Aloe vera is a magical gift of nature that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. According to contemporary studies, the plant possesses health benefits ranging from the effective treatment of burns and prevention of dental plaque to lowering blood sugar levels and soothing digestive irritations.
Some studies credit it with having anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, and with strengthening the immune system in general. This succulent is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands, but today it’s grown and enjoyed in tropical climates around the world.
You’ll likely have seen it in many different forms: in skin care products, in capsules in health food stores, and in green grocers and Asian supermarkets in its natural form, sold by the piece or leaf.
Aloe vera leaves are composed of three parts: the skin, the gel, and the latex. The latex comes with a warning—it’s unpleasantly bitter, and is actually toxic (see note below). But fear not, with some careful preparation, you can enjoy aloe vera and its health benefits.
One large piece of edible, fresh aloe vera leaf
One large mango (not too soft)
One half lemon
To prepare the aloe vera:
Purchase your aloe vera from a trusted grocer and make sure you’re buying an edible aloe vera leaf. Start by washing the skin thoroughly. Then follow the steps below.
1. Cut off the base of the leaf where it would have attached to the plant. If there’s a bad smell, then you have a spoiled leaf, so discard and start again with a fresh one.
2. Cut off the spiky edges (or teeth) on the sides of the leaf, and cut it into sections to more easily facilitate removing the latex.
3. Soak in cool clean water for 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll notice the water has taken on a yellow tinge—this is the latex.
4. Remove the aloe and place in a second clean container of cool water, soaking for another 10 minutes. Remove aloe and pat dry.
5. Cut the skin off the sections of aloe with a knife. Be careful because the inner gel is slippery. Be sure to remove all of the green outer skin.
1. Cut the aloe gel into bite-sized cubes. Cut the mango into similar-sized cubes. Combine the aloe, mango, and juice of the mango in a bowl.
2. Juice the half lemon (remove seeds) and pour over the fruit, mixing gently.
3. Add honey and mix. Taste before adding the honey, as the sweetness of mangos can vary considerably.
4. Put the dessert in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.The aloe meat is almost tasteless, but it has the wonderful ability to absorb flavours.
Because aloe is a flavour sponge, have some fun and try other fruits: oranges, dragon fruit, pineapple, berries, and melon are particularly nice.
The latex in aloe vera is a thin layer of yellow liquid between the skin and the gel or meat of the leaf. It contains compounds with powerful laxative properties, so soaking is a key step.
Aloe is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children under the age of 5, or people with low blood pressure.
If you have any adverse reactions, call a physician.