Soon (and I agree, it can’t come fast enough) the snow will melt to reveal a variety of greens and colourful flowers announcing the arrival of this long awaited Season. Of all Spring flowers, the most pervasive and perhaps dreaded is the Dandelion.
Dandelions are seemingly ineradicable. They can flood your lawn, survive between cracks in a sidewalk and take root in the smallest places. We use pesticides, lawn mowers and the more labour intensive garden hoe to attempt to wipe them out. The fact is that dandelions are as healthy as they are hardy. Among numerous health benefits, they help improve liver function. Pesticides on the other hand and lawn mowers (which cause more pollution than cars) are directly toxic to the liver (using a garden hoe is obviously most environmentally friendly, but poses a greater risk of muscle injury and pain!)
So if we can’t make these pesky flowers go away, how can we use them?
All parts of a dandelion can be consumed. The root is used to treat conditions such as anemia, kidney disease, jaundice, respiratory infections and gallstones. It is high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that help prevent tumor growth. Half a cup of dandelion leaves contain more calcium than a serving of milk! In fact, about half of cup (100g) of leaves contain a host of wonderful nutrients:
9.2g carbs; 2.7g protein; 3.1mg iron; 397 mg potassium; 187mg calcium; 36mg magnesium; 14,000 IUs Vitamin A; 66mg phosphorus.
The best tasting dandelions are the ones picked before they are flowered, generally in April to May (Less than 4 weeks away!). Take caution in where you collect dandelions to avoid unwanted toxin exposure. Choose ones that are far from the roadside, in a pesticide-free yard, field or wooded area. Of course dandelion root and leaves can also be found at the market and is available as teas, tinctures or capsules.
So pick up a fork and enjoy these nutritious greens instead of exterminating them!
For recipe ideas and additional information on the many health benefits of dandelions, please contact
Dr. Vincenza Rotulo N.D.