Dandelions are Great for Your Health

By pjain      Published June 25, 2020, 7:53 p.m. in blog Gardening   

--- Dandelions

Wildlife and Birds

Dandelions are great wildlife plants. Their seeds and foliage are eaten by at least 33 species of wildlife.

Chipping, field, house, song and white-throated sparrows, American goldfinches, and indigo buntings are but a few of the many songbirds that devour dandelion seeds. Dandelions also show up in the diets of bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, rabbits, white-tailed deer and eastern chipmunks. If you watch sparrows eat dandelion seeds, you find the birds snip off the frilly parachutes before devouring the seeds themselves. Birds such as the ruby-throated hummingbird weave dandelion seeds into their tiny nests.

93 species of insects collect nectar from dandelion flowers. These nectar feeders include bees, and butterflies such as sulphurs, cabbage whites, admirals and commas.

History and Spread across the World

This is a plant that has fed and healed mankind for thousands of years and eaten because they were thought are delicious. Before the invention of lawns, the golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves were more likely to be praised as a bounty of food, medicine and magic. Gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for the dandelions.

In China, it is called Nail in the Earth.

They were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Throughout Europe, it has also gone by a number of other colorful names such as Irish Daisy, Peasant’s Cloak and Devil’s Milk Plant. Dandelion leaves have long been eaten. The dark green leaves and sliced roots are often served on buttered white bread. Dandelion flowers are dipped in batter and fried to make a tasty dessert. - During the War Between the States, Confederate soldiers used dried dandelion roots as a substitute for coffee.

To American forefathers, the dandelion was a valuable source of medicine and food, and could even be used to make wine and beer.

Dandelion Resources

Medical Benefits

Nutrition - Are they healthy for humans?

Nutritionists now tell us the plant is also a great source of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids, as well as vitamins A, B, C, D and K. They also contain vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins. Dandelion greens provide a substantial amount of several minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

In fact, the dandelion contains 25 times more vitamin A than tomato juice.

It was considered a natural medicine chest. It earned this reputation because it was commonly used to help relieve arthritis and as a laxative. The plant’s milky sap has been employed to remove pimples and warts. Other medicinal uses of the plant include improving appetite, and treating heart and liver diseases, gallstones and jaundice.

Contain Potent Antioxidants

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.

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

  1. Beta-carotene. Dandelion contain high levels of this antioxidant, which is known to provide strong protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress (3Trusted Source).

  2. Polyphenols are found in the highest concentration in the flower but are present in the roots, leaves and stems as well. Polyphenols in dandelions help reducing inflammation which are byproducts of diseases of various kinds and Covid-19.

Anti-inflammatory and May Boost Your Immune System

Inflammation is one of your body’s natural responses to injury or illness. Over time, excessive inflammation can lead to permanent damage to your body’s tissues and DNA.

Some test-tube studies have revealed significantly reduced inflammation markers in cells treated with dandelion compounds. Polyphenols in dandelions help reducing inflammation which are byproducts of diseases of various kinds and Covid-19.

A study in mice with artificially induced inflammatory lung disease showed a significant reduction of lung inflammation in those animals that received dandelion- NIH Study.

Dandelion Helps Aid in Blood Sugar Control

Chicoric and chlorogenic acid are two bioactive compounds in dandelion. They’re found in all parts of the plant and may help reduce blood sugar.

Test-tube and animal studies show that these compounds can improve insulin secretion from the pancreas while simultaneously improving the absorption of glucose (sugar) in muscle tissue.

This process leads to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels NIH study link.

In some animal studies, chicoric and chlorogenic acid limited the digestion of starchy carbohydrate foods, which may also contribute to dandelion’s potential ability to reduce blood sugar.

Dandelion Promote a Healthy Liver

Animal studies have found that dandelion have a protective effect on liver tissue in the presence of toxic substances and stress.

One study revealed significant protection of liver tissue in mice exposed to toxic levels of acetaminophen (Tylenol). Researchers attributed this finding to dandelion’s antioxidant content (13Trusted Source).

Other animal studies have shown that dandelion extract may reduce levels of excess fat stored in the liver and protect against oxidative stress in liver tissue (4Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

However, the same results should not be expected in humans due to differences in human and animal metabolism.

Further research is needed to determine how dandelion impact liver health in humans.

Dandelion Reduce Cholesterol

Some of the bioactive compounds in dandelion may lower cholesterol, which may decrease heart disease risk.

One animal study resulted in dramatically reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in mice that were treated with dandelion extract Study.

A rabbit study evaluated the impact of adding dandelion roots and leaves to a high-cholesterol diet. Rabbits that received dandelion had noticeably reduced cholesterol levels.

Though these outcomes are intriguing, more research is needed to determine dandelion’s potential effects on cholesterol in humans.

May Lower Blood Pressure

Some people claim that dandelion may reduce blood pressure, but supporting evidence is limited.

