Tart rhubarb is a North American favourite. If you’re thinking about planting a rhubarb root (Rheum rhabarbarum) be sure to give it moist, well-drained soil and a bit of room to grow. Let the root establish itself for one year before harvesting the stalks. Be sure never to eat the greens as they are high in oxalic acid, which can contribute to kidney stones if consumed in large amounts.
Rhubarb’s main health benefits are its ability to promote detoxification and its power of astringency. An astringent substance is a chemical compound that shrinks or contracts body tissues, thereby diminishing discharges of mucus or blood.
For a tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Jam recipe, click here.
Here are five more reasons to give this rhubarb a try:
1. Rhubarb can help relieve constipation: Rhubarb is a natural laxative that has been traditionally used to treat episodes of constipation without creating a “lazy bowel,” which is a common side effect of repeated use of over-the-counter laxatives.
2. Include rhubarb to block the absorption of sugar: The fibres found in rhubarb have been shown to reduce the passive absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, even more so than other types of plant fibres. So including it in meals can help lower their glycemic index as well as boost your fibre intake!
3. Rhubarb aids in the treatment of cardiovascular disease: An active component of rhubarb has been shown to reduce the damage caused to the arterial walls that will predispose us to cardiovascular disease. This prevents the build-up of cholesterol and helps heal the cell walls in our blood vessels.
4. Rhubarb may help treat hepatitis B: The antiviral effects of rhubarb have been used for many years in Traditional Chinese medicine. These antiviral compounds are now being researched by western medicine to specifically treat hepatitis B as well as a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
5. Rhubarb is great for diabetics: Rhubarb contains various compounds called anthraquinones. Two of these compounds have been found to improve the transport of glucose into our cells, so it’s not hanging out in the bloodstream but is instead being used as fuel. This is normally the job of insulin, but in people who suffer from diabetes, the insulin pathway is impaired or desensitized.
1. New Laxative Constituents of Rhubarb. Isolation and Characterization of Rheinosides A, B, C and D: TAKASHI YAMAGISHI, MAKOTO NISHIZAWA, MITSUHIKO IKURA, KUNIO HIKICHI, GEN-ICHIRO NONAKA, ITSUO NISHIOKA
2. A Physiological Level of Rhubarb Fiber Increases Proglucagon Gene Expression and Modulates Intestinal Glucose Uptake in Rats: Raylene A. Reimer, Alan B. R. Thomson, Ray V. Rajotte, Tapan K. Basu, Buncha Ooraikul and Michael I. McBurney: 0022-3166/97 1997 American Society for Nutritional Sciences.
3. Piceatannol-3'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside as an active component of rhubarb activates endothelial nitric oxide synthase through inhibition of arginase activity: Ainieng Woo, Byungsun Min and Sungwoo Ryoo: EXPERIMENTAL and MOLECULAR MEDICINE, Vol. 42, No. 7, 524-532, July 2010
4. Traditional Chinese medicine and related active compounds against hepatitis B virus infection: Xiaoyan Cui, Yueling Wang, Norihiro Kokudo, Dingzhi Fang, Wei Tang: BioScience Trends. 2010; 4(2):39-47.
5. Anti-SARS coronavirus 3C-like protease effects of Rheum palmatum L. extracts: Weisheng Luo, Xiaojian Su, Shouji Gong, Yongjun Qin, Weibing Liu, Jia Li, Haiping Yu3, Qing Xu: BioScience Trends. 2009; 3(4):124-126.
6. Antioxidant constituents from rhubarb: structural requirements of stilbenes for the activity and structures of two new anthraquinone glucosides: Hisashi Matsuda, Toshio Morikawa, Iwao Toguchida, Ji-Young Park, Shoichi Harima, Masayuki Yoshikawa: Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Volume 9, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 41–50