognosis for patients with systemic inflammatory reaction syndrome (SIRS), a serious condition that sometimes occurs in response to trauma or infection. Rhubarb extract helps promote incision healing by reducing inflammation and blocking the growth of bacteria.
Rhubarb Nutrition Facts
Rhubarb is low in calories but high in fiber and key micronutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese.
One cup (about 122 grams) of diced, raw rhubarb contains the following nutrients:
- 26 calories
- 5.5 grams carbohydrates
- 1.1 grams protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 2.2 grams fiber
- 35.7 micrograms vitamin K (45 percent DV)
- 9.8 milligrams vitamin C (16 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram manganese (12 percent DV)
- 105 milligrams calcium (10 percent DV)
- 351 milligrams potassium (10 percent DV)
- 14.6 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
Source: draxe.com and foodnetwork.ca