Dandelion Greens: Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts

Most of us would never consider cooking up weeds from our garden, so the idea of eating dandelion greens may seem strange. Though considered by many to be a weed, technically, dandelion (Taraxacum) is an herb. In fact, every part of the plant is edible and believed to provide various health benefits. Dandelion greens are packed with health-promoting nutrients that might have you thinking twice about this ubiquitous yellow flower.

What is dandelion?

Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers.Taraxacum officinale is the most common variety of this plant, and it grows in many parts of the world.

Botanists consider dandelions to be herbs. People use the leaves, stem, flower, and root of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.

Dandelion Greens Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw dandelion greens (55g) provides 25 calories, 1.5g of protein, 5.1g of carbohydrates, and 0.4g of fat. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, and calcium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 42mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.1g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Sugars: 0.4g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Vitamin K: 428.1mcg
  • Iron: 1.7mg
  • Vitamin A: 279.4mcg

Carbs
Fresh dandelion greens provide just 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup, with about 2 grams of fiber. They’re naturally very low in sugar.

Fats
Dandelion greens are not a significant source of fat on their own, but fat may be added during preparation.

Protein
A cup of fresh dandelion greens has 1.5 grams of protein. Like most plants, dandelion greens don’t provide all of the body’s essential amino acids, so it’s important to consume a variety of protein foods to meet your dietary needs.

Vitamins and Minerals
Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A, C, E, and K and also provide the mineral calcium. They also provide some potassium, iron, folate, and magnesium. The type of iron in dandelion greens is non-heme, making it less absorbable, but it is still a wise choice for non-meat eaters to acquire enough of the mineral.

Dandelion greens are exceptional for the amount of vitamin K they provide. One cup contains 357% of your daily recommended amount based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Vitamin K plays a role in preventing osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.

Calories
One cup of raw dandelion greens (55g) provides 25 calories, making it a very low-calorie food. Approximately 69% of the calories come from carbs, 20% from protein, and 11% from fat.

What is cassava used for?

Cassava is a rich, affordable source of carbohydrates. It can provide more calories per acre of the crop than cereal grain crops, which makes it a very useful crop in developing nations.

People prepare and eat cassava in various ways in different parts of the world, with baking and boiling being the most common methods. In some places, people ferment cassava before using it.

It is essential to peel cassava and never eat it raw. It contains dangerous levels of cyanide unless a person cooks it thoroughly before eating it.

Foods that people can make using cassava include:

  • bread, which can contain cassava flour only or both cassava and wheat flour
  • french fries
  • mashed cassava
  • cassava chips
  • cassava bread soaked in coconut milk
  • cassava cake
  • cassava in coconut sauce
  • yuca con mojo, a Cuban dish that combines cassava with a sauce comprising citrus juices, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin, and oregano
  • tapioca, which is a common dessert food
  • starch and flour products, which people can use to make gluten-free bread

Most products use a combination of cassava and a cereal grain to improve texture, taste, and nutritional profile.

In addition to eating cassava, people also use it for:

  • feeding animals
  • making medications
  • manufacturing fabrics, paper, and building materials, such as plywood
  • making bioethanol for fuel

Scientists may eventually be able to replace high fructose corn syrup with cassava or tapioca syrup. Researchers are also hoping that cassava could be a source of the alcohol that manufacturers use to make polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, and other industrial products.

Health Benefits

Dandelion greens are a nutritious vegetable, filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Here’s what you stand to gain by adding dandelion greens to your diet.

Helps Protect Vision

Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamin A. The recommended daily allowance for this vitamin is given as retinol activity equivalents (RAE), and most adults need 700 to 900 micrograms per day. Dandelion greens supply 279 micrograms in a one-cup serving.

Other forms of vitamin A are also present in dandelion greens: lutein and zeaxanthin. Because lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina, they are particularly beneficial in preventing age-related macular degeneration.

Contain Potent Antioxidants

Dandelion are a rich source of beta-carotene and polyphenolic compounds, both of which are known to have strong antioxidant capabilities that can prevent aging and certain diseases.

Dandelion are full of potent antioxidants, which may explain why this plant has such broad applications for health.

Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize or prevent the negative effects of free radicals in your body.

Free radicals are a product of normal metabolism but can be very destructive. The presence of too many free radicals contributes to disease development and accelerated aging. Therefore, antioxidants are essential for keeping your body healthy.

