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Dandelion Greens – Health Benefits and Side Effects

Dandelions greens are perennial plants native to temperate regions in the Northern hemisphere. People have been using them throughout history as food and herbs. The scientific name taraxacum originated in medieval Persian writings of pharmacy. At the same time, the English name dandelion comes from the french word dent de lion, meaning “lion’s tooth”. The reason is its coarsely toothed leaves that resemble a lion’s tooth.

Dandelions are usually considered a weeding plant. They are a beneficial weed because they don’t compete for nutrients with neighbouring plants, and their taproot goes deep in the soil and brings up nutrients. As a result, dandelions help increase the fertility of the soil. But not many know about its health benefits and potential as a herb. It is full of nutrients from the root to the tip. 

The raw flower contains diverse phytochemicals, including polyphenols like flavonoids apigenin, isoquercitrin (a quercetin-like compound), caffeic acid, terpenoids, triterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. The roots are rich in inulin. In moderation, raw dandelion greens contain high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. They help reduce swelling and inflammation, boost digestion, improve skin, promote healthy bones, and much more. 

Dandelion greens have a strong flavour. The leaves have a punchy, tangy, and bitter taste. You can include them in your diet in several ways in the form of salads and oven-baked dishes. They can act as a substitute for spinach in various instances and have a higher vitamin K concentration. 

Nutritional Value of Dandelion Greens

As per USDA data, 100 grams of dandelion green serving contains:

Energy: 45 kcalWater: 85.6gFat: 0.73 gProtein: 9.2 g Carbohydrate: 27.6 gFibre: 3.5 gSugars: 0.71 gCalcium: 187 mgIron: 3.1 mg

The Healthify Note:

Dandelion greens have a rich nutritional profile with a low-calorie content. Although they have high carbohydrates, they are rich in fibre and calcium. In addition, they are rich in various essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus etc. However, the green leafy vegetable’s most significant benefits come from their rich vitamin profile, including high amounts of vitamin A, E, C and K.

Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens

Promotes Healthy Bones

Dandelion greens have a high calcium content. Calcium is the major component of bone and provides the skeleton strength and structure. Adequate calcium intake helps slow down bone loss. In contrast, high calcium intake helps increase bone mineral density and a lower risk of hip fractures.

Dandelion greens are also abundant in vitamin K, which is excellent for bone health. Vitamin K helps carboxylation of many bone-related proteins. As a result, it regulates osteoblastic markers’ genetic transcription and bone reabsorption. In addition, research proves that vitamin K and calcium work synergistically on bone density. 

Rich in Antioxidants

Dandelion greens are rich in phytochemicals like sesquiterpenoids, caffeoylquinic acids, and flavonoids. Dandelions and their constituents have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help protect the body against oxidative stress caused by free radicals and fight diseases like cancer, heart-related conditions, and liver diseases. 

Studies have found that extracts from dandelion leaf and root are hydrogen donating, ROS formation-inhibiting, and radical-scavenging.

Anti-carcinogenic

Dandelion may prevent the growth of cancer cells in various organs. 

Research shows that dandelion extract affects colon cancer proliferation and may provide an alternative to chemotherapy for blood cancers. Furthermore, the high content of antioxidants in dandelions can reduce cell growth in stomach cancer and kill cancer cells in pancreatic cancer.

Aids Weight Loss

Dandelion has diuretic qualities due to its high potassium content, which may contribute to weight loss. It increases liver function and helps remove excess fluid from the body, which decreases your water weight. In addition, the fibre in dandelion positively affects digestion, which is essential for healthy weight loss.

Anti-Diabetic

Several studies show that dandelion reduces blood sugar due to its bioactive components such as flavonoids, phenols, and phenolic acids. As a result, it decreases insulin secretion. In addition, dandelion contains inulin, which includes complex carbohydrates that can help normalise blood sugar levels. Studies also prove that it reduces hyperglycemia when used in high levels of water extract. Its impact on insulin secretion and sensitivity makes it a healthy option for use in anti-diabetic drugs. 

Reduces Cholesterol

Dandelion contains bioactive compounds which may help in reducing cholesterol levels. A study on the effects of dandelion on cholesterol-fed rabbits concluded that dandelion helps prevent hypercholesterolemia by reducing oxidative stress. As a result, it decreases the risk of coronary heart disease. 

