Tart rhubarb is a Canadian favourite, and our cool northern climate has the perfect growing conditions for it. 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.
Here are five more reasons to give this veggie 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 predisposes 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 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.
This is a sinfully delicious recipe by my sister Lynn Daniluk. The curry delivers liver-supportive turmeric and the cardamom is a carminative herb that helps ease digestion.
Curry roasted chicken
12 large chicken thighs (bone in, skin removed)
2 tbsp (30 mL) organic apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) organic olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) curry powder
1 tbsp (30 mL) whole cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1. Place chicken thighs in a roasting pan and coat with apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for 10 minutes.
2. Grind whole cumin seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
3. Top chicken with olive oil, curry powder, ground cumin seed and salt. Mix to coast chicken. Let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
4. Cover roasting pan and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4 tbsp (60 mL) honey
1 tsp (10 mL) whole cardamom seeds
1. Grind whole cardamom seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
2. In a medium saucepan place rhubarb, blueberries, ground cardamom seeds and honey.
3. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.
4. Uncover saucepan and let the sauce reduce for another five minutes.
5. Serve with chicken as a dipping sauce.
Makes 6 servings
Do you know any great recipes with rhubarb?
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.