Dandelion contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is known to provide strong protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress.

They’re also rich in another category of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are found in the highest concentration in the flower but are present in the roots, leaves and stems as well.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

Dandelion roots have several bioactive compounds that work against type 2 diabetes symptoms.5 For instance, dandelions are rich in inulin, a type of fiber that’s been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels. They also contain chlorogenic acid, which impacts both the secretion of and insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, dandelion’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may protect against long-term complications of type 2 diabetes (like heart disease).

Reducing inflammation

Some studies indicate that dandelion extracts and compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body.

In one 2014 study, , researchers found that chemicals present in dandelions had some positive effects on reducing inflammatory responses.

They conducted the study in cells and not in human participants, which means that more studies are necessary to conclude that dandelion reduces inflammation in the human body.

May Improve Heart Health

In studies on rabbits, dandelion effectively reduces triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL (good cholesterol levels).7 Although more human studies are needed to prove cause and effect, the nutrients in dandelion greens are promising for human heart health.

Dandelion contains potassium, which is known to reduce blood pressure. Dandelions are naturally low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. They’re also a good source of heart-healthy vitamins like folate and vitamin C.

May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

In limited in-vitro (test tube) research, dandelion root extract has been shown to promote the death of colon cancer cells without causing harm to healthy surrounding cells. Although more research in humans is needed, dandelion root has the potential to kill cancer cells that have become resistant to drug treatment. Because dandelion root is generally non-toxic, it may be a good adjunct to conventional cancer therapy.

Aiding weight loss

Some researchers have proposed that dandelion could help people achieve their weight loss goals. This is based on the plant’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption.

A small study of mice found that chlorogenic acid, a chemical present in dandelions, may help reduce weight gain and lipid retention. Strong evidence to support this claim is lacking,

Boosting the immune system

There is growing evidence that suggests that dandelions can help boost the immune system.

Researchers have found that dandelions show both antiviral and antibacterial properties. For example, one 2014 study found that dandelions help limit the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells in test tubes.

More research is now required to determine the impact of dandelions on the immune system, however.

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Keeping skin healthy

Some research indicates that dandelion may help protect the skin from sun damage.

Ultraviolet (UV) light causes considerable damage to the skin and contributes to skin aging. A 2015 study on skin cells in a test tube found that dandelion could reduce the impact of one type of damaging UV light.

Protecting the skin from UV damage can help a person look younger for longer. Research in humans is needed to verify these results.

May Support Healthy Bones

Very little research has been conducted on dandelion’s effect on bone health, though some of its individual nutritional components contribute to the maintenance of strong, healthy bones.

Dandelion greens are a good source of calcium and vitamin K — both of which are associated with the prevention of bone loss.

Inulin, a fiber found in dandelion root, may also support healthy bones through improved digestion and the promotion of healthy gut bacteria

Possible Risks and Side Effects

Dandelion have low toxicity and are likely safe for most people. They can cause allergic reactions in some and may interact negatively with certain medications, particularly diuretics and antibiotics.

Dandelion have low toxicity and are likely safe for most people, especially when consumed as a food in its whole form.

However, keep in mind that research is still very limited and its use is not 100% risk-free.

Dandelion can cause allergic reactions, particularly in people with allergies to related plants like ragweed. Contact dermatitis can also occur in people with sensitive skin.

Dandelion may interact unfavorably with some medications, especially certain diuretics and antibiotics.

If you’re taking any prescription medications, always consult your healthcare provider prior to taking dandelion.

How to Prepare

Fresh, young dandelion greens can be added to salad mixes. Dandelion blooms may also be eaten fresh or boiled, cooked in fritters, pickled, or used to make wine or jelly.

Cooking mature dandelion greens in boiling water for 10 minutes will reduce bitterness. Roots that are 2 years old may be roasted and ground for use as a coffee substitute.

Summary

Dandelion are not a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, especially with regard to disease prevention and treatment.

Yet, they could be a unique and nutritious addition to your wellness routine.

Dandelion have the potential to provide some therapeutic health benefits — but don’t count on it. Research on specific applications for dandelion is lacking, especially in human studies.

Dandelion are unlikely to cause harm, as long as you’re not allergic or taking certain medications.

Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before adding a new herbal supplement to your diet.

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