Nutrient Decline in Rhubarb


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For over a century food scientists have been examining the nutritional content of food and have observed a disturbing trend: nutrients tend to be declining. In the case of rhubarb, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin C tended to decline from 1950 to 1999 while calcium showed an increase. None of these results specific to rhubarb are statistically significant but the more general trend toward decline is. To learn more about it, read our article on nutrient decline in garden crops.

Nutrient Change for Rhubarb

In the table provided below we provide the nutritional content of rhubarb from 1950 and 1999. The 1950 measures for rhubarb are adjusted for water content so that the 1999 and 1950 values have comparable dry matter. These nutrient indicators are based on a small number of data points and none of the apparent individual changes are statistically different from one another, but as a group, they suggest a decline in nutrient content in small garden produce.

Nutrient Change In Rhubarb

Nutrient
1950*
1999
Calories
20.1
21
Protein
.63
.9
Fat
.13
.2
Carbohydrates
4.8
4.5
Ash
.88
.76
Calcium
63.9
86
Phosphorus
31.32
14
Iron
.63
.22
Vitamin A
100
Thiamin
.13
.02
Riboflavin
.03
Niacin
.13
.3
Vitamin C
11.28
8

*The 1950 data is adjusted for water content.

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The graphs used to present decline in nutritional content of garden crops on the Traditional Foods site, including change in rhubarb, can be reposted and redistributed for noncommercial use with a linked attribution to this specific page or to the article about nutrient decline : nutrient decline in garden crops.

Data Source

The historical data on the nutritional content of garden crops has been archived and made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was also analyzed by Davis, Epp, and Riordan whose work we describe on this website. We adjusted the 1950 rhubarb nutrient content so that the water content of the 1950 and 1999 samples would be comparable, as did Davis, Epp, and Riordan.

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