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Dandelion Greens

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Dandelion Greens Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 85.6 g
Calories: 45 kcal
Protein: 2.7 g
Carbohydrate: 9.2 g
Dietary fiber: 3.5 g
Sugars: 0.7 g
Fat: 0.7 g
Saturated fat: 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3 g
Vitamin C: 35 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.2 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.3 mg
Vitamin B3: 0.8 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.3 mg
Vitamin B9: 27 μg
Vitamin A: 508 μg
Vitamin E: 3.4 mg
Vitamin K: 778.4 μg
Calcium: 187 mg
Iron: 3.1 mg
Magnesium: 36 mg
Phosphorus: 66 mg
Potassium: 397 mg
Sodium: 76 mg
Zinc: 0.4 mg

Dandelions are best known as being attractive weeds, but weeds all the same. They are a gardener’s worst nightmare. What is less well known about dandelions however, is that they are entirely edible. Furthermore, they host a myriad of health benefits, particularly in the green parts of the plant – the dandelion greens.

High in vitamin K. Dandelion greens are extremely rich in vitamin K, with 55g containing a massive 535% of the RDA of the vitamin K. The body can store excess vitamin K in the liver for future use, so there is no need for concern regarding eating above the RDA if consumption does not occur every day.

Vitamin K is very important for a variety of bodily functions, but its main use is in blood clotting and strengthening bones (NHS, 2015). A review by Price, Langford and Liporace (2012) has shown that there is good evidence for vitamin K as an important factor in both bone synthesis and bone maintenance.

Can alleviate andropause symptoms. Andropause, also known as the male menopause, is a condition that affects all ageing males. It is characterised by a decline in both physical and mental prowess, and can significantly reduce sperm count. A study conducted in Korea by Noh et al (2013) assessed the effects of daily consumption of a dandelion and rooibos (legume) extract concoction on andropause symptoms in rats.

After four weeks, it was found that both testosterone and sperm count were significantly enhanced, and physical movement was markedly improved. Furthermore, oxidative stress of the cells which produce testosterone was significantly reduced, suggesting that the extract also has antioxidant properties.

Can fight Leukaemia. Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood cells, where the production of normal blood cells is significantly hampered. Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine to treat leukaemia, but a study by Ovadje et al (2011) confirmed that they are an excellent treatment for this disease.

They found that after treating leukemic cancer cells with a water-based solution of dandelion root extract, the body’s normal process of cell apoptosis occurred. They proposed that this happened because the dandelion induces the activation of caspase, a protein which triggers apoptosis.

Apoptosis refers to a process whereby the body causes cells to die (as oppose to cell death by external sources such as injury). In other words, dandelion root extract has been shown to encourage the body to kill the cancerous cells without the need for external assistance.

Promotes liver health. The liver is an organ which is vital for filtering out toxins in the body. It is important to keep the liver healthy, as a damaged liver can cause the body to become highly susceptible to infection, disease and death. In a study by Adbulrahman et al (2013), carbon tetrachoride (CCI4) intoxification of the liver was induced in rats.

CCI4 is a man-made solvent which can cause liver damage in high doses. When compared to no treatment, treatment with dandelion leaves water extract led to a significant reduction in serum markers which usually indicate significant damage.

This means that dandelion was able to very successfully protect the liver against damage, and restore normal function following intoxification. Previous studies have also shown that dandelion root is extremely effective at detoxification of the liver, which can improve its function and lifespan (Hu and Kitts, 2003).