Dandelion greens belong to one of the largest plant families – the Sunflower – which include more than 22,000 species, including daisies and thistles. The first reference of dandelions being used as a medicine was written by Middle Eastern physicians in the 10th and 11th centuries. Welsh medicinals concocted as early as the 13th century made use of both the roots and leaves.
After gathering this plentiful, easily recognizable herb – preferably the younger, paler leaves – rinse them gently, pat them dry, and store them in plastic bags in a low-moisture refrigerator drawer. Blanching them by immersing them in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds helps reduce a sometimes-present acrid taste before adding them to salads or sandwiches. Try adding dandelion greens to soups, stews and casseroles, as well as to herbal teas and coffee.
Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens
When your grandmother said dandelion greens were good for you, she wasn’t kidding.
Folk medicine claims the dandelion plant is a powerful healer, used to purify the blood, settle digestion and prevent piles and gall stones, among other maladies. The fact is the greens of the humble dandelion provide 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which may be the most important source of any other plant-based food to strengthen bones, but may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuron damage in the brain.
Dandelion greens also give the body 112 percent of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A as an antioxidant carotenoid, which is particularly good for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. A flavonoid called zeaxanthin protects the retina from UV rays, while others, primarily carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, protect the body from lung and mouth cancers.
Need more benefits? Dandelion greens are high in fiber, which helps your body shed waste. These greens also contain vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. Other nutrients present in dandelion greens include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Dandelion greens are on Dr. Mercola’s “most highly recommended vegetables” list.
Dandelion Greens Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Studies Done on Dandelion Greens
A study in 2011 involving the testing of dandelion root tea showed there may be a "kill switch" on leukemia cell receptors through a process called apoptosis. Researchers reported that dandelion root tea didn’t seem to send the same “kill” message to healthy cells. The study concluded that dandelion root extract may prove to be a non-toxic alternative to conventional leukemia therapy.1
Dandelion root extract also showed itself to be a possible cancer fighter, halting the growth of melanoma cells without inducing toxicity in non-cancerous cells – even those cells considered to be drug-resistant.2
Dandelion Greens Healthy Recipes:
Dandelion and Fennel Salad
|1 bunch finely chopped dandelion greens
||½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
|2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
||½ cup bean sprouts
|1 lemon juiced
||1 Tbsp. mirin (found in the Asian aisle)
||1/8 tsp. sesame oil
|1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
||1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
||2 Tbsp. olive oil
|¼ tsp. maple syrup
- Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together, pour over the top, toss lightly, and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Mercola)
Dandelion Greens Fun Facts
The Middle English form of dandelion – dent-de-lioun – reveals the word’s French origin: dentdelion, meaning "tooth of the lion," for the plant’s sharply indented leaves.
While dandelions are considered a nuisance by those who prefer a pristine lawn, others know the many benefits that dandelions have yielded over centuries in the areas of folk medicine and healthy eating. It’s proven as an antioxidant that also lowers blood sugar, but it may also be useful in treating jaundice, cirrhosis, edema, gout, eczema, and acne. There’s even evidence that dandelion greens might prove helpful in treating AIDS and herpes. Highly nutritious as an ingredient in salads, its roots show ever-increasing possibilities in the fight against cancer.