Dandelion is a surprisingly healthy addition to your diet

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2022

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Did you know that dandelion can be considered a true superfood? That’s right, this vegetable green not only made the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of most nutritious foods, but did so ahead of red peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, strawberries, oranges, and cabbage. 


Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw, and provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They also contains vitamin E, folate, and small amounts of other B vitamins. Dandelion also yields substantial amounts of dietary minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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These are perennial herbaceous plants, meaning botanists consider them to be herbs, and they grow best in sunny areas found in all parts of the northern temperate zone. The derivation of the name dandelion comes from the French term ‘dent de lion’ meaning ‘tooth of the lion.’


This plant has been a vital element in the field of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and was also valued and utilized by ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.


Today, we understand many additional uses and applications of dandelion for medicinal purposes. Here are a few of its healthful benefits: 


There is evidence to suggest that dandelion contains compounds that help balance blood sugar. This antihyperglycemic effect may also improve the secretion of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This could be of real benefit to those with type 2 diabetes. 


There is limited, but positive research that indicates that dandelion may reduce the growth of certain cancers. One study observed dandelion extract’s impact on cancer growth and determined that it may help reduce the growth of liver cancer. Another study examined that dandelion’s cancer cell-killing effectiveness, induced programmed cell death (PCD) selectively in 95% of colon cancer cells. 


There is growing evidence that dandelion can boost the immune system. Researchers discovered that dandelion possesses both antiviral and antibacterial properties. One 2014 study found that dandelion helps limit the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells in laboratory tests. 


One cup of dandelion greens holds just 25 calories, yet yields 2 grams of dietary fiber, which means you feel fuller, longer. Also, compounds found in dandelion may promote improved carbohydrate metabolism with reduced fat absorption.


The dandelion is the only flower representing three celestial bodies during different phases of its life cycle. The yellow flower represents the sun, the puff ball resembles the moon, and the dispersing seeds of the plant, the stars. Almost all parts of the dandelion plant are edible, including the flower, leaves, and seeds. The stem can be a bit bitter, though. Consuming or touching dandelion could lead to an allergic reaction in some folks, including the milky sap within the stem, which may cause contact dermatitis. However, the pollen of the plant can not cause an allergic reaction. Dandelions are also called pioneer plants or ruderals, because they are usually the first plants to colonize disturbed lands, like after a wildfire. That’s why symbolically, dandelions represent the return to life, and a display of abundant strength and power.


Dandelion greens are on the bitter side, with a spicy kick similar to arugula. The leaves can be added and tossed into a salad, and its sunny flowers give color to salads and other dishes. Dandelion root can be used in a tasty drink, similar to coffee. 


Whether eaten or taken in supplement form, dandelion can be a healthful addition to the diet. 


David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at dwcrocker77@gamil.com, or text him at 864-494-6215.