Traditional herbal medicine practices use dandelion for their diuretic effect based on the belief that this can detoxify certain organs.

In Western medicine, diuretic medications are used to rid the body of excess fluid, which can lead to lowered blood pressure.

  1. NATURAL DIURETIC. One human study found dandelion to be an effective diuretic. However, this study was done over a short period and involved only 17 people NIH Study.

Dandelion contain potassium, a mineral associated with lowered blood pressure in those with previously elevated levels. Thus, dandelion may have an indirect effect on blood pressure due to their potassium content.

It’s important to keep in mind that this effect is not unique to dandelion but applies to any potassium-rich food consumed as part of a healthy diet.

Watch for Allergies

  1. If you are allergic to any plant in the Asteraceae family (this includes chrysanthemums, chamomile, and ragweed) or if you have a honey allergy, do not drink dandelion tea.

  2. You could develop mouth sores similar to cankers.

  3. Dandelion also lowers blood sugar levels so anyone with diabetes or taking blood sugar medication should steer clear of dandelion tea.

Harvesting and Eating

Harvesting - Bitterness - choose your taste

Control Dandelions by Eating Them!

Avoid picking dandelions near roadsides or other areas where they may have absorbed pollution or pesticides.

Dandelions are best harvested in the spring when the shoots are young and tender. Dandelion greens are bitter and get increasingly bitter with age (pick the young greens prior to flowering for the most mild flavor).

However, this bitter quality aids digestion, and as such, many meat recipes call for a side dish of dandelion greens to help digest the heavy meal.

Dandelion Roots MUST be used

The root of the dandelion is rich in the carbohydrate inulin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in plants that supports the growth and maintenance of a healthy bacterial flora in your intestinal tract.

Dandelion root can be dried and roasted and used as a substitute for, or addition to, coffee. The root can also be peeled and cooked like a turnip. Dandelion root is often dried and consumed as a tea but can also be eaten in its whole form.

Dandelion Tea and Coffees

Dandelion tea has been used to treat heartburn and as an energy tonic. Dandelion root is often dried and consumed as a tea but can also be eaten in its whole form.

It can relieve constipation, help with various digestive disorders and relieve indigestion. It also helps to dissolve gallstones and has properties capable of helping improve kidney function.

How to Eat Greens

Dandelion leaves are known to be slightly bitter and have a spicy quality similar to arugula. As such, they are great in salads, on sandwiches or steamed and served like any other leafy green. Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw.

Young dandelion leaves are among the most nutritious you’ll find of any leafy green, and can be used in a salad, on a pizza, or in a pesto. Mature leaves can be sauteed or added to soups and stews.

Dandelion chips

You can make them like kale chips!.

Soups

There are many dandelion recipes including cream of dandelion soup, dandelion syrup, and dandelion wine.

Dandelion Gardening tips

Leave the roots in the ground. As a perennial plant they will often regrow, or eventually decay and enrich the soil food web.

Control Spread in Gardens

To control or maintain their spread, cut the plants back before the seeds disperse into the wind. Tuck them under the mulch for a tidier garden, or let the plants compost in situ.

Composting Yard Waste to Prevent dandelions

Dandelions also make great compost heap additions, but they can go to seed even after they’re picked INSIDE compost pile. If you don’t want dandelions throughout your yard, turn the compost regularly so the heat of the mound can kill the seeds.

How they help or hurt Lawns

Before the invention of lawns, the golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves were more likely to be praised as a bounty of food, medicine and magic. Gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for the dandelions.

Now, most Americans think Dandelions to be nothing more than a lowly weed; a weed so terrible that, in the minds of many, it should be eliminated at all costs.

Help gardens in droughts

Dandelions protect the soil just by growing: the roots hold the soil together to help prevent wind and water erosion. Since the plants grow so quickly, they spread widely to cover bare soil and act as a natural mulch by providing shade and conserving moisture.

Why they are so tough

A perennial, dandelions have a long taproot that are brittle, and can go down 2' into the ground. So it is really hard to get rid of them.

Its leaves that rest on or close to the ground. This hinders other plants from growing nearby.

Its bright yellow flowers are displayed on hollow stems. On bright, sunny days, dandelion blossoms open by 8 a.m. and begin closing by 1 p.m. Flowers often remain closed during rainy or cloudy weather. Its bright yellow flower. Yet what we call a flower is actually not a single flower at all. It is composed of 50 or more individual blooms. When the plant’s seeds mature, they are equipped with delicate parachutes. When dislodged by the wind or an animal, these parachute-equipped seeds can drift for long distances. This allows dandelions to colonize sites far from the parent plant.

Dandelions aerate and condition distressed soil. The long, strong taproots of dandelions push through into dry, cracked, compacted earth, helping to break it up, create channels for air and water to penetrate, and maintain a loose soil structure that allows earthworms to do their work.

The plants draw calcium, iron, and potassium from deep in the earth into their leaves. When they die and decompose, they leave behind mineral-rich organic matter that nourishes the soil.


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