Reduces Blood Pressure

Dandelion detoxifies the liver. The potassium in dandelion acts as a diuretic, which increases urine production. It helps the body eliminate excess fluid, which may decrease blood pressure. The potassium in dandelion also accelerates blood clotting and, in turn, reduces blood pressure. A study in rats demonstrated that dandelion leaf extract effectively lowers blood pressure under experimental conditions.

Detoxifies the Liver

Dandelion comprises polysaccharides that help reduce the stress on the liver and increase its ability to produce bile. According to research, it also prevents liver fibrosis and the inflammation caused by it. In addition, its antioxidant and phenolic content help detoxify the liver.

Good for the Skin

Dandelion is rich in vitamin A and vitamin K, both proving good for the skin. According to research, vitamin K helps protect the collagen in the body and maintain skin elasticity. As a result, it prevents wrinkles and fine lines. 

Vitamin A protects your skin against sunburns. Research suggests topical retinoids in vitamin A help treat fine wrinkles, rough texture, and pigmentation.

Improve Vision

Dandelion is a great vitamin A source that benefits your visual health. Dandelion greens also contain flavonoid zeaxanthin and carotenoid lutein, which help shield the retina from U.V. rays and reduce the risk of eye damage. Experts also recommend using dandelion tea as an anti-bacterial eyelid wash.

Heals Wounds Faster

Dandelion is rich in vitamin K, which promotes healing. It is also abundant in vitamin A, which can reverse the inhibitory effects of anti-inflammatory steroids on wound healing. Research indicates that vitamin A stimulates epidermal turnover, increases the rate of re-epithelialisation, and restores epithelial structure in wounded tissue.

The HealthifyMe Note

People have been using dandelion greens for ages due to their nutrient-rich properties and health benefits. The French call it Pissenlit because of its strong diuretic effects. Dandelion greens are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In addition, they are low in calories and a good source of dietary fibre. Some significant benefits include reducing cholesterol, moderating blood sugar levels, aiding weight loss, boosting the immune system, etc.

How to Include Dandelion Greens in Your Diet?

With their potent flavour, dandelion greens can be a great addition to your dishes. You can add them to your salad for a slightly intense flavour and a pop of colour. You can boil and blanch the leaves to decrease the bitterness. Since young dandelion leaves are less bitter than mature ones, you can use them as an ingredient in your healthy salads.

Some of the ways to use dandelion greens are:

You can add some dandelion stems to your salad. The bitter flavour goes well with a hearty mix of dishes. Dandelion goes well with seafood and pasta dishes.You can use dandelion as a herb to add a kick to your dishes.You can brew dandelion into a cup of delicious dandelion tea.You can blend it into your smoothie to make a vitamin K-rich post-workout drink.Add it to your soup or stews to make them nutritious.

Preparation before Using them

Rinse them with cold water to get rid of any dirt.The stems of dandelion greens are stiff; chop them off before cutting the rest of the leaves.Chop the leaves roughly and make them finer according to your dish.

Dandelion Green Recipes 

Dandelion Greens and Beans Skillet

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbspThinly sliced onion: ½ mediumMinced garlic: 3 clovesFresh thyme leaves: 1 tbspGround nutmeg: to taste Salt: to taste Pepper: to taste Bunch of dandelion greens: 1 large (250 g)Canned Cannellini beans: 3½ cupsCanned Red beans: 3½ cupsBalsamic Vinegar: 2 tbspGround cinnamon: to taste 

Method

Take a large skillet and heat olive oil over medium heat.Add the onions and saute for five minutes till it softens.Add garlic, thyme, ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.Wash the dandelion greens thoroughly and chop them roughly. Add them to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until they soften.Add beans and cook for 2-3 minutes until they are heated thoroughly.Add balsamic vinegar and toss. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Sautéed Dandelion Greens with Eggs

Servings: 2 to 4

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Chopped dandelion greens: 4 cupsUnsalted butter: 1 tbspLarge Leek: 1Large Eggs: 4Crumbled Feta Cheese: ¼ cup

Method

Add chopped dandelion greens to a large pot of salted water and boil to blanch them. Drain the water. Try to get rid of as much water as possible by squeezing the greens.Heat a pan and put butter/ghee. Add leeks and saute till they are tender for about five minutes. Add dandelion greens in portions. Cook each portion till it starts wilting, and then add the rest.After the greens wilt, create shallow nests/circles in the greens with a spoon. Crack eggs into each hole and top with feta cheese, and cook for about five minutes till the whites of the eggs get set. Serve with toasted bread.

Precautions

Allergies

Dandelions may cause allergic reactions, especially in people allergic to ragweed. It may also cause skin allergies for people with sensitive skin.

