Burdock and wild rhubarb have funny-sounding names, and they've both been used as part of Chinese medicine for centuries. But the similarities pretty much end there, especially when it comes to the nutritional breakdown of burdock versus rhubarb.
While burdock is fairly high in carbohydrates, rhubarb can fit in nicely on a low-carb or keto diet. Burdock and rhubarb are both high in antioxidants, but burdock is connected to healthy blood and skin health, while rhubarb protects your digestive system, kidneys, heart and brain.
Burdock vs. Rhubarb Nutrition
If you're following a low-carb or keto diet, the nutritional differences between burdock and rhubarb are important. One hundred grams of burdock, which is about 3/4 cup of chopped pieces, has 17.3 grams of carbohydrates, while the same amount of rhubarb has only 4.5 grams.
According to the USDA, the rest of the nutritional breakdown for 100 grams of burdock looks like this:
- 72 calories
- 1.5 grams of protein
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 3.3 grams of fiber
- 2.9 grams of sugar
- 41 milligrams of calcium
- 51 milligrams of phosphorus
- 308 milligrams of potassium
If you eat 100 grams of rhubarb, you'll only take in 21 calories and 0.9 grams of protein, but you'll also get:
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 1.8 grams of fiber
- 1.1 grams of sugar
- 12 milligrams of magnesium
- 14 milligrams of phosphorus
- 288 milligrams of potassium
- 29.3 micrograms of vitamin K
Although neither burdock or rhubarb are especially high in vitamins and minerals, they're both loaded with antioxidants. According to research that was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology in September 2012, some varieties of rhubarb even have more of a specific class of antioxidants, called phenolics, than kale.
In addition to acting as powerful anti-inflammatories, phenolic compounds can also help fight infections, protect against degenerative diseases, alleviate allergies and boost the immune system, notes a report published in the International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications in October 2014.
Read more: OK, But What Are Antioxidants Really?
Herbal Medicine: Burdock vs. Rhubarb
Another similarity between burdock and rhubarb is that they're both used in some cultures as a part of Chinese and herbal medicine. Although their specific uses are different, they're still both popular choices for various conditions.
In fact, a report that was published in the journal Chinese Medicine in December 2017 calls rhubarb one of the most common and important herbs in Chinese medicine. That same report notes that rhubarb can help:
- Regulate digestive health.
- Fight off cancer.
- Protect your kidneys.
- Boost heart health.
- Protect your brain.
- Act as an anti-inflammatory.
- Fight off pathogens, like bacteria and viruses, that can cause infections.
There's not a lot of current research on the health effects of burdock, but, according to an older report that was published in October 2011 in Inflammopharmacology, it may help:
- Detoxify blood.
- Improve blood circulation.
- Improve skin quality/texture.
- Reduce severity of skin diseases, like eczema.
The same report notes that burdock also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help fight off cancer, similar to rhubarb.
According to the Utah State University Extension, you can eat burdock raw or cooked. Most parts of the plant, including the roots, the leaves and the stems, are edible. On the other hand, you can only eat the stem of the rhubarb plant (either raw or cooked). The leaves are poisonous, according to the USDA SNAP-Ed Connection.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Burdock Root, Raw"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Rhubarb, Raw"
- International Journal of Food Science and Technology: "Antioxidant Activity, Phenolic and Anthocyanin Contents of Various Rhubarb (Rheum Spp.) Varieties"
- Chinese Medicine: "Advances in Bio-Active Constituents, Pharmacology and Clinical Applications of Rhubarb"
- Inflammopharmacology: "A Review of the Pharmacological Effects of Arctium lappa (Burdock)"
- Utah State University Extension: "Burdock"
- Preventive Nutrition and Food Science: "Influence of Roasting Treatment on the Antioxidant Activities and Color of Burdock Root Tea"
- USDA SNAP-Ed Connection: "Rhubarb"
- International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications: "Phenolics in Human Health"
- The Rhubarb Compendium