It may be hard to believe, but that pesky dandelion weed that you just can’t seem to get rid of isn’t actually a weed at all. In fact, it happens to be one of the healthiest greens out there. It might be an annoyance when it comes to your lawn or garden, but dandelion greens are quite beneficial health wise. Packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, dandelion greens provide a multitude of health benefits.
Dandelion greens are a fantastic source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that our body converts into vitamin A. The greens are actually one of the richest green vegetable sources of beta-carotene, second only to kale.
Dandelion greens are also rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. And if you need vitamin K, there’s no better source than dandelion leaves. With just 55 mg of dandelion leaves you get an outstanding 535 percent of your daily value of vitamin K! They also provide B-complex vitamins, trace minerals and even contain protein.
Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are fairly rich in calcium, with roughly 10 percent of the daily recommended intake in just one cup. Paired with the antioxidants luteolin and vitamin C that fight off damaging free radicals, dandelion greens can help to protect your bones from age-related damage. Free radicals over time can cause bone frailty, weakness and decreased density.
Once again, the antioxidants luteolin and vitamin C found in dandelion greens provide the health benefits. Both these antioxidants help to keep the liver running properly while protecting it from aging. Dandelion greens have been shown to aid in the production of bile while also helping to promote healthy digestion.
Proper digestion can help reduce the chances of constipation, which can sometimes lead to more extreme gastrointestinal problems.
Dandelion greens are known for their diuretic properties. In fact, many teas that boast detoxifying properties often include dandelion as the number one ingredient because of their ability to eliminate toxic substances in the urinary tract and kidneys. The disinfectant properties of dandelion greens also help to fight infections in the urinary tract, warding off urinary infections.
The antioxidants in dandelion greens reduce the free radicals in the body, which are major cancer causing agents, thus reducing the risk of cancer. Due to dandelion greens detoxifying properties, the body is further protected from the development of tumors and various kinds of cancers. The antioxidant luteolin actually poisons cancer cells when it binds to them, rendering the cells ineffective and unable to reproduce. This has been seen mostly in prostate cancer, however more studies are currently being done to test the viability against other cancers.
Where To Find Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are a lot more common than you think. In fact, you may have eaten some in the last salad that you ordered! Dandelion greens are commonly tossed into mixed salads, but the roots and leaves also make a great tea. The root of the dandelion plant is also used to create a caffeine free coffee substitute.
When looking to purchase dandelion greens, look to your local health foods stores or farmers markets. While you may have a few spring up in your lawn during the summer months, eating those dandelions isn’t recommended due to pesticides and such that could be in the plant.
While some people do grow their own dandelion greens, you want to make sure that there are no chemicals involved so that you are not ingesting them when you harvest the greens. The healthiest option is to choose the organic greens sold at stores.
Recipes using Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens can be used in a variety of ways, but the best way to make sure that you are receiving all of the possible nutrients available is to keep the greens raw. Since people may find the taste of dandelion greens to be a bit bitter (the taste depends on the age of the greens), the best way to use the greens is in a tasty smoothie or a mixed salad.
Dandelion Greens Fruit Smoothie
- 2 big handfuls of dandelion greens
- 1 small banana
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed
- 1 cup almond milk
- handful of ice
1. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend
2. Add more ice or milk depending on desired thickness
Giant Dandelion Greens Mixed Salad
- 1 handful of dandelion greens
- 1 handful of baby spinach leaves
- 1 handful of romaine leaves, chopped
- 1/4 of a red onion, diced
- 1/2 roma tomato, chopped
- 1/3 cup olives, diced
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 2 hardboiled eggs, diced
- balsamic vinegar dressing
1. Toss together all of the greens
2. Sprinkle onion, tomato, and olives on top
3. Evenly distribute hardboiled eggs to the salad
4. Sprinkle feta cheese on top
5. Drizzled balsamic vinegar dressing over entire salad
6. Toss and serve
Though the best way to absorb all of the nutrients in dandelion greens is to eat them raw, that is by no means the only way to eat them! Dandelion greens can also be enjoyed slightly sauteed, boiled, or thrown into a soup. Get creative! The fairly neutral flavor of the greens can be paired with almost anything.