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Scientifically termed as Rheum rhabarbarum, rhubarb belongs to the Polygonaceae family. Having a sour taste and thick stalks, the vegetable-fruit ranges in colour from pink to red to pale green. Rhubarb is normally consumed after cooking and sweetening it with sugar. During the early times, only the roots of rhubarb were used, and that too only for medicinal purposes. However, the stalks of rhubarb are now used in the preparation of sweet soups, jams, sauces, pies, tarts, crumbles, cocktails, and rhubarb wine  .
Also called as the pie plant, rhubarb is packed with various benefits that are advantageous to your health. Rhubarb has a taste similar to that of green apples as well as celery  . Only the stalks of the plants are consumed because the triangular leaves of the plant are harmful to your health due to the presence of high content of oxalic acid. The stalks should not be stored in cold temperatures because the harmful acid can migrate to the stalk, rendering it unfit for consumption  .
Nutritional Value Of Rhubarb
100 grams of the fruit contains 21 calories energy, 0.3 g fat, 0.8 g protein, 0.02 mg thiamine, 0.03 mg riboflavin, 0.3 mg niacin, 0.085 mg pantothenic acid, 0.024 mg vitamin B6, 0.27 mg vitamin E, 0.22 mg iron and 0.1 mg zinc.
The remaining nutrients present in 100 grams of rhubarb are as follows  :
- 4.54 g carbohydrates
- 1.8 g dietary fibre
- 7 mcg folate
- 6.1 mg choline
- 8 mg vitamin C
- 29. 3 mcg vitamin K
- 86 mg of calcium
- 12 mg magnesium
- 14 mg phosphorus
- 288 mg potassium
- 4 mg sodium
Health Benefits Of Rhubarb
From aiding digestion to promoting weight loss, the fruit-vegetable can help improve your digestion, stimulate bone growth amongst various other benefits  .
1. Aids weight loss
Low in calories, rhubarb is often recommended for individuals looking forward to losing some extra weight. The organic compounds in the fruit speed up your metabolism in a healthy manner, which in turn increases your body's ability to burn fat  .
2. Promotes digestion
The high amount of dietary fibre in rhubarb plays a major role in improving your digestion process. The fibre bulks up your stool and promotes better bowel movement. Consuming rhubarb can help cure digestion related issues such as constipation and gastrointestinal disorders such as cramping and bloating  .
3. Manages heart health
4. Boosts bone health
The vitamin K present in rhubarb plays a major role in improving your bone health. It helps promote osteotropic activity, thereby stimulating bone growth and repair  . Likewise, the vitamin's combination with the rich amount of calcium in rhubarb is critical for improving your bone health.
5. Prevents Alzheimer's
According to a study conducted in the Brain Research Bulletin, it was asserted that a compound found in rhubarb (rhaponticin) is effective in preventing and protecting your neurological system from the negative effects of amyloid beta, which are responsible for the creation of amyloid plaques found in the brain - responsible for Alzheimer's disease  .
6. Improves blood circulation
The presence of copper and iron in rhubarb help stimulate the growth of new red blood cells and increase the RBC count. These also help improve the oxygenation in your body and in turn boost and improve your blood circulation  .
7. Treats diabetes
The compound rhaponticin present in rhubarb is beneficial in improving and managing the blood sugar levels. This, in turn, aid in preventing the development of diabetes  .
8. Prevents cancer
A good source of beta-carotene and polyphenolic compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin, rhubarb is asserted to be beneficial in preventing the onset of cancer. It destroys the radical free cells and protects your cells from being any damage  .
Some of the other health benefits possessed by rhubarb are that it aids in improving your vision, treats perimenopause symptoms and delays the signs of ageing including wrinkles and fine lines.
How To Store Rhubarb
- Cut off the leaves and any imperfections.
- Wash the stalks properly and dry it.
- Chop rhubarb into small and even pieces.
- You can wrap it in a paper towel or foil and keep it in the fridge.
- For longer use, put it in a freezer bag (plastic) and make sure to let out the air in the bag.
