Why You Should Turn Your Pesky Garden Weeds Into Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea has several promising health benefits, according to RDs.
Most consider dandelions as nothing more than a pesky garden weed, however, you may want to start reconsidering this common misconception. According to health experts, this modest flower boasts a wide array of nutrients and potential health benefits when consumed in tea form. Used in folk medicine for aiding digestion, detoxifying the liver and increasing vitamin intake, dandelion tea may be the perfect natural supplement to introduce into your daily routine.
In order to learn more about the health benefits of dandelions, we spoke to Angel Planells, MS, RDN, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. He says that “dandelions are highly nutritious, loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.” According to Planells, this healthful plant also has a good amount of Vitamin A, C, K, E, folate and smaller amounts of other B vitamins, as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Planells explains the digestive benefits of dandelion root that is “rich in inulin, which is a type of soluble prebiotic fiber that supports the growth and maintenance of healthy bacterial flora in the intestinal tract.” Soluble fibers dissolve in water and become gel-like, slowing digestion to help control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Planells also recommends consuming the root of the flower that contains fiber to increase intestinal movement for a healthier gut.
Planells says that dandelions contain antioxidants, including beta-carotene, which are beneficial for protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress. They also contain polyphenols, which may be helpful in fighting inflammation. "This plant can also potentially help detox and cleanse the liver by flushing unwanted toxins from the body," he says. "However, more conclusive research needs to be done on the subject to assess the long-term effects on humans."
Dandelions are also rich in potassium that may help reduce blood pressure by decreasing water retention. This plant can therefore act as a natural diuretic, increasing the amount of urine production, thus helping shed excess fluid from the system and reduce bloating. However, Planells suggests that those with any pre-existing kidney issues or that are taking certain medications (like diuretics or antibiotics) be wary of any potential drug interactions and should consult their healthcare provider with any questions or concerns before consuming dandelion tea.
In addition to dandelion tea made from the flowers, you can also consume the greens and roots of the plant as well. To prepare the tea, simply wash the flowers and leaves and steep in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes before straining. Using roasted dandelion roots, you can also prepare dandelion coffee that looks and tastes like the real deal minus the caffeine. This is a great alternative for those looking to indulge in a warm cup of "joe” without the buzz, any time of the day. In order to reduce food waste and maximize nutrient intake, you can also steam, boil, or roast the roots and sauté or make a salad with the greens.
Though it should be considered safe for most people, some may develop allergic reactions or contact dermatitis by touching or consuming the plant. Planells suggests that before you head to the garden to make your own dandelion tea, err on the side of caution by consulting your healthcare provider to ensure that it is right for you.