Dandelions are thought to be pesky weeds by many people. HOA’s ban them. Chemical manufacturers produce herbicides to kill them. And yet no one stops to consider how many benefits dandelion actually has for our health.
Dandelion should actually be known as a “miracle weed”, as it really is that good for us.
Come with me on this journey into the many benefits of dandelion!
Nutritional Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelions are very nutritious, and such a common weed should really be used more often as a food source. Dandelion greens are low in calories, yet loaded with vitamins and minerals. One cup of raw greens only have 25 calories, so they are definitely considered low-calorie. Yet they provide 1.5 grams of protein and 1.9 grams of fiber.
Dandelions are high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, and also provide calcium, potassium, iron, folate, and magnesium. What’s really amazing about the lowly dandelion is that just 1 cup of dandelion greens can give you over 300% of your body’s daily needs of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for heart and bone health.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Every part of the dandelion is edible and medicinal. Here are some of the health benefits of dandelion.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Dandelion root has a few phytochemicals that help the body regulate blood sugar levels. This is especially helpful for Type II diabetics. Dandelion root is high in inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber that helps the body process sugars more efficiently.
Dandelion roots also have chlorogenic acid, which affects the way the body secretes and uses insulin. These may be a very beneficial supplement for diabetics to use.
Protects and Improves Vision
The vitamin A in dandelion greens help protect vision. Dandelion greens contain retinol, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are all beneficial for eye health. Lutein builds up in the retina, which helps prevent age-related vision problems.
Good for Heart Health
The high nutrient content of dandelions seems to have a beneficial impact on heart health as well. Studies have shown that dandelion can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. The potassium in dandelion also helps reduce blood pressure. The folate and vitamin C in dandelions are also good for heart health.
Combine those benefits with the fact that dandelion is low in fat and sugar and high in fiber, gives you more great reasons to eat your weeds.
Fights Oxidative Stress
Dandelions are high in antioxidants, which means they help fight oxidative stress. These antioxidants come in the form of both beta-carotene and polyphenols, which dandelions are rich in. Our bodies naturally produce free radicals, but when there is too much of them, they can cause early aging and damage to our cells and organs.
Helps Fight Inflammation
The polyphenols in dandelion are also believed to be beneficial in fighting excess inflammation. Inflammation is part of your body’s natural response to injury or illness. However, like free radicals, too much of it can be harmful to our cells and organs. Inflammation can even cause damage to our DNA.
Supports Healthy Bones
Several of the nutritional compounds in dandelion have been shown to support healthy bones. Both calcium and vitamin K are helpful for strong bones, and dandelion has both. Also, the inulin in dandelion root has been shown to aid in bone health by improving digestion and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Boosts the Immune System
One of the best benefits of dandelion, in my opinion, is its ability to boost the immune system. Dandelions have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which can help our bodies fight against viruses and bacteria.
Interestingly enough, a German study has also shown that dandelion extract can help stop the spike proteins of SARS-Cov-2 from binding to the ACE2 receptors in the lung and kidney cells.
Aids in Healthy Digestion
The compounds in dandelion help aid in healthy digestion. Inulin, found in the root, digests very slowly in the intestines. It actually ferments in the intestines, where it helps promote healthy gut bacteria. This helps treat and prevent constipation.
Dandelion also helps improve the rate of stomach contractions. This helps the body empty the stomach contents more efficiently into the small intestine.
May Aid in Fighting Cancer
One of the most intriguing benefits of dandelion is the possibility of it helping to fight cancer. Studies showed that cancer growth was significantly decreased by the use of dandelion leaf extract. Cancer growth in the liver, colon, and pancreas was slowed by using dandelion root extract.
More studies are needed to determine efficacy, but this lowly weed is definitely showing promise in the fight against cancer.
Removes Toxins from the Body
Dandelion is one of the most effective toxin removers. It cleanses the liver, the lymph, and the blood. This is especially important to protect our overall health. Cleansing the liver and lymph helps it to work more efficiently, and promotes more detoxification.
Most practitioners recommend doing a liver cleanse both before and after doing a parasite or heavy metal cleanse. Dandelion does this safely and effectively.
This is exactly the reason that I harvested and roasted dandelion roots for my Self Reliant Skill of the Week. You can see the video here:
How to Use Dandelion for the Health Benefits
If you want to use dandelion for the health benefits, you have 2 options. You could buy a supplement to take every day, or you could forage your own.
Keep in mind you will probably have quite a few choices when it comes to dandelion supplements. If are wanting liver, lymph, and blood detox and health, you should get a dandelion root supplement. Also, take a root supplement if you’re wanting the prebiotic action. If you want it for the nutritional value, or for virus-fighting action, or the diuretic action, get a dandelion leaf supplement.
You have more options if you choose to forage your own dandelions. But it also takes a little more work, of course! If you’re new to foraging, you might want to check out my helpful post on foraging for beginners.
Dandelion greens are best in the spring. They are the most tender and the least bitter.
In the summer, after they flower, the leaves tend to get tough and bitter. However, you can also harvest the flowers for dandelion jelly! Here is a video I made of making it:
Fall is the best time to harvest dandelion roots. Fall is when the plants send energy to their roots. So this is when the roots have the most nutrients. After a few light frosts is actually the absolute best time!
Do You Use Dandelion?
Time to tell us – do you use dandelion? Do you buy a supplement or do you harvest your own? Let us know in the comments!