A new study shows that rhubarb has some little known health benefits. Discover what they are.
Rhubarb may not be the most popular vegetable on the produce stand, but it still makes a pretty tasty jam. Rhubarb lovers, take heart. This underappreciated vegetable may soon be getting the respect it deserves if the results of a new study hold true. According to new research published in the journal Food Chemistry, rhubarb could be important in the fight against cancer.
The Health Benefits of Rhubarb: Does It Ward Off Cancer?
Researchers have discovered that British rhubarb has natural chemicals called polyphenols that may help destroy cancer cells. To best harness the effects of the cancer blasting polyphenols in this veggie, rhubarb needs to be exposed to heat – by baking it in the oven. Researchers are hoping that the polyphenols found in British rhubarb can be used to create new anti-cancer drugs that will work when cancer cells become resistant to commonly used cancer chemotherapy drugs.
Health Benefits of Rhubarb is Enhanced by Baking It
Most people think that eating vegetables raw is better for you. Not so in this case. The anti-cancer benefits of British rhubarb are enhanced by baking it in the oven for twenty minutes. Researchers are hoping the polyphenols in baked British rhubarb are powerful enough to stop the growth of leukemia cells so that new drugs can be developed in the fight against this deadly form of cancer.
Other Health Benefits of Rhubarb: It’s Nature’s Laxative
Chinese medicine doctors have prescribed rhubarb for their patients who are constipated for many years. Rhubarb is a good source of compounds called anthraquinones that have natural laxative properties. Rhubarb is even available in an extract and as a capsule at many health food stores to be taken as a laxative.
Good for the Heart?
Another health benefit of rhubarb? It helps to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting certain enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis. Animal studies and small human studies have both shown this to be true.
Is Rhubarb Safe?
Some people have heard that rhubarb is poisonous. This is true – but only the leaves – not the stalks. Taking rhubarb extract as a laxative or for lowering cholesterol levels does have some side effects. Rhubarb extract can interact with certain medications – particularly heart and blood pressure medications. Rhubarb is also high in oxalates which can increase the risk of kidney stones in people who are susceptible to them.
The Bottom Line
British rhubarb and the natural compounds it contains may one day help in the battle against cancer. In the meantime, rhubarb is not only a good laxative, but may help to lower cholesterol levels as well. Add a little baked rhubarb to your diet if you don’t have kidney stones, but hold off on taking rhubarb extract unless you get the okay from your doctor.