What is Dandelion good for?

You may have heard that bee honey or plant syrups are unhealthy because they contain sugar. Moreover, there is mainly sugar in them. It makes bee honey the most caloric natural product. All those talks are far from the truth. Bee honey, dandelion honey, and plant syrups are healthy and worth to eat. What is unhealthy is when you are eating more than you need. That is, usually a cause of health problems.

In the picture above you see bee honey: dandelion honey, heather honey, goldenrod honey, rape honey, a dandelion syrup made by me, and some dried herbs that I was preparing for herb-infused honey. Go down the article to get more knowledge about the health benefits of dandelion Taraxacum officinale.

Dandelion is a nontoxic herb with many pro-healthy active compounds that protects the body against oxidative stress or inflammatory factors. Among them, you can find minerals and vitamins that can improve diet quality, diet nutrients density, and decrease energy density.

Dandelion and its food products consumption health benefits relate to its properties to modulate immune system functions and regulate glucose and lipid metabolism. As we know most diseases we are suffering are because of immune system malfunction and damageable oxidative stress.

Highlights

  • Dandelion is a source of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and non-nutritive plant compounds,
  • Dandelion consumption decreases oxidative stress, inflammatory processes, blood glucose, and blood lipids, and microbial and viral growth,
  • It is good for patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetic, arthritic patients and for oncologic patients,
  • It is digestive system friendly,
  • You can use the dandelion flower, leaves, or root to make a syrup (honey), tea, wine, and flavor components, salads, dietary drinks for digestion or herb beers, coffee, tincture, and flour.

What disease can a dandelion cure?

Dandelion is known from ancient times because of its valuable properties. It has a long traditional history in use to treat various diseases:

  • Liver and gallbladder disorders
  • Digestive issues,
  • Skin issues – inflamed skin,
  • Arthritic and rheumatic diseases.

All parts of the dandelion are completely edible as it is nontoxic herb both in fresh, raw and processed form. Thus you can use it for whatever you like in your kitchen. Many health benefits of dandelion are because it contains compounds like polyphenols, that have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

As oxidants attacks and damage cells and organs, they contribute to diseases or exacerbates existing ones. It is an issue in autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, cancers, and others.

Thus dandelion and its food products can be used in the treatment of diseases like:

  • Cardiovascular disease – atherosclerosis, hypertension,
  • Type II diabetes and pre-diabetes,
  • All other autoimmune diseases, eg. Hashimoto’s Disease

Dandelion can be used in a variety of conditions, because of hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-thrombotic, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties.

Antioxidative properties

Oxidants are produced naturally in the body and when the immune system can’t detoxify them, oxidative stress occurs. They can damage the DNA, protein, and lipids of the cell causing even natural death called apoptosis.

Antioxidants in dandelion have strong abilities to prevent their formation of them as well as for their detoxification. Thus preventing a variety of pathophysiological processes that yield to disease development or exacerbation.

You can get those benefits from the whole plant: flowers, leaves, and roots.

Nutrition facts for dandelion

Similarly to other food plants, the dandelion chemical composition may differ from plant to plant because of many factors impact like harvesting period and environmental conditions.

Especially, as said dandelion contains plenty of various phytochemicals that yield properties mentioned above. One of them is hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives, that have strong anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutrition value of flour from dandelion leaves

This data is based on analysis done in Argentina, near the city of San Luis from the material picked up before blossoming. These results were published in 2003 by Excudero et al. They found that the chemical composition of flour from dandelion leaves is similar to data obtained but others. However, there are small differences like slightly higher or lower protein content compared to other results.

Chemical composition and dietary fiber in flour from dandelion leaves

The good thing for a modern living person is the high dietary fiber content of 48g/100g of the product. Most of this is insoluble fiber (41g) and the ratio insoluble to soluble dietary fiber is 6.1. If you are living in a city, you probably should eat more dietary fiber than you are consuming right now. Most people fail at this.

You should aim to eat at least 25g of dietary fiber per day. If you are eating enough vegetables and fruit per day you should be fine. If not, consider the use of high-fiber containing flour in your diet like this one, or coconut flour for example.

Among other compounds, you can get as much as 15.5g of protein per 100g of dandelion leaves flour. In another study, scientists found an even higher amount of 22g of protein in 100g of flour. Carbohydrates here contain mainly dietary fiber and only 10g of total are digestible.

