The 10 Health Benefits of Dandelion
The 10 Health Benefits of Dandelion
More than just a pesky weed, Dandelion is jam packed with nutrients and vitamins and provides a variety of potential health benefits. The dandelion plant is incredibly nutritious, an excellent source of vitamin A, B, C, D and K, and minerals iron, potassium, and zinc and has been eaten as food and a herb for centuries. For over a thousand years, the medicinal plant has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to improve the digestive system and reduce inflammation. Today, there are multiple potential health benefits of the dandelion plant and many reasons you should include it in your diet or supplement routine.
What parts of the Dandelion are used?
The entire dandelion plant can be eaten cooked or raw, but we get different benefits from each part:
- Dandelion Root - The root extract holds a lot of nutritional value and herbalists have used it in traditional medicine to help with liver detox.
- Dandelion Flowers - The flowers contain the antioxidant properties and may boost your immune system. Did you know you can fry the flowers in batter and make dandelion flower fritters?
- Dandelion Leaves - The dandelion leaf can assist with digestion and support blood sugar levels. Like spinach, you can sauté dandelion leaves and add to any dish.
Benefits of Dandelion Summary
Dandelion potential health benefits may:
- Support blood sugar regulation
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Aid blood pressure
- Have an anti inflammatory effect
- Aid a healthy digestion
- Assist in weight loss
- Support liver health
- Promote healthy bones
- Antioxidant properties reduce cell damage
- Boost the immune system
The Full Health Benefits of Dandelion
1. May support blood sugar regulation
Animal studies suggest the bioactive compounds aid the secretion of insulin which is a hormone to regulate the blood sugar levels. The research showed glucose was absorbed by the muscles at a higher rate to be used as energy.
Overall the study showed dandelion may normalize blood sugar levels.
2. May reduce cholesterol levels
High triglyceride and cholesterol levels are key risk factors for heart disease.
Animal studies showed dandelion leaf and root extract may reduce blood lipids, including triglyceride and cholesterol. However, more research is needed on the effects for humans.
3. May aid blood pressure
Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine as it seems to have a diuretic effect which works to help your kidneys release more sodium into the urine flow. Ridding the body of excess fluid can in-turn lower blood pressure.
The dandelion plant also contains the mineral potassium which is known to relax blood vessels and consequently reduce blood pressure.
4. Potentially has an anti inflammatory effect
More research needs to be completed onto this effect but the animal studies suggest so far that the chemicals in dandelion may have anti inflammatory properties. Our immune system responds to injury with inflammation to protect our cells, but long lasting inflammation can cause further damage. The studies showed dandelion reduced inflammation and may then relieve pain.
5. May aid a healthy digestion
Dandelion research shows it may increase bile flow, which is necessary for the digestion process and fat absorption.
It has also been used as a natural remedy for constipation, acting as a laxative to empty the bowels. It contains the prebiotic fibre which has been shown to reduce constipation and promote bowel regularity.
6. May assist in weight loss
Some studies show dandelion to improve carbohydrate metabolism and regulate fat absorption. We need a healthy carbohydrate metabolism to ensure our body uses it as energy rather than fat stores.
The studies have all been completed using animals and more research is needed on humans.
7. May support liver health
Animal studies have shown dandelion plant to affect the liver in a few ways.
One study concluded dandelion to reduce excess fat stored in the liver and protect against oxidative stress, which can cause liver injury.
Another study suggested dandelion root may help prevent liver disease by improving liver function and promoting bile production.
8. May promote healthy bones
Dandelion leaves are a rich source of calcium and vitamin K that support healthy bones. Studies show they can have a significant increase to bone density and overall bone health.
9. Antioxidant properties may reduce cell damage
Antioxidants can fight against free radicals formed in the body, which are free molecules that could cause damage to cells if the free radical levels get too high.
Dandelion is a great antioxidant which could regulate the free radical levels and reduce chances of them causing cell damage and chronic disease.
10. May boost the immune system
Some test tube studies suggest dandelion can help protect against harmful bacteria and significantly reduce the virus cells replicating. The more you are able to help your body protect against harmful bacteria, the greater your immune system will be.
How to take Dandelion
As covered at the beginning of this article, you can eat a full dandelion raw or cooked to get the health benefits. However, this may not be appealing to everyone so here are some different ways you can easily add dandelion into your daily diet.
Dietary supplements are a great way of breaching the gap in nutrients you are unable to get from your food. Dandelion supplements comes in form of capsules, tablets or dried powder.
Dandelion is often used within a supplement formula and mixed with complimentary vitamin and herbs such as milk thistle, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
You can fry or sauté dandelion leaves, just like spinach or other leafy greens.
You can boil or fry a dandelion flower and even make fritters for a delicious dish.
Dandelion root extract
You can buy dandelion root extract to add into hot or cold drinks and still gain the health benefits of dandelion.
Drinking dandelion tea is a great way to get the health benefits of dandelion. You can purchase dandelion tea from some supermarkets or make your own by roasting dandelion root.
Dandelion root tea has been known as a natural alternative to coffee as it has a slight taste similarity.
Fresh Leaf Juice
You can make fresh leaf juice daily just like any other green smoothie, jam pack your blender with nutritious green dandelion goodness.
Can I eat dandelion from my garden?
Yes, you can pick and eat dandelion root and plant straight from your garden. However, never eat any plant that has been sprayed with fertiliser or weed killer chemicals. So, rather than trying to kill every pesky weed with chemicals, you could think about the nutritional value first.
Possible Side Effects of Dandelion
As with all herbs, vitamins and minerals, different side effects may affect different people:
- Allergic reactions
- Dermatitis in those with sensitive skin