Introducing rhubarb, the unsung hero of the vegetable world! Often overlooked and overshadowed by other popular produce, rhubarb is a powerhouse of nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that can significantly impact your overall health.
From bolstering your bone health to strengthening your heart, rhubarb boasts an impressive array of health benefits that are often overlooked. The beautiful, rich red color of this vegetable makes it a versatile ingredient in a variety of recipes, and you can even harness its power through a rhubarb supplement.
So, are you curious to learn more? Join us as we dive deeper into rhubarb’s five underrated health benefits and discover why this nutrient-dense veggie deserves a spot in your daily diet.
Key Takeaways on Rhubarb
- A fixture in Chinese medicine, rhubarb is a vegetable high in carbohydrates, fiber, and various nutrients (including anthocyanins).
- While more studies are needed to confirm this type of herbal medicine’s efficacy, rhubarb can help lower blood pressure, improve digestive health, and even prevent certain types of cancers.
Good Source of Antioxidants
Let’s talk about what antioxidants are and why they’re essential for your body. In short, antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking or drinking alcohol and can lead to cellular damage from oxidative stress. By consuming foods that contain antioxidants, you can help protect yourself from these harmful effects.
According to one study published in the journal Food Chemistry, rhubarb contains large amounts of polyphenols—a type of antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage.
Even more interesting about rhubarb is that cooking it increases the polyphenol count and overall antioxidant capacity. Raw rhubarb is good for you but has an acidic, tart flavor. Cook it up, and you can eat rhubarb in its most delicious form while enjoying the most health benefits.
Furthermore, some studies have even indicated that antioxidant-rich foods like rhubarb may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases like cancer or heart disease. While more research is needed on this topic, researchers believe that consuming antioxidant-rich foods can improve overall health in the long run.
May Help Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease and other life-threatening health conditions such as stroke and diabetes.
One study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that rhubarb extract had an antioxidant effect on human low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles—LDL being the “bad” type of cholesterol.
If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health, the rhubarb plant may be the key to lowering cholesterol levels and protecting your ticker in the long run. Of course, reducing your risk of high cholesterol is important by eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking.
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection. It’s usually characterized by swelling, redness, heat, and pain. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can cause serious health issues such as heart disease and even cancer. Fortunately, many natural remedies can help reduce inflammation and its associated symptoms. One of those remedies is rhubarb.
Studies show that rhubarb contains anti-inflammatory compounds such as berberine, aloe-emodin, and emodin. These compounds work together to suppress the inflammatory response and reduce oxidative stress.
Of course, it’s also important to note that rhubarb is rich in other nutrients that can support overall health and reduce inflammation. Some important ones are calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, manganese, and more.
Rhubarb can be used in many different forms to treat inflammation. The most popular form is tea from dried or fresh rhubarb root powder; it’s easy to make at home with boiling water and a few tablespoons of powdered root.
You can also find supplements in pill form or liquid extracts that contain the same active ingredients found in rhubarb root powder for those who don’t want to make their own tea. You can even add fresh or frozen diced rhubarb to your favorite recipes for an added boost of anti-inflammatory power!
May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer is a disease in which cells grow uncontrollably within our body. It can occur almost anywhere—in the lungs, liver, skin, and more. Cancer begins when one or more cells develop mutations in their DNA.
These mutations cause them to divide rapidly, form new cells, and spread throughout other parts of the body. This process is known as metastasis; it’s bad news because it means that tumors (the clusters of these cancerous cells) can pop up anywhere in our bodies if left unchecked.
So what does this have to do with rhubarb? It turns out that certain compounds found in rhubarb leaves may help prevent cancer from developing or spreading at all!
One study published by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that emodin, derived from Chinese rhubarb, helped stop breast cancer cells from multiplying and spreading around our bodies.
Another study on mice showed that another compound found in Chinese rhubarb leaves had powerful anti-tumor effects on colon cancer tumors.
Unfortunately, both studies were done on animals or individual cell cultures rather than humans, so these results should not be considered gospel—but it certainly looks promising!
Of course, discussing potential health treatments with your healthcare provider before trying anything new is always the best practice.
A well-functioning digestive system can help keep your immune system strong, reduce inflammation, and may even aid in weight loss! It can also help ensure that your body gets all the essential vitamins and minerals from food.
Some studies have found that rhubarb contains compounds called anthraquinones, which help promote regular bowel movements by stimulating muscle contractions in the intestines.
In addition, some research has suggested that rhubarb may also have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help reduce inflammation in the gut and promote better digestion. It is also high in dietary fiber, meaning it can help relieve constipation and serve as nature’s laxative.
That said, it’s important to be aware that rhubarb, at high concentrations, can lead to kidney stones because of the oxalate in rhubarb. If this concerns you, be sure to ask your doctor whether consuming rhubarb will be safe for you.
To further support these findings, one study found that taking an extract from rhubarb leaves decreased diarrhea symptoms in participants who had taken antibiotics for infections. While more research is needed on this topic, these results are promising and suggest that there may be benefits to consuming rhubarb for improved digestion.
Rhubarb is an incredibly versatile plant, making it easy to incorporate into your diet. It can be eaten raw or cooked into pies, jams, sauces, and more! Who doesn’t love a tasty strawberry rhubarb pie? You can also make tea from dried rhubarb root or buy pre-made tea bags from most health food stores.
Remember that eating just one kind of food will only provide some of the nutrients you need; eating various foods is still key. And while rhubarb has been shown to have potential benefits for reducing cholesterol levels, it should only be consumed by consulting a doctor first; some people may experience side effects such as cramping or diarrhea if they consume too much rhubarb at once.
Nevertheless, rhubarb offers many promising benefits, and it’s delicious to boot. So consider incorporating some into your diet today!