One of the oldest and best-known plants in Chinese herbal medicine, known as the "king of herbs," rhubarb has been used for more than 2,000 years as a traditional and effective remedy for various maladies.
- Potent Pigments: Handsomely hued from light to dark green and pale pink to deep red, rhubarb is packed full of polyphenols, and particularly a class of pigments called anthocyanins that contain micronutrients with unique antioxidant properties. Research on polyphenols show they may play an important role in preventing a number of diseases, from cancer to cardio vascular disease to obesity.
- Parietin, an orange pigment naturally occurring in rhubarb (and lichens), has demonstrated real promise as a source for anticancer pharmaceuticals, even in cases where treatment has shown resistance. A preliminary study from the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University discovered that parietin may be capable of killing leukemia cells while leaving healthy blood cells unharmed, and can potentially slow the growth of other human cancer cells.
- June is prime time for rhubarb! Recent research suggests rhubarb harvested in the spring possesses increased antioxidant potential when compared with the fall harvest.
- This stellar stalk is a superb source of vitamin K, and is loaded with vitamin C, magnesium and potassium to boot. It's also chockfull of dietary fibre, so it’ll keep you regular. Likewise, the root is used in traditional medicines and herbal supplements for its laxative and diuretic effects.
This crimson crop also boasts impressive antiinflammatory properties. Preliminary tests discovered that rhubarb extract may be effective in healing incision sites postsurgery by helping to reduce inflammation and stimulate the development of new blood vessels. This is good news since risk of postop infection remains a top concern for patients.
Baking rhubarb can significantly increase its levels of polyphenols! Plus, adding rhubarb juice to strawberry jam or apple purée not only boosts their antioxidant power, but also reduces unfavourable colour changes.
Keep in Mind
Rhubarb contains oxalates, compounds that are difficult for the body to process. While oxalates are present in many fruits and vegetables, the high concentration in rhubarb (very high in the leaves, which should not be eaten), means that you should consume it only in moderation. And, as always, speak with your health-care provider before making any significant dietary changes.