Last Updated on March 23, 2023 by Claire
Aloe vera, often called the “wonder plant”, is a plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. But can you eat aloe vera? Although commonly known for its almost “divine” ability to heal burns and wounds, not many people know that it can be consumed — you can. Nevertheless, there are a few caveats you must keep in mind before going ahead.
Aloe vera is not just a pretty face or a topical application, it can also be eaten as it has many nutritional benefits to the human body.
Can you eat aloe vera?
Although you can eat aloe vera, it’s worth noting that not all parts and species of this plant are safe for consumption in their natural form.
Read on to find out which parts and species are fit for consumption and which you should totally flee from unless properly prepared.
Fine, we can eat it but is aloe vera safe to eat?
The aloe vera barbadensis miller is the specie of this plant that is fit for consumption, whereas the aloe vera var. chinensis plant is not.
While the aloe vera barbadensis miller species is generally safe to eat, the only part that should be consumed is the gel-like substance found in the leaves.
The yellow liquid found beneath the skin of the leaves, called latex, is toxic in nature and should not be ingested.
According to the Mayo Clinic, aloe latex or whole-leaf extract (the yellow liquid) taken orally in high doses is likely unsafe. Just 1 gram a day of aloe latex for several days can lead to acute kidney failure and can be fatal.
Lastly, you must also remember that you should only consume small amounts of aloe vera, as consumption in large amounts can lead to digestive problems.
Nonetheless, there are still a few things you need to read about before you start ‘chowing down’ on any aloe vera you see around.
Can you eat aloe vera leaves?
Did you know that aloe vera leaves are made up of three different parts? These include the skin, gel, and latex, each with its own unique properties.
Although it’s been previously mentioned that the only part of the aloe vera plant that is safe for consumption is the “gel”, I took some quality time to do some research on it. And trust me you wouldn’t believe what I found after some digging.
Most people are familiar with the gel, which is responsible for most of aloe vera’s health benefits. This clear, refreshing substance can be applied topically to the skin, and can also be eaten or added to your favorite recipes when properly prepared.
If you feel like trying something new, then you can add aloe vera gel to a variety of recipes, including smoothies and salsas.
1. Aloe vera gel
To prepare the gel, start by cutting off the spiky edges on the top and sides of the leaf. Then, slice off the skin on the flat side, remove the clear gel, and dice it into small cubes.
And please, for the love of all that is good and holy, make sure you wash those cubes thoroughly to avoid any unwanted dirt, debris, or latex residue. It would be wise to avoid the bitter aftertaste.
2. Aloe vera latex
Speaking of latex, this is the thin yellow liquid between the skin and the gel that contains powerful laxative properties.
While small amounts of latex are generally safe to consume, eating too much can have serious and potentially fatal side effects.
So, it’s best to stick with the gel and skin when incorporating aloe vera into your diet.
3. Aloe vera skin
Believe it or not, the skin of the aloe vera leaf is also safe to eat and has a mild flavor and crunchy texture that’s perfect for adding some variety to your summer salads. You can even dip it in salsa or hummus for a tasty snack!
To prepare the skin, simply cut off the spiky edges on the top and sides of the plant and slice off the skin on the flat side. Just like with the gel, make sure to wash the skin thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, or latex residue. If the skin is too tough to chew, you can soak it in water for 10-20 minutes before eating.
A word of caution: make sure you’re only eating leaves from the aloe vera plant and not from other aloe species. Some of those ‘cretins’ can be poisonous and unsafe for human consumption.
Read also: even radish leaves are edible
How nutritious is aloe vera?
Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents, including:
- salicylic acids
- amino acids (from Aloe Vera: a Short Review in the Indian Journal of Dermatology)
Aloe vera is rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for our bodies. It contains vitamins A, C, E, and B12, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Not forgetting the fact that aloe vera is also a great source of antioxidants, which help to protect our body from harmful free radicals.
How to eat aloe vera
Now that you know aloe vera is safe to eat, the next question is how to eat it.
Well, the good news is that you have options.
You can munch on the gel-like substance as is, blend it into smoothies, or combine it with other ingredients to whip up some tasty dishes. And if you’re feeling really fancy, you can even sip on some aloe vera juice which is a pretty popular way of aloe vera consumption.
