Why You Should Turn Your Pesky Garden Weeds Into Dandelion Tea

What’s dandelion tea good for? You’d be surprised.

Most consider dandelions as nothing more than a pesky garden weed, but it's time to reconsider 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.

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Nutrients Galore

"Dandelions are highly nutritious, loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals," says Angel Planells, MS, RDN, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. This healthful plant also has a good amount of vitamins A, C, K, and E, folate, and smaller amounts of other B vitamins. Plus: minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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Gut-friendly Prebiotic Fiber

Next up? This plant's got some serious digestive benefits. "Dandelion root 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," says Planells. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and become gel-like, slowing digestion to help control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Consume the fiber-rich root of the flower to increase intestinal movement for a healthier gut.

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Inflammation Fighter

Who doesn't love antioxidants—those powerhouse compounds that protect against cellular damage and oxidative stress? Like many healthy veggies, dandelions are full of them, including beta-carotene and polyphenols. Research is ongoing, but experts believe that they may be helpful in fighting inflammation. "This plant can also potentially help detox and cleanse the liver by flushing unwanted toxins from the body," Planells says.

RELATED: Red Alert: These Are the 4 Worst Foods That Cause Inflammation

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Natural Diuretic

The potassium in dandelions may also help reduce blood pressure by decreasing water retention. As a natural diuretic (making you urinate more), it helps you shed excess fluid from your system and reduces bloating.

One important caveat: Those with any pre-existing kidney issues or who are on certain medications (like diuretics or antibiotics) should be wary of potential drug interactions. Consult your doctor first if you're in that situation.

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Best Way to Consume Dandelions

A tea can be made from the dandelion's flowers, greens, and roots. Simply wash the flowers and leaves and steep them in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes before straining. You can also prepare dandelion coffee—that looks and tastes like the real deal, minus the caffeine—by using roasted dandelion roots. To reduce food waste and maximize nutrient intake, steam, boil, saute, or roast the roots. Or make a salad with the greens.

RELATED: 6 Heart-Healthy Reasons to Drink More Tea

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A Few Precautions

Dandelions are considered safe for most people, but some may develop allergic reactions or contact dermatitis by touching or consuming the plant. Planells suggests erring on the side of caution by consulting your healthcare provider to ensure that it is right for you.

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