Dandelion greens are my absolute favorite smoothie green. Not only do they provide a higher amount of calcium and iron than most cultivated greens, they have a wide array of health benefits that make them THE perfect all around nutritional boost.
Use them in any of my green smoothies recipes to ramp up your mineral intake and health benefits!
Here are ten reasons you should use dandelion greens in your next green smoothie:
#1 – High in Calcium
Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup (55 grams) of raw, chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams (10% of the recommended daily value) of calcium! That’s slightly more than kale!
Add two to three cups of dandelion to a smoothie with calcium-rich fruits like orange, kiwi, fig, or papaya and you’ll have a green smoothie that has more calcium than any dairy product!
#2 – Rich in Iron
Next to fresh parsley, dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup of raw, chopped dandelion leaves contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.
#3 – Low Calories
Like all leafy greens, dandelions are low in calories. One cup of chopped dandelion greens has only 25 calories.
While leafy greens are a low calorie food, I actually prefer to use dandelions because they have more calories than other greens per serving. Since I try to get as many calories as I can into my morning green smoothies, I add up to 3 cups of dandelion which adds 75 calories of nutrient-rich food!
#4 – Loaded With Antioxidants
Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.
#5 – The Ultimate Detox & Cleansing Green
If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver, and will facilitate the optimal functioning of your body’s natural detox organs.
#6 – Lots Of Minerals
Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they also provide copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA) per 1 cup, chopped (55 grams).
#7 – 14% Protein
Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein (not a lot, but they contribute to your overall protein intake).
#8 – Multivitamin Green
Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens also provide vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA), and are especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).
#9 – Free Food
If you live in an area where dandelions grow naturally, you can harvest them yourself for free!
Dandelion greens are best in the spring before the plant flowers. Save dandelion seeds so that you can cultivate them and have a steady supply. You’ll soon realize they are an asset in your yard, and not really a weed at all!
Caution: Never harvest dandelion greens from areas that have been treated with pesticides, or from industrial/urban lots that may be contaminated with heavy metals or other pollutants.
#10 – Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens
The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and stroke.
Studies also show that people who eat more leafy greens have a lower risk of developing diabetes.
Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
How To Use Dandelion Greens In A Green Smoothie
Dandelions are bitter, so it makes sense to blend them with fruit to mask the flavor. I recommend blending dandelion greens with sweet, flavorful fruits like bananas, strawberries, mangoes, citrus, and pineapple.
I use 2-3 cups (55 grams per cup) of raw, chopped greens in a single smoothie recipe.
If you are trying dandelion greens for the first time, start with a small handful, or 1 cup of chopped leaves.
How To Select And Store Dandelion Greens
While dandelion greens can be found at health food stores, co-ops, and farmers markets, they are probably widely available during the spring and early summer months in your own backyard.
Select unblemished, dark green leaves or bunches when purchasing them in the store. When foraging, young greens that are harvested before the flower head appears will be less bitter.
Commercially cultivated dandelion greens may have whitish/green or red stems. The leaves are highly perishable. I store them in the fridge in a large plastic tub with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture and condensation. They will keep for 2-4 days this way. If you store wet leaves in a produce bag, they will likely only last a couple days.
The dandelion greens that you find in the store are typically organic. If you forage for dandelion, be sure to harvest them from land that has not been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or other contaminants.
Avoid harvesting dandelion greens from urban or industrial waste lots as heavy metals (lead, mercury) and other pollutants in the soil might be absorbed into the plant.
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