The weather is warm … the grass is green … and the weeds have shown up, as well. Did you know that those pesky dandelions on your lawn also pack a punch with lots of health benefits?
May Help Battle Diabetes
Research shows that juice from the dandelion can help to stimulate the production of insulin in the pancreas in diabetic patients. This insulin helps to keep the blood sugar level low. Dandelions are natural diuretics, therefore they help to increase urination and aid in removing excess sugar from the body. Researchers have found that the diuretic quality of dandelions can help remove the sugar deposition in the kidneys through increased urination, which can lower the risk of renal problems.
Weight Loss Aid
According to studies, dandelions can aid in weight loss and management. Our urine contains nearly four percent fat, and consuming dandelions increases the need for urination; therefore eliminating more water and fat from our bodies. Dandelions are low in calories, full of vitamins and have the ability to help the body rid itself of “water weight.” Dandelions are also high in fiber, helping your body shed waste.
A serving of dandelions provides over 500 percent of the recommended daily value of Vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones and may aid in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. A serving of dandelions also offers over 100 percent of the needed dose of Vitamin A, which is beneficial for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. Dandelions contain a flavonoid that protects the eye from UV rays, while others protect the body from lung and mouth cancers. 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.
Research is being done with dandelions and their ability to help combat jaundice. Jaundice occurs when the liver starts to overproduce bile, which enters the bloodstream and causes problems with metabolism. To fight jaundice, you need to slow down the production of bile, remove the excess bile and fight the underlying viral infection. Dandelions are showing promise in these three steps. They promote liver health and help to regulate bile production. Dandelions’ diuretic effect reduces excess bile and because it is an antioxidant and disinfectant, dandelions battle viral infections.
May Prevent Cancer
Research has shown some positive results with dandelions and the battle against cancer. Dandelions contain high quantities of antioxidants, which reduce free radicals – the major cancer causing agents. Researchers are finding that dandelion greens and juice can help reduce the risk of cancer. Dandelions can help detoxify the body, reducing the risk of developing tumors and various forms of cancer. Dandelions contain luteolin, which has been found to poison the essential components of cancer cells by binding to them. When bound, the cells are ineffective and unable to reproduce. Studies are currently being done on prostate cancer with promising results.
Dandelion Leaves & Other Wild Greens
Dandelion leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. While smaller leaves are considered to be less bitter and more palatable raw, they can be harvested at any point in the growing season. Bigger leaves can be eaten as well, especially as an addition to a green salad.
Pick your own edible wild greens only if you’ve done your research – they can have potentially hazardous lookalikes in nature, and could contain harmful pesticides. The safest option: grab a bunch at the grocery store or farmers’ market. Stay away from those that are yellow or look slimy.
In addition, wild greens are high in vitamin K, which can make blood clot faster. If you’re taking blood-thinning medications, let your doctor know, and consume wild greens in moderation.
From the roots to the blossoms, every part of this common, edible weed is tasty both raw and cooked!