What to do with Rhubarb

    Rhubarb nutrition facts

    Rhubarb is a perennial herb grown for its attractive succulent rose red, edible leafy stalks. This cool-season?plant is native to Siberia, and popular in many regions of Europe and North America as “pie plant.” In its natural habitat, the plant expands over the ground surface as a large spread.
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    Botanically, it belongs to the family of Polygonaceae, in the genus: Rheum, and known as Rheum rhabarbarum.
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    Rhubarb is easy to grow and lives for many years (10-15 years) once established. It is usually propagated through implanting old rhizomes (roots) divisions. Well grown plant features broad, heart shaped, dark-green leaves with 12 to 18 inches long leaf-petioles. It is these petioles which are being used (up on discarding their leaf part)?for human consumption. Its petioles (stalks) can be ready for harvesting from second year onwards when the stalks reach sufficient size of about one to two inches in thickness.
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    Several cultivars exist. Some of the popular varieties grown in the USA are Canada red, cherry red, Burgess-`Colossal’, MacDonald, ruby, valentine,…etc. Generally, red varieties preferred since they tend to have more subtle, and delicious stalks.

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    Health benefits of Rhubarb

    • Rhubarb is one of the least calorie vegetables. 100 g fresh petioles provide just 21 calories. Nonetheless, it holds some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Further, its petioles contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.

    • The stalks are rich in several B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.

    • Red color stalks carry more vitamin-A than in the green varieties. Further, the stalks also contain small amounts of poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like β-carotene, zea xanthin, and lutein. These compounds convert into vitamin A inside the human body and deliver same protective effects of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant which is required by the body for maintaining integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for healthy eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.

    • As in other greens like kale, spinach, etc., rhubarb stalks too provide good amounts of vitamin-K. 100 g of fresh stalks provide 29.3 μg or about 24% of daily recommended intake of this vitamin. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment?of Alzheimer's disease.

    • Its stalks also contain healthy levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, most of these minerals do not absorb into the body as they undergo chelate into insoluble complexes by oxalic acid, which then excreted out.

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