Can you eat rhubarb without cooking?

In this article we will answer the question, “can you eat rhubarb without cooking? We will explain the toxicity of the leaves and why caution should be taken when eating raw rhubarb. We will also briefly go through the nutritional composition and health benefits of eating rhubarb.

Can you eat rhubarb without cooking?

Yes, you can eat rhubarb without cooking. Rhubarb is a vegetable that is commonly used as a fruit in the making of desserts and baked goods. 

It is mostly a perennial plant and it does well in cool climates and regions. It is also sometimes grown as an ornamental plant (plants grown for aesthetics and display) because it has very beautiful red stalks and green leaves.

Are the leaves of Rhubarb poisonous?

Yes, the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous. The leaves contain an organic compound known as oxalic acid. Rhubarb vegetable has about 570–1,900mg of oxalate in a 100g sample, this is majorly concentrated in the leaves which have oxalate levels between 0.5% to 1.0%

Oxalic acid is toxic to animals and humans and if you consume a large amount of rhubarb leaves, this can result in oxalic acid poisoning. Some symptoms of the poisoning include nausea, stomach ache, vomiting, a burning and/or painful sensation in the mouth. It can also cause more severe problems  such as kidney stones and even kidney failure.

Another consequence of consuming a lot of Rhubarb is it contains high levels of Vitamin K. Vitamin K usually counteracts the effects of blood thinning medication which are prescribed to people as a way of preventing blood clots. 

If a person is taking anticoagulants, it is best they stay away from rhubarbs and other foods with high Vitamin K content.

So, if you have to consume raw rhubarb it is advised that you skip the leaves and eat the stalks. Let’s take a look at some ways to eat raw rhubarb.

How to eat raw rhubarb?

Rhubarb can be eaten raw, but it tends to be too tart for the palate. So, to best enjoy it raw, it is advisable to first dip the stalks into something really sweet and sugary. 

You can dip the stalks in honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. This will help mask the tartness and you munch away your rhubarbs. You can as well sprinkle your rhubarb if they have been chopped in some yogurt or cereal and enjoy.

What are the health benefits of rhubarb?

Rhubarb is an extremely beautiful yet also nutritious vegetable. It comes rich in nutrients, a cup of rhubarb contains the below:

  • Calories: 26
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram

Some health benefits of rhubarb are;

An excellent source of fiber

Just like other veggies and fruits, rhubarb has a good amount of fiber. It contains about 2 grams of fiber per cup. Fiber helps in bowel movement and is good for overall digestive health.

Reduces Cancer Risk

The stalks of rhubarbs are rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are flavonoids which also function as antioxidants. Rhubarbs are also rich in another antioxidant known as phenolic acid. 

They help protect against oxidative stress in the body and cell damages by fighting any free radicals that may be present. This helps reduce the risk against certain types of cancers.

Good for bone and heart health

As earlier mentioned Rhubarb is a good source of fiber. Fiber is instrumental because it helps in the lowering of cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol is important because it reduces the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

Reduces inflammation

Rhubarb contains antioxidants that help to fight inflammation. This is because of the antioxidants anthocyanins. According to research, anthocyanins possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activity. They help to prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It helps with digestion

Rhubarb has also been found to help with digestion and other gastrointestinal orders. Research showed it contains tannins that help in the regulation of water absorption in the digestive tract hence help in the prevention of diarrhea.

How do you store rhubarb?

If you reside in a place with a cool and dry climate, you can store rhubarb on the counter so as to prevent bacterial spoilage. This is also ideal if you are planning to use the rhubarb soon.

You can as well refrigerate or freeze your rhubarb. If freezing make sure to chop the stalks to about 1 inch pieces then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have discussed the question, ‘Can you eat rhubarb without cooking?” We explained the toxicity of the leaves and why caution should be taken when eating raw rhubarb. We also briefly went through the nutritional composition and health benefits of eating rhubarb.

Citations

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.