Dandelion greens are something I try to get into my diet at least a few times a week. In fact I have learned to love and even crave the bitter greens. My favorite way to enjoy these bitter beauties is blended up in a spicy pesto. The pesto makes it east to add a few tablespoons to any meal and lets me add some other super foods like garlic and turmeric.
But Why Dandelion?
“The dandelion is a perennial plant with an almost worldwide distribution. While many individuals consider the dandelion to be an unwanted weed, herbalists all over the world have revered this valuable herb. Dandelion was planted in the medicinal gardens of monasteries and appears in the writings of the famous Arab physician Avicenna (980-1037C.E.) who used it to regulate menstruation and spoke of it as a sort of wile endive, under the name Taraxacum.”
“Dandelion’s calorie count is very low, one cup has only 25 calories, while its nutrient content is exceptionally high. It is particularly high in vitamins and minerals, protein, choline, inulin and pectin. Dandelion even has a higher vitamin A content than carrots. In addition, dandelion is an excellent source of vitamin C, riboflavin, B6, and thiamin, as well as calcium copper, manganese, and iron.”
Due to having a such high nutrient content dandelion has been knows to be useful in improving liver function, promoting weight loss, improving blood sugar control and assisting as a diuretic. All of these benefits can be summed up as a “toning” effect on the body.
So Why Enjoy This Bitter Green:
Our livers can always use some extra support. I learned this when I was getting off of the birth control pill and trying to get my body back to doing what it knows how to do. I had my naturopath inform me that years of being on fake estrogen could have clogged my liver. It didn’t help that I was also enjoying beer on a regular basis back then. Here are a few things than aren’t great for our liver:
Too much sugar, alcohol, NSAIDS, herbicides and pesticides. Unfortunately these things are around us all the time. I see people who drank too much the night before so they pop and advil the next morning. Little do they know they might be making their headache better but their liver is suffering. Eating organic is a great way to avoid chemicals that can harm our liver or cause hormonal stress but currently there is so much stuff out in our world that we are breathing and drinking it in on the regular. This is why it is a good idea for EVERYONE to support their liver.
So because this post ended up being more about the liver than dandelion greens I will end with a few simple tricks to keep your liver healthy.
- Eat a balanced diet. By balanced I mean MACROnutriens like protein, carbs and fats. This will keep your blood sugar from spiking and keep your liver from having to always settle extra glucose into itself.
- Stay away from pesticides and herbicides. Coffee and chocolate are two of the most heavily sprayed crops out there! Keep them organic! There is also the Dirty Dozen list to stay away from which includes; strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. If you buy these please buy organic!
- Support your liver with foods such as… you guessed it Dandelion! Drink the tea or eat the greens, whichever will get you to use the magic plant. There are also other herbs like milk thistle and schizandra that have been known to help.
- Stay away from NSAIDs unless absolutely necessary! They cause a lot of extra work for your lovely liver.
- Drink in MODERATION. Some wine has been seen as beneficial due to the antioxidants or because the people doing the study like the stuff. I love wine and I consume it regularly. I also make sure I am hydrated and I keep an eye on how much I am having.
There are a few other things you can do such as a coffee enema and a castor oil pack but I don’t really feel like getting into that stuff right now. If you think you have some damage control to do then we can talk. This post is just for everyday liver love!
*Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria. 2005