Thus the biggest benefit here you can get is high dietary fiber content. Although, protein content is quite high too. However, as studies on rats found, they don’t have the amino acids needed for the appropriate growth of studied animals. But, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t count them in your diet…

Proximate chemical composition of flour from leaves in g per 100g

  • Moisture in fresh basis – 91.5
  • Residual moisture – 8.2
  • Protein – 15.5
  • Ash – 14.5
  • Total carbohydrates – 58.4
  • Soluble dietary fiber – 6.7
  • Insoluble dietary fiber – 41.1
  • Total dietary fiber – 47.8

Vitamins and minerals in flour from dandelion leaves

Dandelion flour has a calcium to phosphorus proportion 1 to 1 which is within ranges of recommendation in RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances). What you could look at, especially is high magnesium content of 470 mg per 100g of product. That meets the daily need of an adult of both genders.

The other two vitamins, pro-vitamin A – β carotene and Vitamin C are also pointed out for an advantage of dandelion leaves flour.

Mineral and vitamin contents in flour from Taraxacum officinale leaves, mg/100g

  • Calcium 695
  • Total phosphorus 700
  • Potassium 2520
  • Magnesium 470
  • β carotene (vitamin A) 13
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) 53

Fatty acids  in flour from dandelion leaves

Fatty acids are making dietary fats. Here you can see the carbon atoms on the left column and the number of unsaturated carbons (carbons:unsaturated chemical bonds), the name of fatty acid, and the percentage proportion in the studies product.

What does it tell us? Unsaturated fatty acids consist of 68% of all fatty acids. That is good information for those, who already have a high level of saturated fatty acids. By replacing saturated fat in their diet with unsaturated ones, they’ll reduce cardiovascular disease development risk.

That is how it works, in many cases.

The fatty acid content of flour from Taraxacum officinale leaves in percentage

  • 16:0 Palmitic 27.58
  • 18:0 Stearic 4.18
  • 16:1 Palmitoleic 6.49
  • 18:1 Oleic 8.62
  • 18:2 Linoleic 18.48
  • 18:3 Linolenic 34.61

Dandelion leaves flour toxicity

In the study, researchers made a diet with dandelion flour that was given to the rats, and then, compared with results with the use of other diets. Though there are some lectins at an acceptable level that reduces the absorption capacity and bioavailability of some nutrients – you shouldn’t worry yourself about this.

A decrease in the absorption of nutrients can be made by dietary fiber. Though, it is not a bad thing in dandelion as all insoluble dietary fibers can make non-digestible compounds. They increase fecal matter volume and may increase the excretion of some compounds that you’d lie to absorb. Remember that your gut’s bacteria need this fiber as same as you need happy bacteria to stay healthy.

Generally, the dandelion plant is considered safe.

Nutrition value of raw dandelion leaves

If you look at the nutrition data (self.com) website, you’ll see that raw dandelion leaves are a good source of potassium (397mg/100g), calcium (138), and magnesium (50). Similarly to dandelion leaves flour – which is a concentrated product of the raw product.

From other products, there is manganese (0.3mg), copper (0.2mg), and iron (3.1mg) that should be mentioned. Thus if you eat a salad with 100g od dandelion leaves you’d provide, on average from 10 to 20% of your daily need of over mentioned minerals.

And that with 45 kcal provided, mainly from carbohydrates of which 3.5g is dietary fiber. The thing you need to know regarding vitamin content is the high vitamin K amount of 780mcg what easily fulfills your needs. Other ones are vitamin A (10160IU, International Units), and C (35mg).

Other ones, vitamins B like vitamin B1 (Thiamin, 0.2mg), B2 (Riboflavin, 0.3mg), B6 (Pyridoxal, 0.3mg) on average 10-20% of what you need every day. It may have also up of several dozen choline. It may be 5-10% of the amount you should eat daily.

In total, what is worth at dandelion leaves products are especially potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin c, vitamin b, and dietary fiber.

The bitterness of dandelions and choleretic effect

Dandelion has a bitter taste, that is why it is a great substitute for the rocket.

They contain a few groups of chemicals that are responsible for that and unique to the dandelion:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones,
  • Guaianolides, and
  • Esterified germacranolides acids.

Sesquiterpene lactones found in the dandelion root have a choleretic effect. Cholleretic means that they stimulate the bile duct to secrete more bile that is synthesized in the liver. Bile is the fluid that contains various toxins, cholesterol, and lipid digestive enzymes – thus is essential for dietary lipids digestion. People that had, for example, gallstones and had gallbladder removed have digestive problems after fats consumption.

Gall stones are formed when bile stays for too long in the gallbladder. The substances that are transported there are becoming higher in their concentration and finally are making tough complexes. Curcumin is one of the greatest choleretic agents.

