Dandelions are more than an ugly weed in your front yard. These common yellow-flowered plants possess amazing health benefits, especially in their leaves. Not only are their broad leaves edible, but dandelion greens also boost your health in several ways.
The ancient Egyptians knew about dandelions. So did the Romans and Greeks, according to literature. They’ve been used in Chinese medicines for centuries. Dandelions probably arrived in America with the Pilgrims, who brought them along for medicinal purposes. They’re native to Europe but grow all over the Northern Hemisphere. This plant has been in traditional medicines for centuries for many ailments. Dandelions can be used in soup recipes, wines, teas, and as a coffee substitute.
Eating dandelion greens health benefits for your body
Here are eight healthy reasons to try eating dandelion greens.
Dandelion greens are packed with antioxidants that help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that affect your body. They’re a great source of vitamins C, K, and A. They also contain folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
2 – Healthy diuretic
Diuretics help increase the production of urine. They help reduce swelling. The downside of prescription diuretic is that it can eliminate electrolytes and water that your body needs. Dandelion greens have a diuretic effect, which could be due to the abundant amount of potassium that acts as a diuretic without eliminating healthy electrolytes.
3 – Fights Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection or UTI is an infection somewhere in our urinary tract system, including your bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys. Women are susceptible than men to urinary tract infections, and it’s normal to have repeated to have many UTIs throughout your life. Symptoms of a UTI include:
- Burning when you pee
- Frequent urination
- Cloudy urine
- Smelly urine
- Pain in your back
Dandelion greens can be made into a strong tea that promotes urination and reduces inflammation, helping heal a urinary tract infection.
4 – Helps control diabetes
Diabetes is a growing health problem around the world. It’s thought that approximately 382 million people have type 2 diabetes. Plant-based medicines like dandelion greens can help control type 2 diabetes. If you suffer from this disease, you know how hard it is to control. You need to constantly manage what you eat, when you eat and when you eat. Studies found that dandelion greens could significantly help people manage this disease due to their anti-hyperglycemic and anti-oxidative properties.
5 – Protects your digestive system
Studies found that dandelion greens contain anti-inflammatory properties that protect against hormone-induced stress that can cause pancreatitis and other digestive problems. Because of this, dandelion greens have been used to cure gallbladder and liver disorders.
6 – Helps your body fight off diseases
Studies found that out of all plants, dandelions are the greatest source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene contains anti-oxidative properties that help your body balance the free radicals in your body. Free radicals react easily with molecules in your body, causing chemical chain reactions called oxidation or oxidative stress. Although oxidation is normal in your body, if your body is in oxidative stress, it means there are more free radicals than your body can cope with, the damage could occur. If this continues over time, it could lead to diseases such as
- Inflammatory conditions like IBS, allergies, autoimmune diseases
- High blood pressure
- Heart diseases
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Some types of cancers
7 – May lower your cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy- like substance that’s produced by your liver. Your body needs cholesterol to produce hormones and help your body digest fatty foods. Your body produces enough cholesterol to function independently, so you should eat as little as possible. When you eat foods high in cholesterol, the cholesterol builds up in your arteries, clogging them to the point of blocking the blood flow. Dietary cholesterol is found in foods like high-fat meats, dairy, and eggs. Dandelion greens, studies found, can lower your risk of having atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. This, in turn, reduces your risk of coronary artery diseases like
- Heart disease
- Aortic Aneurysm
- High blood pressure
Besides eating dandelion greens, you can prevent high cholesterol by eating foods low in saturated and trans fat, sodium, and sugar. Choose foods like
- Fatty fish like salmon
- Lean meats like poultry
- Low-fat cheeses and yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Foods high in fiber like oats, whole grains, beans
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
8 – Helps to support better bone health
Dandelion greens are rich in vitamin K, a major nutrient for building strong bones. Not having enough vitamin K in your body puts you at greater risk for hip fractures. Dandelion greens also contain calcium, but unlike other greens such as chard or spinach, dandelion greens are low in oxalic acid, which interferes with your body’s ability to incorporate the calcium properly.
Where should you get your dandelion greens?
Be sure that you gather them from areas that haven’t been fertilized or sprayed with pesticides when you harvest dandelion greens. It’s usually not a good idea to pick them in areas where animals wander around to do their business. Some people suggest you grow your own dandelions just like any other plant in your garden. You can buy seeds online or at garden nurseries. Be sure to always wash the dandelion greens completely before eating them.
Dandelion greens have a bitter flavor. You can cut the bitterness by blanching the dandelion greens before you use them in recipes. Simply boil water and throw your greens into the water for a minute or two. Remove them from the boiling water and put them into a bowl of ice water. This stops the blanching process. Dry off the leaves on a paper towel. They’re ready to eat or use in recipes.
Super simple dandelion salad
Choose young dandelion greens because the older leaves taste bitter. Toss the dandelion greens with an assortment of other salad greens you normally use.
Sauteed dandelion greens
- 1 to 2 cups blanched dandelion greens
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- One small yellow onion, chopped fine
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
In a skillet, add 1-2 tablespoon olive oil, chopped garlic, and chopped onions. Saute the chopped garlic and onions until they’re translucent. Add 1 tablespoon to the skillet, then add the blanched dandelion greens. Saute for one or two minutes until tender.
Dandelion green and pine nut pesto
- 2-3 cups of dandelion greens
- ¼ to ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- one-fourth cup of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dash of dried chili peppers
In a processor, blend the dandelion greens, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dried chili pepper until mixed. If it’s too thick, you can add more olive oil, a little bit at a time. Keep the dandelion green pesto in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
The dandelion is a world-famous little weed that goes back centuries. There are so many interesting things about these hardy weeds. Here are some of the most interesting dandelion trivia for you to know.
1 – Dandelions have been the inspiration for many poets.
Some of the most famous poems about dandelions include:
- The First Dandelion by Walt Whitman
- To the Dandelion by James Russell Lowell
- The Dandelion by Rachel Lindsay
2 – Dandelions got their name from their leaves that look like jagged lion teeth.
Take a look the next time you see one. You’ll be surprised how you never noticed!
3 – Dandelion greens are delicious–and the plant is so hardy
The hardy little weeds can grow almost anywhere. They grow quickly, sometimes going from a seed to a bud within a few days. One plant can live for years, especially if it takes root hidden in a corner somewhere where no one sees it. The roots go deeper and deeper, year after year. If the plant gets cut, the root will divide, making an entirely new plant. Dandelions have been known to grow through cracks in concrete, around rocks, or in between patio slate. Dandelions have been made into all kinds of food and drink, including dandelion:
- Ice cream
Dandelion greens are little nutritious gems that grow right in your yard. Packed with vitamins and minerals, these greens help fight diabetes, lower your cholesterol, boost your beta-carotene, and can help your digestive system. Whether you choose to saute them, make tea, or whip up some dandelion green pesto, always harvest your dandelion greens in a pesticide-free area where wild animals aren’t roaming around.
Pick the greens from fields, forests, or parks, because there’s no shortage of dandelion greens in the spring and summer. Be sure to blanch the older leaves to eliminate the bitter flavor, or gather younger leaves that taste less bitter. Good chance, dandelions will always be around. They’ve already made it for centuries. It’s good to know that the hardy dandelion greens will be around to help you stay healthy for years to come.