Just remember that aloe vera should be consumed in moderation, as consuming too much can leave your digestive system feeling like a rollercoaster ride.
Here are some delicious and easy recipes that use aloe vera as an ingredient:
1. Aloe vera smoothie
Blend aloe vera gel with frozen berries, bananas, and almond milk. Pour into a bowl and top with granola, sliced fruit, and honey for a nutritious smoothie.
2. Aloe vera salsa
Mix aloe vera gel with diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice for a refreshing salsa.
3. Aloe vera salad dressing
Blend aloe vera gel with olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and garlic for a zesty salad dressing.
4. Aloe vera salad
Mix aloe vera gel with sliced cucumbers, juicy cherry tomatoes, and crisp lettuce.
5. Aloe vera lemonade
Jazz up your regular lemonade by mixing in some aloe vera juice, honey, and water.
Health benefits of eating aloe vera
Eating aloe vera has the following health benefits:
Promotes digestive health
One of the most well-known benefits of aloe vera is its ability to promote digestive health.
This is largely attributed to its polysaccharide compounds that work to stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria, while also reducing inflammation in the digestive tract.
Furthermore, aloe vera contains enzymes that help break down food, making digestion more efficient and less stressful on the gut.
Another potential benefit of consuming aloe vera is its ability to boost the immune system.
Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants, which help to protect the body from harmful free radicals that can damage cells and weaken the immune system.
By including aloe vera in your diet, you may be able to give your immune system an added boost, keeping you healthy and protecting you from harmful toxins and pathogens.
Aloe vera is well-known for its skin-soothing properties. The plant contains a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy skin.
These nutrients work together to promote collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and reduce inflammation. All of these are highly desirable characteristics when it comes to building healthy, radiant skin.
Regulates blood sugar
Consuming aloe vera can help regulate blood sugar levels, especially for those with type-2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
This is due to its glucomannan compounds that function as dietary fibers, slowing down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, and preventing spikes in blood sugar levels.
Lastly, aloe vera has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties due to its anthraquinones compounds. Chronic inflammation has been linked to several health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
By simply consuming aloe vera, you can reduce inflammation in your body and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases.
Dangers of eating aloe vera
While aloe vera is often touted for its numerous health benefits, there are also potential risks associated with eating excessive amounts.
Here are some of the potential dangers of eating aloe vera:
Has a laxative effect on the body
Aloe vera contains a compound called aloin, which has a laxative effect on the body.
Consuming too much aloin can lead to diarrhea, cramping, and dehydration. In severe cases, it can even lead to electrolyte imbalances and kidney damage.
Therefore, it’s absolutely vital to make sure aloe vera is consumed in moderation and only in small amounts.
As with any other plant or food, some people may be allergic to aloe vera.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may range from mild to severe and can include hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Can interfere with your medications
Aloe vera can interact with certain medications such as diabetes medications and laxatives. It can also interfere with the absorption of some medications, reducing their effectiveness. If you are taking any medication, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before you start “chowing down” on aloe vera.
As previously mentioned, excessive consumption of aloe vera can have toxic effects.
This is especially true for children and pets, who may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of aloe vera.
Symptoms of toxicity may include vomiting, abdominal pain, and changes in urine color.
Therefore, if you suspect that you or someone you know has consumed too much aloe vera, then it’s best you seek medical help immediately.
Which aloe vera is edible?
The aloe vera barbadensis miller plant is fit for consumption, whereas the aloe vera var. chinensis plant is not.
Which aloe vera is not poisonous?
Aloe vera barbadensis miller is a non-poisonous and safe to eat species of aloe vera that is commonly used in various health and cosmetic products.
What happens if you eat fresh aloe vera?
Nothing untoward will happen since consuming fresh aloe vera gel in small quantities is generally safe for most people. eating in large amounts, especially the green outer leaf part which contains aloin, can is harmful.
Final thoughts—can you eat aloe vera?
So, can you eat aloe vera? Yes! Aloe vera is not just a plant for external use, but it can also be consumed for its nutritional benefits.
It’s important to note that aloe vera is only beneficial to the body when consumed in moderation, thus excessive consumption should be avoided as it can lead to digestive issues.
With the recipes provided, you can enjoy the benefits of aloe vera in a variety of delicious and healthy ways.