The Health Benefits of Dandelion
The health and medicinal benefits of dandelion are many, not to mention its nutritive value.
Over the years I have learned to appreciate this common lawn pest. In fact, now when I see them spring up on my lawn, I welcome the sight. This “weed” is one of the most nutritious wild edible foods you could forage. Beyond its culinary uses, it has many medicinal uses as well.
- Sesquiterpene lactones
- Vitamins A, B, C, and D
- Minerals (especially Potassium)
- Phenolic acids
- Minerals (potassium, calcium)
Dandelion is undeniably the unsung hero of the plant world. Often overlooked or dismissed as a weed, the sunny dandelion manages to rise above stereotypes to be one of the great medicinal plants in Traditional European Herbalism. Its natural resilience and ability to transform make it the ideal herb for gently stimulating the liver, supporting the kidneys and promoting healthy digestion in general.
Given the impact of digestion on overall health, herbalists would argue that there are few herbs ti rival the benefits of dandelion in maintaining everyday wellness. The benefits of dandelion should not be ignored.
Nutritional Value of Dandelions
Dandelions are some of the most nutritionally dense greens you can eat. They are far more nutritious than kale or spinach. … The greens are also a good source of Vitamins C, A, and K. Dandelions are rich in potassium, giving them a strong diuretic quality as well as making them an excellent blood detoxifier.
10 Potential Health Benefits of Dandelion
Providing antioxidants. …
Antioxidants work to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. The human body produces free radicals naturally, but they cause harm by accelerating aging or the progression of certain diseases.
Dandelions contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Research shows that carotenoids such as beta-carotene play a vital role in reducing cell damage.
Reducing cholesterol. …
Dandelions contain bioactive compounds that may help lower a person’s cholesterol.
One study from 2010 examined the effects of dandelion consumption in rabbits. Its results found that dandelion root and leaf could help lower cholesterol in animals on a high-cholesterol diet.
Another study in mice found that dandelion consumption reduced total cholesterol and levels of fat in the liver. The researchers concluded that dandelion might one day help treat obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
However, testing on humans is necessary to help determine how effective dandelion could be for lowering cholesterol.
Regulating blood sugar. …
There is some evidence to suggest that dandelions contain compounds that may help with regulating blood sugar.
In 2016, some researchers proposed that dandelion’s antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties may help treat type 2 diabetes. However, further research is required to make any definitive claims.
Reducing inflammation. …
Some studies indicate that dandelion extracts and compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body.
In one 2014 study, researchers found that chemicals present in dandelions had some positive effects on reducing inflammatory responses.
They conducted the study in cells and not in human participants, which means that more studies are necessary to conclude that dandelion reduces inflammation in the human body.
Lowering blood pressure. …
There is little research to support the use of dandelion for lowering blood pressure.
However, dandelions are a good source of potassium. There is clinical evidence that shows that potassium can help reduce blood pressure.
For example, research has found that people taking a potassium supplement saw a reduction in their blood pressure, especially if they already had high blood pressure.
Aiding weight loss. …
Some researchers have proposed that dandelion could help people achieve their weight loss goals. This is based on the plant’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption.
A small study of mice found that chlorogenic acid, a chemical present in dandelions, may help reduce weight gain and lipid retention. Strong evidence to support this claim is lacking, however.
Reducing cancer risk. …
Some limited, but positive, research has indicated that dandelion may help reduce the growth of certain types of cancer.
So far, studies have looked at dandelion’s impact on cancer growth in test tubes and found that it may help with slowing the growth of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer.
One study examining cancer growth in a test tube determined that dandelion extract may help reduce the growth of liver cancer.
However, as with other potential benefits, more research is required to show how effective dandelions can be as part of cancer treatment.
There is growing evidence that suggests that dandelions can help boost the immune system.
Researchers have found that dandelions show both antiviral and antibacterial properties. For example, one 2014 study found that dandelions help limit the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells in test tubes.
