Can You Eat Aloe Vera?

Most people are familiar with aloe vera gel, as it is a common natural product used to relieve rashes and sunburns. The leaves of aloe vera plants produce this gel, which carries the most health benefits from the plant.

Applying this gel to your skin is certainly one way of using it, but what many people don’t know is that you can actually eat aloe vera gel too! 

Of course, you will have to follow some steps to prepare it right. In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of eating aloe vera as well as the risks and teach you how to add this yummy ingredient to your daily meals.

Used in traditional medicines for over a thousand years, aloe vera has numerous health benefits that are well documented. In addition to fighting sunburns, it can also be used for fighting dental plaque and lowering blood sugar levels.

So what makes aloe vera so good for you? Well, it’s full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids, and polysaccharides. All these beneficial compounds have been linked to numerous positive health effects.

For example, eating aloe vera gel is known to reduce blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity (1). This means that it can aid in weight loss as it helps control appetite.

Eating aloe vera gel has also been linked to suppressing inflammation, boosting memory, combating depression, and reducing dental plaque buildup at a level equivalent to mouthwash (1,2).

Plus, aloe vera is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against the damage free radicals do and have been linked with protecting against various chronic conditions. These conditions include diabetes, coronary heart disease, dementia and some forms of cancer (3).

Preparing aloe vera gel is easy! All you have to do is cut the spiky edges on the top and alongside the aloe vera leaves. Then, slice the skin on the flat side off and remove the gel before cutting it into cubes. 

These aloe vera gel cubes need to be washed thoroughly before consumption as otherwise, a latex residue may remain. This residue is bitter in taste and can cause laxative effects. Too much of the latex residue can cause dangerous side effects (4).

The skin of aloe vera is perfectly safe to eat too! While it does not have a strong taste, it makes a delightful accompaniment to a summer salad. It can also be used to garnish hummus.

To prepare the aloe vera skin, soak it in water for 10-20 minutes after removing it from the leaf. Make sure to wash it thoroughly first to remove all the latex residue. 

The only risks involved in eating aloe vera are accidentally consuming the latex residue or eating aloe from a different plant in the same family. However, these risks can be easily avoided by correctly identifying aloe vera plants and washing them thoroughly before consumption. Additionally, those on kidney, heart or diabetes medication should refrain from eating aloe vera gel (4).

Overall, aloe vera is a delicious and healthy ingredient that’s certainly great to eat!

References:

  1. Hęś, M., Dziedzic, K., Górecka, D., Jędrusek-Golińska, A., & Gujska, E. (2019). Aloe vera (L.) Webb.: Natural Sources of Antioxidants – A Review. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands)74(3), 255–265. doi:10.1007/s11130-019-00747-5
  2. Mangaiyarkarasi, S. P., Manigandan, T., Elumalai, M., Cholan, P. K., & Kaur, R. P. (2015). Benefits of Aloe vera in dentistry. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences7(Suppl 1), S255–S259. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.155943
  3. Salehi, B., Albayrak, S., Antolak, H., Kręgiel, D., Pawlikowska, E., Sharifi-Rad, M., … Sharifi-Rad, J. (2018). Aloe Genus Plants: From Farm to Food Applications and Phytopharmacotherapy. International journal of molecular sciences19(9), 2843. doi:10.3390/ijms19092843
  4. Guo, X., & Mei, N. (2016). Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. Journal of environmental science and health. Part C, Environmental carcinogenesis & ecotoxicology reviews34(2), 77–96. doi:10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826