All about the aloe

Close up of aloe vera leaves and essential oil on wooden background. Spa and beauty treatment concept with green aloe vera on wooden spoon. Fresh slices of aloe with essential oil. (Courtesy Photo)

By Taylor Sutton, MS, RD

United Supermarkets’ Lifestyle Desk

This week we are talking all about Aloe Vera! Most of us know about the benefits of using aloe vera for a sunburn, but the aloe plant actually has a lot more to offer than just burn relief!

Aloe vera has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and offers many different benefits for health. Not only can it be applied topically to the skin, but the aloe vera gel and skin can actually safely be ingested! It is rich in nutrients like antioxidant vitamins, minerals, amino acids, plant based fatty acids and polysaccharides.

However, it’s important to prepare the aloe vera leaf the right way when you are going to use it. Not sure how? We’ve got you covered with information on preparing the aloe vera for topical use or consumption, as well as a few different benefits this powerful plant has to offer!

So, how would you go about preparing you Aloe to eat?

First, grab your aloe vera leaf. If being used for consumption, it’s important to purchase an aloe leaf from the supermarket as opposed to using a household aloe vera plant. Once you have the leaf, cut off the spiky edges on the top and alongside the aloe leaf. Next, find the flat side of the skin and slice this off. Set the skin aside.

Next, after the skin from the flat side has been removed, scoop out the clear gel and dice it into cubes. Wash the gel cubes thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt or residue. Transfer the gel to a separate container for consumption or topical use.

Last, cut the skin into 3 to 4 inch sections and wash thoroughly under water to remove dirt, debris and residue. Soak the skin for about 10 minutes in water to soften it for consumption.

There are tons of benefits for using Aloe in your diet.

It can lower blood sugar — research has found that people with type 2 diabetes were able to lower their blood sugar levels after ingesting two tablespoons of aloe vera juice daily. However, if you are already taking glucose-lowering medications, you should talk to your doctor first before consuming aloe vera juice everyday, as it can potentially cause blood sugar to be too low when used in conjunction

It can be used as a natural mouthwash — Aloe vera plant naturally contains a healthy amount of vitamin C, which can block plaque buildup on your teeth. Research has actually found aloe vera extract to be an effective alternative to the chemical-based mouthwashes currently on the market! It also can provide pain relief for bleeding and/or swollen gums

It can provide relief from heartburn — Individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, may benefit from consuming aloe vera gel. It was found that the severity of symptoms from GERD were reduced when 1 to 3 ounces of aloe gel was ingested with meals, so it may be a gentle and safe method to provide heartburn relief

And, of course, it can be hydrating for dry skin — Aloe vera gel can be used topically as a face moisturizer to relieve dry, inflamed skin due to the high water content of the leaves. It’s effective at keeping the skin clear and hydrated, and is safe to use on most skin types- even sensitive skin

Wondering how to incorporate aloe vera into your lifestyle? To ingest the gel, try adding it to recipes for smoothies or salsas. The skin can be chopped and used in your favorite salad, or dipped in salsa or hummus!