Celebrating Dandelion’s Health Benefits
Dandelions are one of the most hated weeds! Why? Mostly, because some people want lawns like golf courses. However, dandelions have been used as food and for medicine for thousands of years. They are extremely good for you!
Last week, while creating my vegetable patch and digging dandelions up from my lawn, I decided to harvest them as food rather than as weeds. I decided to celebrate dandelions! You can learn how to:
- Pick the flowers for pancakes and syrup and cordial
- Use the leaves for salad and steaming
- Kept the roots for dandelion coffee.
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Dandelions came into existence about 30 million years ago in Eurasia. Humans have been eating them as food and using them as medicine for as long as there has been recorded history.
- Many sources suggest that the dandelion came from Asia, where it used as food and medicine.
- Before the year 1000, Arabs also used dandelions as a medicine.
- Dandelions did not exist in North America when the Mayflower arrived in 1620. European immigrants used dandelions as part of their regular diet, and brought them over to began to cultivate them in North America.
- These days, dandelions grow profusely.
7 Health Benefits:
1. The leaves can be used to treat upset stomach, muscle aches, intestinal gas, constipation and loss of appetite. Like all dark leafy vegetables, they are strongly alkaline. Here’s a complete list of dandelion leaf benefits.
2. Spanish people brought it over for medicine and for food, called chicoria.
3. Germans used it as an early spring infusion of nutrition and vitamins.
4. The English used it to cure liver problems and other illnesses.
5. In India, it is also used mainly as a remedy for liver problems.
6. Dandelion root is grown and exported to Russia for medical remedies.
7. The roots are used to help the liver, anemia, and much more.
Next: trivia and nutrition
- The word “dandelion” comes from the French name for the plant, dent-de-lion, which means “teeth of the lion” and refers to the jagged edges of the leaf of the plant.
- Every year, 55 tons of a coffee substitute made from roasted dandelion roots are sold in England, Australia and Canada.
- Dandelions are important for bees: they are a key source of nectar, as they flower early and continue flowering right into the fall.
- Dandelion seeds are food for many small birds.
- Another French name is pis-en-lit, which means “wet the bed.” This comes from the fact that when dandelion greens are eaten, they remove water from the body.
- The leaves contain almost as much iron as spinach (the first powerfood), and four times its Vitamin A content.
- Its leaves have the highest vitamin A content of any of the greens.
- Leaves also contain copper, potassium zinc and several vitamins: they are nutrient-dense.
- Dandelion root heads are excellent foods for the liver because of their relatively high amounts of choline, an important liver nutrient.
- Dandelion flowers are full of lecithin, which has proven useful in various liver ailments.
Tips on Choosing your Dandelions:
- The best leaves to eat are from new dandelion plants. These are small dandelion plants with small roots.
- The best roots to use in dandelion coffee come from the big, well-established dandelions.
Safety Note: Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Because of its high potassium level, dandelion can increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics.
Next: how to grow dandelions at home
How to Grow Dandelions (if you don’t have enough!):
It seems strange to me that anyone would want to grow them, when they often grow so well on their own. I will not be doing this myself, as they grow profusely in my garden already; there are many new plants each year for my salads.
- As you may have noticed, dandelions are very hardy: they do not need fertilizer or constantly watering, and they will grow anywhere in any conditions.
- If you want to eat the leaves, then you need a first-year dandelion. When the plant becomes old, the leaves are bitter.
- Dandelions can be grown either from seed or with root segments.
Why are dandelions not considered to be flowers? You have to admit that when dandelion season is in full swing, those yellow blooms are beautiful. Children enjoy picking dandelions for their mom and delight in blowing the puffy dandelion seeds into the wind. I remember that we would always make a wish before we blew them.
My first weekend of dandelion celebration was so much fun in the kitchen, creating new recipes from dandelions! All the other ingredients I use are very healthy too.
Next: tasty dandelion recipes
Dandelion Root Coffee: The fist time I tried this recipe this year was a Dandelion Disaster, but all is good now!
Dandelion Flower Syrup: You can taste the unique sweetness from the yellow petals. (Read more about the health benefits of the flowers here.)
Dandelion Flower Cordial: The word cordial sounds tasty, and it’s very appropriate in this case!
Dandelion Tea: Made with the leaves — this is perhaps the easiest and fastest way to use a dandelion.
Dandelion Smoothie: After almost passing out from a dandelion smoothie, Randy gives some practical tips to keep your dandelion smoothie palatable.