More research is now required to determine the impact of dandelions on the immune system, however.
Some people use dandelion as a traditional remedy for constipation and other digestion issues.
A study looking at animal digestion indicated that some chemicals present in dandelions helped improve the digestive system.
The study saw a reduction in the resistance in food moving to rodents’ small intestines. Research is now needed on humans to test for similar results.
Keeping skin healthy…
Some research indicates that dandelion may help protect the skin from sun damage.
Ultraviolet (UV) light causes considerable damage to the skin and contributes to skin aging. A 2015 study on skin cells in a test tube found that dandelion could reduce the impact of one type of damaging UV light.
Protecting the skin from UV damage can help a person look younger for longer. Research in humans is needed to verify these results. Salves made with oils infused with dandelions are also great for dry, cracked or itchy skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Here’s a great and simple recipe.
One of the great benefits of dandelion is that all parts of it are edible. Dandelion has six edible parts: leaves, flower buds, upper bud stem, flower heart, and roots. Flavor and texture are highly dependant on growing conditions, your ability to choose the best specimens at the appropriate stage of growth, and your management of the bitterness.
How to Harvest Dandelion
The entire plant is edible: flower, leaves, and roots. The taste resembles that of spicier arugula.
As you probably know, you can grow it from home. However, if you plan to harvest your own greens, make sure you harvest from an area that is not treated with chemicals of any kind. This means you need to avoid areas near freeways or public parks.
You can find dandelion greens and roots in Asian stores or even in some specialty supermarkets if you are not feeling up to foraging. If you do plan to harvest them on your own, it’s better to gather dandelions in the spring when they are young (before they flower) and again in the fall.
One of the great things about dandelions is that you can pretty much harvest with wild abandon without impacting their sustainability.
Culinary Uses for Dandelion
Yes, you can eat dandelions that grow wild in your yard. Remember, avoid any dandelions that have been sprayed with fertilizer or any other toxic sprays.
If raw dandelion leaves don’t appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup, which can make them taste less bitter. The flowers are sweet and crunchy, and can be eaten raw, or breaded and fried, or even used to make dandelion syrup or wine. My favorite is to replace where you would use spinach in a recipe.
You will use the root of the plant to make this tea, so pull up as much of the roots as you can when you are harvesting it.
This tea will effectively treat digestive issues, gallstones, inflammation, muscle aches, and bloating.
You can use either fresh or dried dandelion roots for tea. Both work just as well and are equally effective at helping with digestion problems.
To make your tea, you’ll need to finely chop the dandelion roots first. Then, add the root into a cup with boiling water and steep for 2-3 minutes. You can either make your own tea bags or steep the roots directly in the water and strain it after.
Then, add a bit of honey to cut the bitterness. Without the honey, it’s pretty bitter, especially if it’s an older plant.
Related Post: Learn How to Make Your Own Tea Bags
Dandelion Root Coffee
Lots of people prefer drinking dandelion coffee instead of coffee made from coffee beans. It rinses you gently. In other words, it’s more gentle on your tummy than coffee beans are. 😉
You can brew dandelion coffee in your coffee pot or French press as well. Here’s how to make dandelion coffee.
- Dry the roots
- Grind them up very fine in a food processor
- Place the grounded roots into your coffee pot or French Press and brew like normal.
This is a very bitter coffee, so use your favorite creamer and sweetener. You’ll still be able to get all the same digestive benefits from this coffee as you do the tea.
Sauteed Dandelion Greens
1 pound dandelion greens
1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 whole small dried hot chile pepper (seeds removed, crushed)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Garnish: parmesan cheese
Gather the ingredients.
Discard the dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces.
Cook greens in an uncovered saucepan in a small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and chile pepper, stirring, until the onion is translucent.
Drain greens thoroughly; add to the onion garlic mixture.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve the dandelion greens with grated or shredded Parmesan cheese.