"A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I live in a part of California where dandelion greens grow like weeds. In fact if I didn't keep my yard tended to, it would be full of these flowering plants. The name actually comes from a corruption of the French for "tooth of the lion" (dent de lion). The Latin name for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, or remedy for disorders. While many consider this plant a nuisance, herbalists and nutritionists rever the dandelion as a valuable herb.
This hardy plant contains a milky white sap. On top of the root, but just below the surface is a crown of blanched leaf stems. This is considered the tastiest part of the plant. It can be eaten raw as a salad or cooked like other vegetables. The leaves that appear above the ground are the dandelion greens. They should be gathered before the plant blooms, or they will be quite bitter and tough. If your dandelions have already bloomed, you may as well wait for the blossom to turn into a seed wand, make a wish and blow!
Dandelion greens are very low calorie, having only 25 calories in a one cup serving. But these greens do not lack in nutrients. Dandelion is particularly high in vitamins, minerals, protein, choline, inulin and pectin. It even has a higher Vitamin A content than carrots! It is also a good source of Vitamin C, some B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, copper, manganese and iron.
Dandelion And Your Liver
Dandelion has amazing benefits for your liver. It is recommended for liver detoxification just as much as the more commonly known milk thistle. Dandelion is an excellent natural laxative. It is better than using drugs for constipation because it can be taken for months with no ill effects. It increases release of bile by the liver and gall bladder, which explains why it is so effective at helping with heartburn and indigestion.
Dandelion And Blood Sugar
As mentioned, dandelion is an abundant source of inulin. This nutrient is a natural type of soluble fiber that is helpful in controlling blood sugar and diabetes. In some studies it has shown to lower blood sugar, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while raising beneficial HDL lipoproteins (sometimes called good cholesterol). Inulin is also believed to help with calcium and magnesium absorption and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Use dandelion greens in salads or cook with other vegetables. You can pretty much use this plant as you would use carrots. Stir fry, sauté with onions, or toss in your soup! My favorite is roasted dandelion tea. It's an excellent tonic for your liver.
Please tip your hat to this remarkable plant the next time you walk by a field of dandelion. It's great for your health and it's abundant. What more could we ask for?