Stewing These Stalks Delivers More Nutrition

Why cooking rhubarb the right way can pack a healthier punch.

Stewing These Stalks Delivers More Nutrition

It's an herb, a perennial and a popular pie filling—and it's better for you when you bake or stew it. We're talking about rhubarb. 

Turns out those colorful red stalks are rich in 40 different kinds of disease-fighting antioxidants. And their antioxidant capacity actually increases if you bake or stew this seasonal plant. 

How heat helps 
In a study, baking fresh rhubarb for 20 minutes (at 356 degrees Fahrenheit) or slowly stewing the stuff for 30 minutes on low heat (176 degrees Fahrenheit) did more to increase its antioxidant capacity than blanching or quickly stewing did. That's good news for rhubarb lovers, because baking and stewing are common methods for preparing rhubarb. Even better, the polyphenol antioxidants in rhubarb are thought to inhibit a host of diseases, from diabetes to cancer to heart disease. 

Damage undone 
It's not entirely clear why cooking rhubarb using these methods makes it even more nutritious. But the researchers note that although nutrients are both released and broken down during cooking, the nutrient breakdown likely happens less with slow cooking methods such as baking. And rhubarb's not the only treat that benefits from special prep

Medically reviewed in April 2019. Updated in March 2021. 

More On Healthy Foods & Cooking

The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Growing Your Own Groceries

article

The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Growing Your Own Groceries
You’d think finding fresh produce in a tropical island paradise would be cheap and easy. But with the majority of Hawaii’s produce being shipped in, g...
How to Enjoy Avocados—Without the Injury

article

How to Enjoy Avocados—Without the Injury
Former “Bachelorette” star and bestselling author Andi Dorfman is used to the spotlight. But recently she made headlines for a very different reason. ...
Shave 200 Calories a Day with This Swap

article

Shave 200 Calories a Day with This Swap
To shave 200 calories from each day -- without missing a thing -- put your blender to work. Then, use pureed vegetables in place of higher-calorie in...
8 Tricks for Healthier Chili

slideshow

8 Tricks for Healthier Chili
Craving comfort food? Here’s how to make sure your favorite winter stew won’t weigh you down. Cold winter months by the fire are even better with a wa...