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Rich in Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a versatile vegetable that comes in red, pink, and green. Its stalks are edible and highly nutritious, but its leaves are poisonous.

Rhubarb’s flavor is quite tart, so it’s typically paired with sugar and berries. It’s often added to treats such as pies, muffins, fruit crisps and crumbles, smoothies, and punches, though there are savory recipes available online as well (you can find a selection at La Cucina Italiana).

Rhubarb is a source of vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber, as well as being rich in health-promoting antioxidants including anthocyanins (the compounds that give red, blue, and purple foods their color) and lycopene (also found in tomatoes).

Eating antioxidant-rich foods such as rhubarb may help to protect against cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and a variety of other health problems.

Research has shown that cooking rhubarb does not decrease its disease-fighting antioxidant content. In fact, cooking appears to actually increase its antioxidant capacity.

Rhubarb has traditionally been used as a home remedy for a broad array of complaints, including indigestion, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea. However, there has not been sufficient research conducted to evaluate its effectiveness for any of these uses.

Rhubarb can cause health problems when large quantities are consumed. The amounts called for in recipes aren’t likely to be harmful, but medicinal doses may have adverse consequences, particularly for those with pre-existing health conditions.

Due to its oxalate content, those with a tendency toward kidney stones or other kidney problems should avoid rhubarb. Also, rhubarb is an effective natural laxative, so eating large quantities can cause digestive upsets and diarrhea.

Sources
NHS, UK Government, “Claims over Rhubarb Cure Crumble,” 12 February 2010.
Payne, D., “5 Ways Rhubarb will Boost Your Health and 5 Tasty Rhubarb Recipes,” Canadian Living, 10 June 2011.
Trowbridge Filippone, P., “Rhubarb Health,” About.com, n.d.
WebMD, “Rhubarb,” 2013.

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