Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dandelion Herb - A Great Source of Nutrition For Winter

Welcome to Healthy Intuitions!

Revered since earlier times, Dandelion herb is one of the most sought-after herbs to enliven our daily meals. Almost all the parts of the plant, leaves, flower tops, and root, are being used either for culinary purpose or as a curative remedy for certain medical conditions.

Botanically, it belongs to the family of Asteraceae; of the genus of Taraxacum and known scientifically as Taraxacum. There are many common names for this herb like priest's crown, Irish daisy, monk's head, blowball and lion's tooth.

Herb-dandelion is believed to be originated in the Central Asian region and become naturalized in many parts of the temperate and semi-tropical regions, including Mediterranean. It is a very hardy plant, grows vigorously everywhere in the fields, lawns and meadows. It features long stout taproots from which long-jagged dark-green leaves rise directly from the ground surface in radiating fashion.

Golden yellow color flowers arise at the end of hollow-stalks in late spring to early autumn. Its hollow flower stalks are filled with sweet-scented nectar, attracting bees. Flower-stalks rise straight from the root.

Fully-grown plant reaches about 45 cms in height. Almost all the plant parts exude milky navajo-white color latex from the inured site.

Dandelion root

The root is a stout, fusiform, and fleshy, dark brown externally and white pulp inside somewhat appears like yam. It contains bitter milky latex; more concentrated than in stems and leaves. Roots are generally dug when the plant turns into second year of life. In general, roots are harvested in summer for medicinal purposes or autumn for drying and grinding for COFFEE.

Dandelion herb health benefits

Fresh dandelion greens, flower tops, and roots contain valuable constituents that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.

Fresh leaves are very low in calories; providing just 45 calories, it is also a good source of dietary fiber, and in addition, its latex is a good laxative. These active principles in the herb help reduce weight and CONTROL CHOLESTEROL levels in the blood.

Dandelion root as well as other plant parts contains a bitter crystalline compound called Taraxacerin. The root also contains inulin (not insulin) and levulin. Together, these compounds are responsible for various therapeutic properties of the herb.

Fresh dandelion herb provides 10161 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 338% of daily-recommended intake, one of the highest source of vitamin-A among culinary herbs. Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant, required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and vision.

Its leaves are packed with numerous HEALTH BENEFITING flavonoids such as carotene, carotene-α, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotene) helps body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Zeaxanthin has photo-filtering functions and protects retina from UV rays.

The herb is good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps regulate heart rate and BLOOD PRESSURE. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme.

It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin -E and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Dandelion greens provide 58% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin-C.

Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has an established role in the TREATMENT OF ALZHEIMER'S disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Dandelion herb contains notable NUTRIENTS and is a great source of nutrition during winter.

This humble backyard herb provides:
9% of dietary fiber
19% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine)
20% of Riboflavin
58% of vitamin C
338% of vitamin A
649% of vitamin K
39% of iron
19% of calcium

Selection and storage

Oftentimes fresh dandelion greens are gathered from the wild, but the herb is better selected from known source. Actually, in many parts of the Mediterranean it is grown as annual crop by sowing in spring or sometimes as garden herb.

In the markets look for fresh, succulent, soft young leaf tops. Fresh leaves are superior in flavor and rich in many vital vitamins and anti-oxidants like ß-carotene, vitamin C and folates. Once at home store the greens in plastic bags and store in vegetable compartment as in spinach, kale etc.

Preparation and serving methods

Fresh greens and flower tops have been used in cooking. Generally pre-washed greens are blanched in boiling water for a minute or so and cooled immediately by plunging into cold water. Blanching reduces bitterness.

Here are some serving tips:
1.Young tender shoots, raw or blanched, used in salads and sandwiches either alone or in combination with other greens like lettuce, kale, cabbage, chives, etc.

2.Fresh greens may also used in soups, stews, juices, and as cooked vegetable.

3.Dried leaves as well as flower parts used to make tonic drinks and herbal dandelion teas.

4.Dandelion flowers used in the preparation of wines, schnapps, pancakes; and are favored in Arab baking. Dandelion root is also used in Japanese cooking.

5.Lightly roasted and grounded roots used to make wonderfully flavorful dandelion COFFEE.

Medicinal uses:

Almost all the parts of dandelion herb found place in various traditional as well in modern medicine.

The principle compounds in the herb have LAXATIVE and diuretic functions.

The plant parts have been used as herbal remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints.

The herb is also a good tonic, appetite stimulant and is a good remedy for dyspeptic complaints.

The inside surface of the flower stems used as a smoothing agent for burns and stings (for example in stinging nettle ALLERGY)

Safety profile

Although dandelion herb contains some bitter principles, it can be safely used in healthy individuals without any reservations. However, in patients on potassium sparing diuretic therapy, it may aggravate potassium toxicity. Dandelion herb can also induce allergic contact dermatitis in some sensitive individuals. (Medical disclaimer).

Intuitively Yours,
Laurel xoxo

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