Is it a fruit or is it vegetable? Yes. Has it been around for centuries, or is it a relatively new food? Sure. We’re not being intentionally vague, we promise! Rhubarb has a long and confusing history that dates back centuries. While it’s always been classified as a vegetable, it’s thought of as a fruit in a lot of western countries because of its use in fruit-based recipes. Up until the 17th century, though, it was mainly used for medicinal purposes, until someone got the idea to stew it with sugar and put it in pies and other desserts.
What’s never been contested about rhubarb, though, is the nutritional value and health benefits. We’d go so far as to classify this as a super food, alongside kale, avocado, blueberries, and other fruits and veggies that pack a healthy punch. Check out how much rhubarb revs up your daily nutrient intake, and why it gives you the energy you need to keep up with your workouts. Plus, try out the recipe below for a new take on an old staple.
Nutrients in Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a great source of dietary fibers, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin K. It’s also packed with potassium, magnesium and manganese. It’s high in lutein and beta-carotenes, which provide much-needed support for your eyes and skin. The vibrant red color indicates that it’s full of antioxidants.
It’s low in saturated fat and sodium – but it’s super low in calories. For example, 100 grams of rhubarb is only 21 calories. Which means you can eat your fill, and not fill your caloric count for the day.
Health Benefits of Rhubarb
Where do we start with the health benefits of rhubarb? Because it’s chock-full of healthy nutrients, naturally it has a ton of different benefits for pretty much every aspect of our bodies.
Weight and Digestion
Rhubarb can aid any weight loss plan and keep you healthy. It helps your body optimize your metabolism and as a result, increases the rate at which your body burns fat. The dietary fiber found in rhubarb makes it a great diuretic, and keeps your digestive system healthy.
Brain and Heart
Vitamin K is so important to brain and neuronal health. It is known to stimulate cognitive activity, which can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. It also helps your brain avoid damage to neurons over time. The antioxidants and dietary fiber are also heart healthy, improving your circulation and lowering your chances of cardiovascular disease.
Skin and Bones
Your skin and bones benefit greatly from rhubarb. It’s beneficial to bone growth and repair, and the high level of calcium keeps your bones happy. Your skin and eyes love the organic compounds in rhubarb, and so does the rest of your body; these organic compounds combined with antioxidants have shown to help prevent cancer from free radicals.
Just like it’s history, ways to enjoy rhubarb are all over the map — though most of us know the best is strawberry-rhubarb pie. While you can’t go wrong with this time-tested recipe, life is all about pushing your comfort zone, expanding your horizons and trying something new, like this Chutney recipe shared by Washington Post.
Rhubarb-Date Chutney Recipe
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) orange juice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
½ cup pitted dates, chopped
In a medium saucepan, add orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon and bring to a lively simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Add rhubarb and dates, increase heat and bring back to lively simmer. Reduce heat and cook gently until rhubarb is fork tender, about 5 minutes. Rhubarb will puree on its own. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Makes about 1 ½ cups. Keeps well in the fridge for up to one week.