Is it safe to eat Raw rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a staple in many households, with its tangy taste and bright red stalks making it a favorite for pies, jams, and other recipes. However, questions have often been raised about whether raw rhubarb is safe to eat.

In this post, we will explore if it is safe to eat raw rhubarb and what precautions you should take.

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a perennial plant that is native to Asia and Europe. It was first used as a medicinal herb in China more than 2,000 years ago before being introduced to the West in the 18th century.

Rhubarb plants have a bright red stalk and large green leaves. The stalks are the edible part of the plant, and they have a tangy taste that is often compared to lemon. Rhubarb is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

Is Raw Rhubarb Safe to Eat?

Yes, it is safe to eat raw rhubarb, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should never be eaten. The leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can be deadly if ingested.

However, the stalks of the rhubarb plant are safe to eat both raw and cooked. The stalks contain lower levels of oxalic acid than the leaves, and cooking the stalks will further reduce the acid levels.

Benefits of Eating Raw Rhubarb

Eating raw rhubarb has several health benefits. Rhubarb is low in calories and high in fiber, making it an excellent food for weight loss. It also contains vitamins C and K, calcium, and potassium, helping to boost your immune system, maintain healthy bones, and regulate blood pressure.

Rhubarb is also an excellent source of antioxidants, which are molecules that fight cell damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Precautions when Eating Raw Rhubarb

When eating raw rhubarb, there are some precautions you should take:

1. Only eat the stalks: As mentioned earlier, never eat the rhubarb leaves as they contain a high concentration of oxalic acid.

2. Moderation: While rhubarb is a healthy food, like any other food, it should be consumed in moderation. Eating too much of it can cause gastrointestinal distress and other health problems.

3. Cleaning thoroughly: Make sure to clean your rhubarb stalks thoroughly before eating them. This will help to remove any dirt, debris, or pesticides that may be on the stalks.

Cooking Rhubarb

While it is safe to eat raw rhubarb, cooking it is the best way to reduce the levels of oxalic acid. Cooking breaks down the acid, making it easier to digest and reducing the risk of kidney stones.

To cook rhubarb, first, wash and trim the stalks. Then, cut them into small pieces and simmer them in water or fruit juice until they are soft.


In conclusion, raw rhubarb is safe to eat, but you should avoid eating the leaves. Raw rhubarb has many health benefits, including being high in fiber and antioxidants. However, moderation is key, and cleaning the stalks thoroughly is essential. Cooking rhubarb can help to reduce the levels of oxalic acid and make it easier to digest.

So, go ahead and add some raw or cooked rhubarb to your diet and enjoy its tangy flavor and health benefits!

External Link:


What part of rhubarb can you eat raw?

Rhubarb is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be consumed in a variety of ways. However, it is important to note that only a specific part of the plant is edible. The only part of the rhubarb plant that can be safely consumed raw or cooked is the stalk. The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it is essential to remove and discard the leaves before consuming rhubarb.

Rhubarb stalks are a good source of several nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. They also contain antioxidants such as lycopene and anthocyanins, which are believed to have numerous health benefits. The tart flavor of rhubarb makes it an excellent ingredient in a variety of dishes, particularly desserts.

While it’s not commonly eaten raw, rhubarb can be consumed this way, especially if it’s young, tender, and freshly picked. Raw rhubarb is tart, crunchy, and slightly acidic in flavor, and it can be a tasty addition to salads, smoothies, and juices. When consuming raw rhubarb, it is essential to wash it thoroughly before cutting and removing the ends, as this will ensure that any dirt or debris is removed.

The only part of the rhubarb plant you can eat raw or cooked is the stalk, as the leaves are not safe to consume. Rhubarb stalks are full of health benefits, and their tart flavor makes them an excellent addition to a variety of dishes, including desserts. If you’re going to consume raw rhubarb, ensure that you wash it thoroughly first and remove the ends.

When shouldn’t you eat rhubarb?

While rhubarb is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes, there are certain situations when you should avoid eating it. One of the main concerns with rhubarb is its toxicity. Specifically, the leaves of the rhubarb plant contain oxalic acid, which can be harmful when ingested in large amounts. Oxalic acid can cause a range of symptoms in people, including nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even kidney damage.

While it is possible to remove the oxalic acid from rhubarb leaves through cooking or soaking, it is generally recommended that you avoid eating the leaves altogether. Instead, focus on using the stalks, which are safe to eat and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Another factor to consider when eating rhubarb is the harvesting season. Rhubarb is most commonly harvested in the spring and early summer, and is typically at its peak from April through June. However, if you notice that your rhubarb has been exposed to freezing temperatures, it may not be safe to eat. Freezing can damage the leaves and cause the stalks to become limp and have a poor texture and flavor. If this happens, it is best to discard the rhubarb and wait for a new crop to become available.

In general, if you are unsure about the safety of your rhubarb, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid eating it. When in doubt, consult with a healthcare professional or an expert in horticulture to ensure that you are consuming rhubarb safely. With proper care and preparation, rhubarb can be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet.

What are the side effects of eating too much rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a vegetable commonly used in pies, as a condiment and in desserts. However, excessive consumption of rhubarb may cause certain side effects that you need to be aware of. The edible portion of the plant is the stalk, which is the fleshy stem at the base of the plant. Rhubarb leaves are not fit for human consumption and are considered toxic due to the presence of oxalic acid. Eating too much of the leaves can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and even death due to oxalic acid poisoning.

When it comes to the stalks, consuming large amounts of rhubarb can result in digestive discomfort. Rhubarb is rich in fiber, and consuming excessive amounts of fiber can make stool loose and watery, leading to diarrhea. Additionally, rhubarb is high in tannins which can cause abdominal cramps if consumed in large amounts.

Another significant effect of consuming excess rhubarb is its potential to lower blood levels of calcium and potassium. Rhubarb is high in oxalic acid, which binds to minerals in the body, leading to reduced absorption and excretion of calcium and potassium. This, in turn, can lead to mineral imbalances in the body which can have serious health consequences.

Furthermore, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to rhubarb. If you are allergic to other fruits and vegetables, or you have a history of allergic reactions, you may be at increased risk of an allergic reaction to rhubarb. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching, hives, swelling of the face, throat, and tongue, and difficulty breathing.

While rhubarb is a tasty and nutritious vegetable, overconsumption may lead to shortcomings. Possible side effects include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and mineral imbalances. It is advisable to consume rhubarb stalks in moderation to reap the nutritional benefits without the negative consequences. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid consuming rhubarb leaves, which are toxic and could lead to severe health problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *