Aloe Vera is often called the “plant of immortality” because it can live and bloom without soil.
It is a member of the Liliaceae family, along with more than 400 other species of aloe.
Aloe vera has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, and studies have linked it to various health benefits as well. For example, the plant is used to treat sunburns, fight dental plaque and lower blood sugar levels.
In addition, aloe Vera is rich in nutrients with more than 75 potentially active compounds, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids and polysaccharides (1).
However, you may wonder whether the plant is safe for consumption.
This article tells you whether you can eat aloe Vera — and whether you should.
Aloe vera leaves are comprised of three parts: the skin, the gel and the latex. They’re best known for their gel, which is responsible for most of its health benefits (1).
While most people apply the gel to their skin, it’s also safe to eat when prepared right.
Aloe vera gel has a clean, refreshing taste and can be added to a variety of recipes, including smoothies and salsas.
To prepare the gel, cut off the spiky edges on the top and alongside the aloe vera leaf. Next, slice off the skin on the flat side, remove the clear gel and dice it into small cubes.
Make sure to wash the gel cubes thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt, debris and residue. Latex residue can give the gel an unpleasant bitter taste.
The latex is a thin layer of yellow liquid between the skin and the gel of the leaf. It contains compounds with powerful laxative properties, such as aloin (2).
Eating too much latex can have serious and potentially fatal side effects (3).
In contrast, the aloe vera skin is generally safe to eat. It has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, perfect for adding variety to your summer salads. Alternatively, the skin can be enjoyed by dipping it in salsa or hummus.
To prepare the skin, cut off the spiky edges on the top and alongside the plant and slice off the skin on the flat side. Make sure to wash the skin thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris and latex.
You can soak it in water for 10–20 minutes before eating it if you find it too tough to chew.
It’s very important to choose leaves from the aloe vera plant and not from other aloe species, as these may be poisonous and therefore unfit for human consumption.