Low Blood Sugar

Dandelion may decrease your blood sugar so if you have low blood sugar levels, avoid dandelion greens.

Medication

Vitamin K in dandelion might reduce the efficacy of blood thinners. According to studies, if you are taking blood thinners warfarin, you should avoid vitamin K-rich foods since it might worsen coronary artery calcification. Talk to your doctor beforehand about possible drug interactions.

Take in moderation

Dandelion greens are rich in inulin, which in excess might cause stomach cramping, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, and other digestive distress. Diuretics may also lead to a loss of electrolytes and fluid, possibly causing muscle cramps or even more severe problems.

Summary

Dandelion greens are full of essential nutrients. People have been using this nutritious herb for ages for their health benefits. They are anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic. They can help fight cancer cells, aid weight loss, reduce cholesterol, and boost immune health, among other health benefits. Although they taste bitter, you can incorporate them into several dishes. For example, it pairs well with salads, soup, stews, etc. You can also make a tea or smoothie with dandelion greens to fulfil your daily requirement of Vitamin K.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are dandelion greens good for?

A. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, E, K, C, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, and potassium. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants and health benefits such as promoting heart health, improving vision, weight loss, etc.

Q. What does the dandelion leaf do to the body?

A. Dandelion leaves provide your body with antioxidants, reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, boost the immune system, prevent cancer and diabetes, etc., among its many benefits.

Q. Can you eat dandelion greens every day?

A. You should consume dandelion greens in moderation since they contain inulin, which in excess might cause stomach cramping, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, and other digestive distress. Therefore, even though dandelion greens offer multiple benefits, it is recommended not to consume them daily. 

Q. Should dandelion greens be eaten raw or cooked?

A. You can have dandelion greens both raw and cooked. The bitter greens pair well with a hearty salad or can be cooked with soups, stews, and pasta to make a healthy meal. In addition, you can put dandelion greens in your smoothie to boost your vitamin K intake.

Q. What sickness can dandelions cure?

A. Dandelion can treat kidney problems, stomach problems, diarrhoea, fever, diabetes, appendicitis, etc. It has abundant health benefits, which can help treat many diseases and conditions. Since it aids digestion, it may also assist in weight loss. It also contains anti-cancer properties. 

Q. Which part of the dandelion is poisonous?

A. Dandelions have low toxicity and are edible from top to root. But depending on how they’re grown, producers might have sprayed them with pesticides. So you should always wash them thoroughly before consuming them in any form.

Q.  Is dandelion anti-inflammatory?

A. Yes, dandelion is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols which may reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to health problems, including heart and liver diseases. According to research, you can incorporate dandelion into your diet to decrease inflammation caused by liver fibrosis.

Q. Does dandelion tea reduce belly fat?

A. Dandelion tea is rich in diuretics which increase liver function and flush out all the harmful toxins in the body. It helps you lose water weight by increasing the production of urine. Since it aids in digestion, it might assist in overall weight loss.

Q. Does dandelion root make you poop?

A. The bitter compounds in dandelion are also mild laxatives. It also helps increase bile production in the liver, which can indirectly help treat constipation. In addition, dandelion roots increase the bulk of stools, thus making them easier to pass and reducing constipation problems. 

Q. Are dandelion greens better than kale?

A. Dandelions are higher in vitamins and nutrients than kale. It also has higher quantities of dietary fibre, energy, thiamin, riboflavin, and choline per 100 g. They have significantly more Vitamin A, E, and K levels. They also have greater levels of carbohydrates than kale.

Q. What are the benefits of eating dandelion greens?

A. Dandelion greens are a great addition to your daily diet. They have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties. Eating dandelion greens improves heart health, shows improvement in patients with diabetes, aids better vision and weight loss, reduces cholesterol, etc.

Q. What is the nutritional value of dandelion greens?

A. According to USDA, dandelion green serves high amounts of potassium (100 g contains 397 mg), phosphorous (100 g contains 66 mg), calcium (100 g contains 187 mg), magnesium (100 g contains 36 mg), and protein (100 g contains 9.2 g). It also has a significant amount of vitamin A (100 g contains 508 µg), vitamin C (100 g contains 35 mg), vitamin E (100 g contains 3.44 mg) and vitamin K (100 g has 778µg).

Q. Can you eat too many dandelion greens?

A. Consuming anything in excess is not suitable for health. For example, consuming too many dandelion greens or overeating may cause stomach cramping, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, and other digestive distress.

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