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Health Benefits of Edible Dandelions

Updated on April 20, 2015

Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.

Do you think of dandelions as just an annoying weed?

There’s more to this weed than meets the eye. These plants have been used for centuries both as an edible food and as a medicinal herb.

Dandelion flowers, leaves and roots can be used in drinks and as edibles in their fresh form or in a dried form.

I have to say that eating this common weed was not something I ever considered doing. Sure, I loved picking them as a tiny child and blowing on the dying flowers to watch the seeds disperse…but eating this weed? No thanks.

However, after learning more about this plant and, as part of a personal challenge to try something new and healthy each week, I decided to give these dandelions a try.

Dandelion recipes and edible options

There are a number dandelion treats and recipes floating around the internet:

  • Dandelion coffee
  • Dandelion tea
  • Dandelion fritters
  • Dandelion wine
  • Garnish in soups
  • Salad topping
  • Omelettes

...and more

I chose two simple things to try this past week as my first experiment with dandelions:

  • Dandelion Flower Tea
  • Dandelion Flowers on a Green Salad

The dandelion flower tea wasn't bad. I chose to steep dried organic dandelion flowers (purchased at my local co-op) for about 10 minutes in hot water and then added ice to make an iced tea.

The resulting brew was light on the palate and made for a nice summer tea. It will be one that I will add to my list of teas to enjoy again in the future. In the winter, it will make a wonderful hot tea. The upside to drinking it iced or hot is that dandelion tea has a number of nutritional benefits (see below).

For the salad, I just simply sprinkled the dried dandelion flowers on the top. Other than being visible and adding to the beautiful rainbow of color on my plate, I hardly knew they were there!

The biggest benefit: I like the added nutrition these flowers give. I now have both a new salad topping and a new herbal tea to add to my list of healthy options - these are both recipe "keepers".


Dandelion Flower: Nutrition

The bright yellow dandelion flowers are rich in:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron

...and other nutrients.

In the digestive tract, beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A.

The resulting Vitamin A promotes healthy vision, wound healing and it supports the immune system.

Dandelion Greens: Nutrition

Dandelion greens are a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

Dandelion greens are easy to fix. In raw form, the plant leaves are a bit bitter. That bite can be cut by sautéing:

Simply cook them with some chopped onion, minced garlic, and/or peppers and top with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

They can also be added to omelettes!


Dandelion as a Detox and a Medicinal Herb

Toxins from the environments and the food we eat accumulate in our bodies. These can lead to a number of health problems like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, chronic fatigue, premature aging, skin problems and even mental disease and depression.

Toxins can be removed from the body through urine or sweat. The removal of toxins can often be facilitated by natural agents that help the body excrete toxins - referred to as "detoxing".

Dandelion root has been commercialized as a natural detox agent. Powdered root is used in supplements, tinctures and teas. Dandelion greens have also been used for detoxification.

While this plant has been known as a medicinal herb for centuries, it should be noted that there has been little to no medical research to quantify the medicinal claims. According to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, dandelion leaves and roots are a diuretic and can act as a laxative that may help clean out the colon and remove excess body fluid. In addition to detoxification, dandelion (leaves or roots) may also help protect and support liver and gallbladder function.

NOTE: Dandelion shouldn't be used as method of detoxification unless first consulting a primary care doctor or naturopathic medical doctor.

Additional trivia: a dandelion by any other name...

Wild Endive
Taraxaci Herba
Pisse au Lit, Pissenlit
Florion d’Or
Tête de Moine
Swine Snout
Lion's Tooth
Florin d’Or
Délice Printanier
Taraxacum vulgare
Salade de Taupe
Lion's Teeth
Fausse Chicorée
Couronne de Moine
Taraxacum officinale
Pu Gong Ying
Leontodon taraxacum
Endive Sauvage
Taraxacum dens-leonis
Priest's Crown
Laitue de Chien
Pissenlit Vulgaire
Herba Taraxaci
Diente de Leon
These are addiitonal names often used to refer to dandelions. Source: MedlinePlus

Additional References:


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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Vanderleelie - the wine might be made from the flowers which are not bitter like the leaves. From my childhood, I recall that my father was going to try making dandelion wine and he had us all lined up to go pick dandelions for him (as a child we were all excited about doing that!) but then he decided shortly there after to not make it - maybe because it would have taken such a large amount of dandelion.

      I've been curious ever since as to what it tastes like!

    • profile image

      Vanderleelie 5 years ago

      Dandelion wine sounds intriguing - I wonder if the bitter taste is softened or made more palatable when the brew ferments? This hub inspires a weed harvest before mowing the lawn!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Mama Kim 8 - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found this educational!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Wow, I knew they were edible, but I didn't know the health benefits ^_^ thanks for the great information! Voted up!!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @fpherj48 - thanks, that sounds pretty easy, I'll have to give it a try!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kris.....Just boil the greens quickly....not for long!......Mix them in a bowl with some flour (or pancake mix) an egg or 2 (depending on the portion size.....salt, pepper, (onion and/or garlic powder if you like it)....Making a batter consistent to pancakes........Pour onto a HOT, lightly oiled skillet (just like pancakes) and brown nicely on both side!! That's it!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @fpherj48 - the dandelion pancakes sound interesting! I may have try the greens in a salad too.

      @jennzie - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found this article informative!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I didn't realize all the ways that you could eat (or drink) dandelions, nor all of the health benefits that they can provide. Informative and interesting hub, voted up!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Great hub, Kris!! Yes, Dandelion sure is healthy....and prepared properly, also delicious. Grew up eating dandelion (the green leaves) raw in salads and cooked into a type of pancake.....Never have used the flower, but I may check that out.

      I have some dandelion tea in the cupboard right now....Terrific diuretic!

      Thanks for putting this info out there for everyone's benefit!! UP+++

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Pamela99 and healthylife2: I had never thought of them as edible either until a naturopathy doctor mentioned it to me a few years ago. It's funny, after that I finally started noticing the dandelion greens being sold at our international food mart and the dried flowers at our co-op. All these years, they were right under my nose at the market and I had missed seeing them!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very informative. I would never have considered eating the dandelion. Looks like this is one more easy way to detox. Voted up!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      I have heard of dandelion tea but I have never really thought of them as edible, let alone healthy. This is an interesting hub and I'm galad to have learned something new.