There’s a good chance that you already know what rhubarb is, and have even had it as part of your diet. What you might not know, however, is that rhubarb actually has poisonous leaves that can’t be eaten by humans. What we eat is actually the stalks, which have a distinct tart taste that might not be for everyone. Rhubarb is often prepared with other foods and is given other ingredients to make the taste more pleasurable, but rhubarb should be eaten on its own.
That’s because rhubarb is incredibly healthy as a leafy green vegetable that can deliver a lot of benefits. Instead of the rhubarb pies or even the sugar filled dried version of the vegetable, most of us need to start eating a small amount of the raw form. To show you why, let’s have a closer look at the nutritional breakdown of rhubarb, and the proven health benefits that you’ll get when adding rhubarb to your diet.
Nutrition of Rhubarb
Rhubarb does a lot of great things as it provides a wide range of nutrients that you might not be getting enough of, while being very low in calories. At only around 25 calories per each one ounce serving, you get a small amount of protein with 10 percent of your daily fiber recommendation. In the vitamin department, rhubarb provides about half of your daily value of vitamin K and almost 20 percent of your vitamin C needs.
Other vitamins in smaller amounts (less than five percent daily value) include vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin and folate. Rhubarb also gives you at least 10 percent of the recommended amount of calcium, potassium and manganese. Rhubarb is a significant source of magnesium, too, with smaller amounts of phosphorus, selenium and iron. All this with almost no fat per serving and zero cholesterol, and 121 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.
There are many different aspects of rhubarb that make them fantastic for your heart health, starting with the high amount of fiber. Studies have shown that fiber can help reduce your cholesterol, especially the type that you get from a rhubarb stalk. These particular studies showed that there was an average drop of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels of around 10 percent. While that might not sound like much, that drastically reduces the chances of heart disease and heart attack.
Rhubarb is also extremely low in fat, with no saturated fat or cholesterol. There’s even anti-inflammatory properties within rhubarb that can cut your chances of heart disease. Other nutrients found in rhubarb that can help your heart include potassium to relieve stress in your blood vessels and folate. There’s a lot of good and nothing bad for your heart’s health in rhubarb’s nutrition.
Of course, to lose weight the thing that you have to do first and foremost is expend more calories than you take in. Rhubarb is considered by some to be one of those “negative calorie” foods when eaten in small amounts. You can eat an entire ounce of rhubarb, and only get 25 calories in each of those servings. The fiber also contributes to weight loss by helping you feel more full than processed junk foods that won’t fill you up.
Not only does fiber help you feel more full, but it also helps to boost your energy and metabolism. Combining rhubarb with a food that’s high in protein will make for a great meal that can burn fat and build muscle, sending your metabolism into overcharge. Just make sure you’re eating more than rhubarb if going on a weight loss plan!
When it comes to protecting your brain as you get older, one of the first compounds that we think about is omega-3 fatty acid, which has been proven to help over the years. While you won’t find many in rhubarb, what you will find is the underrated vitamin K. Vitamin K has recently been shown to protect your brain by regulating calcium, which in turn reduces your chances of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even those that have shown early signs of Alzheimer’s have received a benefit from getting more vitamin K as their symptoms didn’t increase. Vitamin K, along with several other nutrients in rhubarb, increase the circulation in your blood. That reduces your chance of stroke, in addition to the several neurological diseases that could happen as you start to approach an advanced age.
Getting more vegetables into your diet drastically reduces your chances of just about every disease in the book, thanks to the high amount of antioxidants. Out of all of the vegetables, rhubarb ranks toward the top in antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. All of these antioxidants are extremely powerful, and combine to fend off free radicals that can attack your body and cause diseases that include cancer.
Many of the diseases that we experience on a yearly basis are caused by viruses or bacteria, which antioxidants can also fight off. Just about every form of cancer can be reduced by getting more rhubarb into your diet, with specific studies showing that colon and lung cancer are the most affected. Even age related diseases that can reduce your vision can be prevented by rhubarb.
Much like many of the other leafy green vegetables out there, rhubarb contains a high amount of vitamin K that has a great benefit for your bones. If you don’t eat many vegetables, you might not be getting enough vitamin K, which puts you at a greater risk for bone loss and osteoporosis. Vitamin K helps to build your bones and can even benefit in repairing fractures, combining with the familiar nutrients like calcium to increase bone strength.
Summing it Up
With all of the great things that rhubarb can do, it seems like there has to be a catch that brings side effects. Of course, the first thing that people notice is the tart taste, which can make it hard to eat if it’s raw. If you can get over the taste, there are only a couple of things that you need to know about rhubarb. For starters, small children and women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should speak with a doctor before eating rhubarb as there could be side effects.
Rhubarb has also been linked to creating problems with people that already have certain diseases, especially in the digestive system, kidneys or liver. For those that aren’t affected by diseases in these areas, rhubarb shouldn’t cause any side effects. As always, though, make sure to speak with a doctor if you’re on medications to see what you can and can’t eat. With that said, rhubarb has a ton of great health benefits that you’ll enjoy, and adding rhubarb to your diet is simple!