Healthy Rhubarb Recipes
1. Carrot and rhubarb soup
- 2 ½ lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup rhubarb stalk, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 litre low sodium vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Toss the carrots, rhubarb, olive oil, black peppercorns, and cloves together in a mixing bowl and spread them out on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes and remove from oven.
- Add the turmeric and stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil on a medium high flame.
- Remove from stove and blend all the ingredients together until completely smooth.
- Cook the stock for another 15-20 minutes on a medium-low flame.
- Add salt and mix well.
2. Honey roasted rhubarb power greens salad
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 3 to 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups leafy greens, choose any
- 1 shallot, chopped
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 3 to 4 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- olive oil dressing
- fresh lemon
- Preheat oven to 230°C.
- Mix the chopped rhubarb with honey and balsamic vinegar.
- Roast the rhubarb for 8 to 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, toss the leafy greens, shallot, and carrots together.
- In another bowl, add the sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and sea salt, and black pepper and add in the salad.
- Squeeze fresh lemon and add olive oil and toss gently.
Side Effects Of Rhubarb
- Due to its laxative effects, rhubarb may cause stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting in certain people  .
- It may also cause abdominal cramping, bloating or appetite loss.
- Long-term consumption of rhubarb in large quantities can cause bone loss, weakness, potassium loss and heart rate irregularities.
- The high concentration of oxalic acid may develop kidney stones.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming rhubarb as it may cause uterine contractions  .
- Avoid rhubarb if you have a history of liver disease, arthritis, bowel disease or obstruction, or kidney-related health problems (kidney stones).
- Avoid consuming rhubarb supplements if you are suffering from hormone-sensitive health problems (ovarian cancer or uterine fibroids).
- If you are on blood thinners, avoid rhubarb as it can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Do not consume rhubarb if you are on laxatives.
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-  Matsuda, H., Kageura, T., Morikawa, T., Toguchida, I., Harima, S., & Yoshikawa, M. (2000). Effects of stilbene constituents from rhubarb on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages.Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters,10(4), 323-327.
-  Babu, K. S., Tiwari, A. K., Srinivas, P. V., Ali, A. Z., Raju, B. C., & Rao, J. M. (2004). Yeast and mammalian α-glucosidase inhibitory constituents from Himalayan rhubarb Rheum emodi Wall. ex Meisson.Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters,14(14), 3841-3845.
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-  Sanghi, D. K., & Tiwle, R. (2016). Importance of Village Plant Rhubarb.Int J Pharma Res Health Sci,4(6), 1438-1443.
-  Agarwal, P., Alok, S., Fatima, A., & Singh, P. P. (2013). Herbal remedies for neurodegenerative disorder (Alzheimer's disease): A Review.International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research,4(9), 3328.
-  Reiss, R., Johnston, J., Tucker, K., DeSesso, J. M., & Keen, C. L. (2012). Estimation of cancer risks and benefits associated with a potential increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.Food and chemical toxicology,50(12), 4421-4427.
-  Sharma, N. (2014, August 24). carrot and rhubarb soup [Blog psot]. Retrieved from, http://www.abrowntable.com/home/carrot-and-rhubarb-soup
-  Cotter crunch. (2016, February 22). Honey Roasted Rhubarb Power Greens Salad [Blog [post}. Retrieved from, https://www.cottercrunch.com/honey-roasted-rhubarb-power-greens-salad-recipe/
-  Yu, M., Luo, Y. L., Zheng, J. W., Ding, Y. H., Li, W., Zheng, T. Z., & Qu, S. Y. (2005). Effects of rhubarb on isolated gastric muscle strips of guinea pigs.World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG,11(17), 2670.
-  Liu, Y. F., Yu, H. M., Zhang, C., Yan, F. F., Liu, Y., Zhang, Y., ... & Zhao, Y. X. (2007). Treatment with rhubarb improves brachial artery endothelial function in patients with atherosclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.The American journal of Chinese medicine,35(04), 583-595.
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