Health Benefits of Edible Dandelions
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
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:
- Vitamin C
...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.
Other Wild Edibles to Try
Dandelion Greens: Nutrition
Dandelion greens are a good source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
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...
Pisse au Lit, Pissenlit
Tête de Moine
Salade de Taupe
Couronne de Moine
Pu Gong Ying
Laitue de Chien
Diente de Leon