For many of us, dandelions bring back childhood memories of making a wish and blowing the soft, cottony seeds across the lawn. For a smaller population, they are the first sign of spring and an opportunity to feast on one of the healthiest foods for next to nothing. Dandelion greens have been cultivated for thousands of years for use as a folk remedy in China, Europe, and North America. Can you believe that we've grown to consider them as weeds? We pluck and discard them from our lawns and gardens and have no idea of the incredible benefits we are missing out on!
Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens are used widely to aid digestion and detoxification of the liver. Modern-day research supports this and other health benefits including:
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Supports kidney function for use as a diuretic
- Alleviates bloating from PMS
- Heals and cleanses the gallbladder, increasing the release of bile
- Promotes digestive health
- Promotes healthy bacteria growth in the intestines
- Strong antiviral properties
- They even lessens flatulence!
Dandelion greens are incredibly rich in calcium and vitamin K, which help to support strong bones. They also contain a great deal of vitamin A, C and E which means that they foster eye health, bolster immunity and are beneficial for skin and hair. You can also find iron, manganese, potassium, vitamin D, copper, zinc, and B vitamins in these nutritious leaves. Scientists are also speculating about the use of these greens to reduce the risk of cancer, MS, cataracts, leukemia, and inflammatory diseases. They just have so much potential!
Take a look at the shape of a dandelion leaf. What does it remind you of? The French origin of the word dandelion is dentdelion, which means "tooth of the lion".
Most specialty stores and farmers markets carry dandelion greens, however, they are obviously popping up right in your own backyard during spring and early summer months! If you do choose to forage from your own lawn, take note if your grass gets treated with pesticides or other chemicals, as we want to avoid those.
Note that these greens also have a bit of a bite, similarly to arugula, but for a less bitter taste, pluck the young greens that have not yet produced flowers (even though those cute little yellow guys are edible too!).
Once collected, you can use the greens raw, mixed into a salad, or add a touch of olive oil and garlic and use them in a stir-fry. For a morning detox boost, use them in a smoothie with some fruit to mask the peppery taste.
Since they help to detox the liver, kidneys and gallbladder, these greens are ideal for a personal spring cleaning! Manicuring your lawn and purifying your body? That's a double whammy!
So, tell us, have you tried them yet?