Dandelion Greens Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Dandelion greens annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most of us would never consider cooking up weeds from our garden, so the idea of eating dandelion greens may seem strange. Though considered by many to be a weed, technically, dandelion (Taraxacum) is an herb. In fact, every part of the plant is edible and rumored to provide various health benefits. Dandelion greens are packed with health-promoting nutrients that might have you thinking twice about this ubiquitous yellow flower.

Dandelion Greens Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (55g) of raw dandelion greens.

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 42mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.1g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Sugars: 0.4g
  • Protein: 1.5g

Carbs

Fresh dandelion greens provide just 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup with about 2 grams coming from fiber. They're naturally very low in sugar.

Fats

Dandelion greens are not a significant source of fat on their own, but fat may be added during preparation.

Protein

A cup of fresh dandelion greens has 1.5 grams of protein. Like most plants, dandelion greens don't provide all of the body's essential amino acids, so it's important to consume a variety of protein foods to meet your dietary needs.

Vitamins and Minerals

Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A, C, and K and also provide the mineral calcium. They also provide some potassium, iron, folate, and magnesium.

Health Benefits

Dandelion greens are a nutritious vegetable, filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Here's what you stand to gain by adding dandelion greens to your grocery list.

Protects Vision

A cup of raw dandelion greens provides 279 micrograms of retinoid activity equivalents (RAE); the recommended dietary allowance is 700–900 micrograms for most adults. Dandelion greens can help reach this general requirement, but it's worth noting the special forms of vitamin A also present: lutein and zeaxanthin. Because lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina, they are particularly beneficial in preventing age-related macular degeneration.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

Dandelion roots have several bioactive compounds that work collectively against type 2 diabetes symptoms. For instance, dandelions are rich in inulin, a type of fiber that's been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels. They also contain chlorogenic acid which impacts both the secretion of and sensitivity to insulin. Furthermore, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of dandelion may protect against long-term complications of type 2 diabetes (like heart disease).

Promotes Wound Healing

The vitamin C and vitamin K in dandelion greens both come in handy in the event of an injury. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting to prevent excessive loss of blood. Vitamin C is a precursor to collagen, which helps the body rebuild skin for wound repair. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system in preventing infections.

May Improve Heart Health

In studies on rabbits, dandelion is effective at reducing triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL (good cholesterol levels). Although more human studies are needed to prove cause and effect, the nutrients in dandelion greens are promising for human heart health. Dandelion contains potassium which is known to reduce blood pressure. Dandelions are naturally low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. They're also a good source of heart-healthy vitamins like folate and vitamin C.

May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

In limited in-vitro (test tube) research, dandelion root extract has been shown to promote the death of colon cancer cells without causing harm to healthy surrounding cells. Although more research in humans is needed, dandelion root has the potential to kill cancer cells that have become resistant to drug treatment. Because dandelion root is generally non-toxic, it may be a good adjunct intervention to support conventional cancer therapy.

Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), if you are allergic to other members of the Compositae family (such as artichokes, ragweed, or chamomile), you may experience an allergic reaction to dandelion. Symptoms can include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or heartburn.

Dandelion has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in children after handling the plant. Latex allergies can also be triggered by dandelion sap. If you suspect an allergy to dandelion, contact your physician for a full evaluation.

Adverse Effects

Dandelion greens are likely safe for most people when consumed in amounts typically found in food. It is unknown, however, whether dandelion greens are safe for consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Dandelions show estrogenic activity with the potential to increase the growth of cancer cells that are hormone-sensitive. The efficacy of blood thinners can also be affected by the vitamin K in dandelion greens. Because of dandelion's diuretic effects, it may interfere with lithium or water pills. People who take diabetes medication, immunosuppressive agents, or cytochrome P450 substrate drugs should speak to their doctor before eating dandelion.

Anyone who follows a low FODMAP diet for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should be aware that dandelion greens contain inulin, a fructooligosaccharide that may cause flare-ups for those who are sensitive to it.

When It's Best

Many grocery stores now carry dandelion greens because of their increased popularity. Farmer's markets, health food stores, and organic markets also tend to carry them. Look for fresh, bright green leaves with minimal blemishes. Dandelion roots and blooms are best when still young and tender in early Spring.

Storage and Food Safety

Foraging dandelion from your yard or public spaces is not recommended. It is hard to know what these greens have been exposed to or sprayed with. To be safe, consume dandelion greens that are grown exclusively for human consumption.

Wash dandelions well under running water as soon as you bring them home. Look for bugs and soil that may be stuck to the undersides. Store clean dandelion greens in the refrigerator the same way that you would store other fresh greens. A large bowl covered in plastic wrap or in a sealed plastic bag with a paper towel inside will help keep dandelion greens fresh for longer by absorbing moisture. Cook or consume within 3–5 days, but always discard greens that show visible signs of decay.

How to Prepare

Fresh, young dandelion greens can be added to salad mixes. Dandelion blooms may also be eaten fresh or boiled, cooked in fritters, pickled, or used to make wine or jelly.

Cooking mature dandelion greens in boiling water for 10 minutes will reduce bitterness. Roots that are 2 years old may be roasted and ground for use as a coffee substitute.

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