Move over Kale...it's Dandelion's turn
They may not have reached the same level of viral as their kale sisters, but these nutrient-packed greens are on their way to kicking their spinach sisterhoods out of the fridge. With their recent addition to the "superfood" list, these spikey leaved delights (their latin name Taraxacum official translates as "lion tooth") are guaranteed to bring more benefits to your dish and body than any other leaf.
The detoxing dandelion - the Native Americans used the very powerful dandelion leaf as a tea to support toxic elimination by the liver, and this action can be seen in many recent studies too. The liver's detox processes require specific nutrients in order to efficiently eliminate toxins, and the dandelion leaves provide a hefty load, including vitamins A, B, C and K and glutathione. These are coupled with its phytonutrient antioxidants that fight toxic inflammation and cell degeneration, leading to healthy skin, energy, hair and mood.
The fiery fat buster - The use of these leaves has also been associated with the breakdown of fats in the liver and a reduction in insulin resistance. The use of dandelion leaf extract on mice studies has shown these leaves to have protective affects against cirrhosis of the liver and Non-Alcoholic Liver disease.
The dandelion also initiates the release of bile, the important substance that breaks down the many metabolism and skin boosting nutrients stored within fat globules, thereby promoting a healthy digestion and elimination of toxins.
The bitter bowel mover - With 3.5g in a typical serving, these greens don't seem too high in fibre, however their stimulus of bile, plus their huge Vitamin C content means they have been associated with healthy bowel movement. Try it yourself and see if it works...
The inflammation fighter - If you've ever used a dandelion leaf on a stinging nettle sting, you'll know the dandelion leaf is a miracle anti-inflammatory agent. This is because the juice from the dandelion leaf is full of inflammation-busting nutrients such as potassium, calcium, manganese and iron, helping bloating, water retention and blood pressure, IBS and PMS.
So why are these wonderful medicinal greens so undersold? Very simply, these leaves are bitter - hence mostly being used as "detoxing teabags" for those prepared to compromise taste for health. However, with the rise of the "wild eating" craze, we are seeing more of these coming into our facourite kitchen recipes and they are great accompaniments. Use them in a “green smoothie” to counteract their bitterness with some fruity favourites such as bananas, pineapple or mangos. Alternatively, try a dandelion pesto with pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and cold pressed olive oil.