Rhubarb Rocks! A Medicinal and Culinary Gem

by | Jul 24, 2018 | Learn About Foods | 1 comment

eating for the planet

Did you know that rhubarb is considered a herb as well as a vegetable because the plant can be used for food flavoring as well as medicine (very often one in the same in my eyes!)

Caution with the leaves though! Those fellas are considered toxic! Keep only the stems and read on for the benefits and tips for preparation.

Rhubarb Benefits

Rhubarb is in season in spring and summer, and it is low in calories and full of fiber, potassium, and  vitamin C. It is commonly recommended to relieve stomach discomfort, constipation, and diarrhea. It has also been used medicinally in the treatment of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, gingivitis, and hemorrhoids.  Please note that it may act as a laxative, so caution should be taken not to ingest high doses of this plant to avoid excess diarrhea.

Some European herbalists have used it primarily as a laxative and diuretic to treat kidney stones, gout and liver diseases. There are also current medical trials assessing the effectiveness of rhubarb in treating cancer, hyperlipidemia, and obesity.

How To Eat It

The interesting thing about rhubarb is how dramatically it changes when cooked. What looks like it might be stringy, hard and bitter becomes silken and spicy. Most commonly, it is prepared (cooked) with sweet fruits such as strawberries or other berries because the sweet compliments the tartness of rhubarb very well.

Need To Know:

How to choose: Look for rhubarb that is firm and crisp. Check the cut ends to make sure they’re not dried out or softening.  Though we tend to think of it as being bright red, be aware that there are green varieties as well, and that even the red types might show a green blush at either end.

How to store: Keep rhubarb in the refrigerator sealed in a plastic bag.

How to prepare: Trim the cut ends and any leaves that remain – rhubarb leaves are high in oxalic acid, which is poisonous (though you’d have to eat quite a bit to become ill, it could upset your tummy). Rhubarb is sometimes stringy and some cooks prefer to peel it. That’s really not necessary, though — if the stalks seem a little stringy, I prefer to simply cut it into smaller pieces.

Looking for a recipe?

Try these squares from Registered Dietitian, Ginger Hultin

Happy Eating!


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First things first: I love chocolate. I love kale. And I consume them both regularly, but generally not at the same time (although, ask me about my chocolate, berry & kale smoothie!) I also love helping people find easy ways make their body, mind, and life better while also making eco-friendly choices that support the health of our planet.


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