It is similar to kidney stones. You have to drink enough amount of water to make your pee look slightly yellow. If you drink it as you got thirsty – you don’t drink enough of it. Like most people. But moreover, if your daily eating habits are equal to those we see in the modern world you probably have nutritional deficiencies. Here, I’m talking about vitamin B6 and magnesium. With that compilation, you are at high risk of developing kidney stones.

Dandelion root has been traditionally used to improve digestion, increase appetite, and relieve nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Dandelion root for digestion

Dandelion root choleretic effect is just one of the benefits you can have from its consumption. Another root compound, a glucoside of taraxic acid improves digestive processes too. It improves the secretory functions of the pancreas.

The Pancreas is an organ that during digestion releases pancreatic juices that digest food by digestive enzymes. It takes a part in breaking down all types of nutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the smaller molecules that can be absorbed through the gut wall.

Pancreas takes another part in food digestion by producing hormones. Two of them, gastrin and amylin influence stomach functions. The first one stimulates the stomach to make gastric acid, which lowers pH thus supporting protein digestion. The second one stimulates stomach emptying.

Another two hormones, insulin and glucagon are hormones that control glucose blood level. Some food products disrupt pancreas functions and your sugar blood level can increase. Dandelion has antidiabetic properties, thus is beneficial for diabetic patients.

Dandelion root and gut problems

One of the beneficial effects of dandelion root is inulin found in. Inulin is a fructan that is known to be the content of a root of chicory. It is a water-soluble dietary fiber that is undigestable by human enzymes and reaches the distal portion of the colon.

However, like with other types of dietary fibers inulin is digested by intestinal bacterias. Thus it is probiotic that you can use to feed your colon gut’s bacteria. Those are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli.

Remember, that inulin for some people is problematic and causes gastrointestinal discomfort. Thus they are feeling badly consuming some foods or supplements containing inulin. If you are one of those people choose leaves or dandelion flowers and give picked roots to your friends or family.

However, if you are all right with inulin you’ll protect your colon from cancer developing and yield antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. More of them is calcium absorption improvement. So if you have osteoporosis risk or in a need of more calcium – inulin is a great additive.

Inulin decreases inflammation of bowel thus is a good option for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. Or for those with constipation problems, as it is water-soluble, it increases the mass of feces and thus, easies defecation.

Dandelion root is great for obesity patients, diabetic patients, and people with systemic inflammation. It improves glucose and insulin metabolism, thus we could say, can be beneficial for most people.

The content of inulin in the dandelion root may differ highly depending on the time you pick it up. In the spring, it is low and consists only of 2% of total secondary plant compounds and increases highly during the time to 40% in autumn.

In summary, dandelion root represses obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, and inflammation.

Dandelion and cardiovascular health

Dandelion generally is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds thus is a great option for patients with cardiovascular diseases. Both leaves and petals (flowers) reduce lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation, and oxidation of thiol groups which are a result of oxidative stress. Results from studies done by polish scientists show, that flowers have stronger antioxidant properties than leaves.

Moreover, they have anticoagulant, anti-platelet properties. With other properties, hepatoprotective and hypolipemic effects, dandelion can be used for either treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Dandelion in the kitchen

Dandelion can be processed into various food products. You can use:

  • Dandelion flowers to make syrup, tea, wine, honey, and flavor component,
  • Leaves for salad, tea, dietary drinks for digestion and herb beers, tincture, and flour,
  • Dandelion root to make coffee, tea, and tincture.

The recommended dosages are:

  • 4-10g of crude dried leaves and roots per day,
  • 9-15mL of leaf and root tincture per day assuming 3 doses a day in the United States,
  • The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP) recommends 0.5-2g of root 3 times/day or 4-8mL of root tincture 3 times/day. For the leaves, BHP recommends 3-5g or 5-10mL of leaf tincture both 2 times/day,
  • Commission E monographs recommend 3-4g roots 2 times/day or 10-15 drops of tincture 3 times/day/ For the leaves, is 4-10g and 2-5 mL of tincture both 3 times/day.

With other herbs I made dandelion leaves salad which tastes good. However, I blended a few days old dandelion root and added flakes to the pesto. It had terrible taste, thus what I’d recommend is if you want to add dandelion root to any of your meals, try it aside with a small portion and check if you like it or not. I know, that dandelion root is not for me in the salads or pesto.

Conclusion

Dandelion is a plant that you can pick up freely, eat it raw, dry it, or process it in a way you like it. In any form, it is safe to eat as well as nutritious in some vitamins, especially vitamins B and minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Comparable to other plants, dandelion contains nonnutritious plant-compounds that have varieties of properties. Thus can be used as a multiway affecting metabolism food product. Some of the health benefits of dandelion consumption are the improvement of cardiovascular health or digestive system functions.

Sources & References

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