Rhubarb Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Rhubarb

Stalks of fresh rhubarb
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Rhubarb is a tart "fruit" and is usually consumed in recipes. The perennial plant is a member of the Polygonaceae family and is widely grown outside and in hot greenhouses (hothouses).

Technically rhubarb is a vegetable, although it is generally referred to as a fruit because it is used either with fruit or interchangeably with fruit in recipes. Rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb jams and even rhubarb-flavored beverages are popular uses.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (122g) of diced rhubarb.

  • Calories: 26
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.5g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Sugars: 1.3g
  • Protein: 1g

Carbs in Rhubarb

Most of the calories in rhubarb come from carbohydrate. There are over five grams of carbs in a single one-cup serving of this vegetable. Most of the carbohydrate comes from fiber. You'll benefit from 2.2 grams of fiber or nine percent of your daily recommended intake.

You'll also get 1.3 grams of naturally-occurring sugar in a cup of rhubarb. While many of us try to limit our sugar intake, sugars that occur naturally in food are better for your body than those that are added during processing (called "added sugars")  because they come packaged with other important nutrients.

There is no scientific study of the glycemic index of rhubarb. The glycemic load is based mainly on the low amount of carbohydrate and the high amount of fiber in the plant. The glycemic load of one half cup of diced rhubarb is one. The glycemic load of a single medium stalk of rhubarb (just over two ounces) is also estimated to be just one.

Fats in Rhubarb

There is almost no fat in rhubarb. The small amount of fat in this vegetable is both saturated fat (considered to be an unhealthy fat) and polyunsaturated fat (considered to be a healthy fat). You are not likely to consume enough rhubarb for the fat to have a significant impact on your daily intake.

Protein in Rhubarb

There is a small amount of protein in rhubarb. You'll gain one gram of the macronutrient if you consume a full cup.

Micronutrients in Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a good source of vitamin K, providing 45 percent of your daily needs if you consume a full cup of the vegetable. Rhubarb is also a good source of vitamin C, providing 16 percent of your daily needs per cup. 

Other vitamins in rhubarb include vitamin A (two percent of your daily needs), vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate (two percent each). There are smaller amounts of vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.

Minerals in rhubarb include potassium and calcium (ten percent each of your daily needs) and manganese (12 percent). There are smaller amounts of magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron.

Health Benefits

If you eat a lot of rhubarb, you may get a laxative effect from the fiber. For some people, this may be a health benefit. Fiber helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and may also boost heart health.  

Some people also use rhubarb medicinally to treat different conditions including:

  • High blood pressure in pregnancy
  • Cancer and cancer treatment symptoms
  • Fever
  • Inflammation
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach ulcers

However, according to the medical experts at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, there is not enough evidence to support these uses.

Common Questions

Can you eat raw rhubarb?

It was once popular to nibble on the raw stalks of rhubarb (which seemed to grow everywhere) with sprinkles of salt. Doing the same thing with sugar is common in other places. Don't eat the leaves, though, as they are poisonous.

Is rhubarb a smart low-carb food?

Rhubarb is low in carbs but it is usually consumed in recipes with a lot of sugar, so low-carbers should be wary of any rhubarb-containing dishes made for them. On the other hand, the rhubarb itself contains very little natural sugar, so it's a great choice if you can control the amount of sugar in the food.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

You can stew rhubarb to consume as a dessert. Just cook diced rhubarb with a little water. Add a little cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.  When it is soft, sweeten to taste with your favorite sugar substitute and serve with sugar-free whipped cream.

You can also pickle rhubarb. Prepare them as you would other type of pickled fruit or vegetable, such as watermelon rind pickles. Pickled rhubarb makes a tart condiment.

If you are making a rich, heavy dish, adding a little cooked minced rhubarb can add a spark.

Allergies and Interactions

Because rhubarb has a laxative effect, medical experts advise that you should not take it for more than seven days without medical supervision. Pregnant women should avoid rhubarb. Patients with hormone-sensitive cancers and those taking cytochrome P450 substrate drugs should also avoid rhubarb.

Published reports of rhubarb allergy are rare.

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