Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegetable Of The Week - Rhubarb

Vegetable History: 
Rhubarb, botanically-known as Rheum rhabarbarum, comes from a combination of the Greek word Rha for the Volga River, and the Latin word barbarum, for the region of the Rha River inhabited by non-Romans. The popular edible species, Rheum rhaponticum, originated most likely in Mongolia or Siberia. It was introduced to Europe by Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus in 1608 as a substitute for Chinese Rhubarb whose roots were used medicinally. 

Ben Franklin is credited for bringing rhubarb seeds to the North American east coast in 1772, yet the red stalks did not catch on until the early 1800s, when it became a popular ingredient for pie. In the late 1800's, rhubarb was brought to Alaska by the Russians and used as an effective counter-agent for scurvy. By the mid-1900s, its popularity was firmly entrenched in the New England states where it was used as pastry and pie fillings and also to make homemade wine. 

The term rhubarb has also come to mean a "quarrel" or "heated discussion." This comes from theatrical direction, believe it or not. Stage and movie directors would have actors repeat "rhubarb" and various other phrases over and over to simulate background conversations or mutterings of a surly crowd. -  Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

Fruit History: 
Red color stalks contain more vitamin-A than green varieties. Further, the stalks also contain small amounts of poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like ß-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. These compounds convert to vitamin A inside the body and deliver same protective effects of vitamin A on the body. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for vision. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A helps body protect against lung and oral cavity cancers. - Nutrition & You

One cup of rhubarb supplies 105 mg of calcium, which is about 10 percent of the 1,000 mg of calcium average adults need in their daily diet. - Livestrong

Researchers found that low doses of rhubarb prevented hypertension developed during pregnancy. Rhubarb (140 cases) or placebo (125 cases) was given to women at risk of hypertension consecutively from the 28th week of gestation till delivery, and another 68 pregnant women as control. Results showed that 5.7% of rhubarb treated women developed hypertension, a rate substantially lower than the 20.8% of the placebo group. - Low-dose of processed rhubarb in preventing pregnancy induced hypertension

In the investigation of the toxicological and anti-neoplastic potentials of the main anthraquinones from Rhubarb, Rheum palmatum, found that Rhein is the other major rhubarb anthraquinone, although less well studied. This compound could effectively inhibit the uptake of glucose in tumor cells, caused changes in membrane-associated functions and led to cell death. Interestingly, all three major rhubarb anthraquinones were reported to have in vitro phototoxic. This re-evaluation of an old remedy suggests that several bioactive anthraquinones of rhubarb possess promising anti-cancer properties and could have a broad therapeutic potential - Anti-cancer properties of anthraquinones from rhubarb

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

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