Although you’d never guess by the abundance of these small yellow flowers in meadows and fields, dandelions are not native to North America. They were brought over as a cherished plant for its food and medicinal properties by English colonists, and the plant was found to thrive in the climates of the Northern Hemisphere.
The flowers, leaves and root of the dandelion plant can be used as a nutritious food or medicinal herb.
The leaves can be picked and used in salads or as a green vegetable. The young, spring greens from dandelions are good to eat fresh in salad, but as the plants and leaves get older, the center spine of the leaves get bitter, and so are most often blanched or cooked before eating.
The leaves have more iron and calcium than an equal serving of spinach. They also contain high levels of Vitamin C and A.
Dandelion flowers have most often been used to make dandelion wine., but the flower petals, removed from the stem, can be used to make dandelion tea. Simply remove the approximately a tablespoon of petals from the dandelion flowers, steep fresh in hot water for 5 minutes (or more) and serve with a bit of honey. Dandelion flower tea has been used to treat headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomach pain and depression.
The dandelion root can also be consumed, and it has some amazing health benefits. It can be dried and made into dandelion root tea, or the dried roots can be roasted and ground into a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The tea and coffee are both said to be great for tummy troubles. In fact, a Czech study found that dandelion-root tea stimulated 14 different strains of bacteria known to inhibit the growth of bugs linked to diarrhea.
A 100 gram serving of dandelion greens contain the following vitamins and minerals:
- Potassium 397 mg (11% RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance)
- Vitamin A 203% RDA
- Calcium 18% RDA
- Vitamin C 58% RDA
- Iron 17% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 15% RDA
- Magnesium 9% RDA
Dandelion Root May Cure Cancer