The buds and leaves of dandelion have been used for centuries in Asian and Mediterranean dishes. The roots are sometimes used as a non-caffeinated drink to replace coffee. Most notably grown in France, the dandelion is considered a weed.
Where are Dandelions Grown?
Dandelions are generally grown in large numbers for a food source in France. They can be grown anywhere as long as they are given proper care, fertilizer, and water. Dandelions can be seen growing in yards or along the side of the road but are not suitable for harvesting because they could be polluted with chemicals. Dandelions are best picked and eaten before the plant flowers.
How to Grow Dandelion
Dandelion seeds can be purchased at most garden stores and should be planted straight into the ground in rich, organically fertilized beds. There are three general types of dandelions that are grown as a food source; yellow, Italian dandelions, and red dandelions. Keep the dandelion bed covered in compost and fertilizer to produce a large and healthy crop. Plants should be at least six inches apart and should be checked often for disease. The outer leaves are harvested much like lettuce and can be used in salads. The entire plant can be harvested and used as a food source as well. Allow some of the plants to turn to seed in order to have seeds for your next season’s planting.
Nutrients Found in Dandelion
Dandelion is high in Vitamins C, A, and E. Vitamin C is essential to help build a strong and well functioning immune system while Vitamin A helps to protect the eyes from disease. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage. Dandelion is low in cholesterol and saturated fats and helps to support a healthy heart and protect it from disease. It is also a good source for fiber in the diet which helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Dandelions are a good source of calcium which is needed to ensure the health of bones and teeth.
Healthy Ways to Prepare Dandelion
To get the most nutrition from dandelions, add the leaves to salads and eat them raw. Most people cook dandelion along with other greens to greens, either steamed or boiled. The most tasty and beneficial way to cook dandelions is to steam them or use them in a stir fry with other vegetables.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Adding dandelions to your diet will give you a good supply of Vitamin A and according to a Harvard Medical School publication, Vitamin A is needed to help maintain healthy eyes and proper vision. It is also beneficial in fighting prostate cancer and is noted as an antioxidant which helps fight off free radicals that damage cells and are known to cause certain types of cancer. The benefits of dandelions in the diet also come from the high content of Vitamin C which helps to build a well functioning immune system and protects the body from harmful infections. This food is low in cholesterol and saturated fats which makes this food a heart healthy addition to your diet. Dandelions are rich in Vitamin E which has been said to help prevent the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is high in iron, which helps to ensure the health of red blood cells and high in Vitamin K, which helps to promote faster healing of wounds by enabling the blood to clot.