(This will be the first post in a series that will outline some common “weeds” that are not only edible, but nutritious as well!)
Did you know that you can eat dandelions? Yes, those plants with the yellow flowers that turn into “wishes” when they seed! Stop removing them from your lawn, make the neighbors do a double-take, and start eating these delicious plants! I particularly enjoy the greens in soups and stews. I rinsed and tore up this bunch of loveliness and tossed it in my pot of beef stew tonight:
It was very tasty!
All parts of the dandelion are edible and have medicinal and culinary uses. It has long been used as a liver tonic and diuretic. In addition, the roots contain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion. Dandelion roots can be harvested during any frost-free period of the year and eaten raw, steamed, or even dried, roasted and ground into a coffee substitute. The flowers are best known for their use in dandelion wine, but they also can be added to a salad, made into jellies or dipped in batter to make dandelion fritters. The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised. For use in salads, greens should be harvested from new plants while still small and tender, before the first flower emerges. Larger greens tend to be tougher and more bitter, and better suited for cooking.
Dandelions are very nutritious, containing significant amounts of many vitamins and minerals; they are extremely high in Vitamin K.
This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.
One cup of raw dandelion greens contains 535% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin K! Before you get scared, let’s think about this for a minute, because that fact threw me for a loop, too!
If you can eat a cup of dandelion greens without some toxic overload of Vitamin K, then why exactly is the daily recommended value so incredibly low? I did a little reading…
Without vitamin K, blood coagulation is seriously impaired, and uncontrolled bleeding occurs. Low levels of vitamin K also weaken bones and promote calcification of arteries and other soft tissues.
An] at-risk group for deficiency were those subject to decreased production of K2 by normal intestinal microbiota, as seen in broad spectrum antibiotic use. Taking broad-spectrum antibiotics can reduce vitamin K production in the gut by nearly 74% in people compared with those not taking these antibiotics.
Vitamin K1 is found chiefly in leafy green vegetables such as dandelion greens (which contain 778.4 μg per 100 g, or 741% of the recommended daily amount), spinach, swiss chard, lettuce and Brassica (e.g. cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts) and often the absorption is greater when accompanied by fats such as butter or oils; some fruits, such as avocado, kiwifruit and grapes, are also high in vitamin K. By way of reference, two tablespoons of parsley contain 153% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K.…Colonic bacteria synthesize a significant portion of humans’ vitamin K needs; newborns often receive a vitamin K shot at birth to tide them over until their colons become colonized at five to seven days of age from the consumption of their mother’s milk.
Although allergic reaction from supplementation is possible, no known toxicity is associated with high doses of the phylloquinone (vitamin K1) or menaquinone (vitamin K2) forms of vitamin K, so no tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been set.
Let me sum all that up:
1) People with low levels of Vitamin K are prone to calcification of arteries.
2) Taking broad-spectrum antibiotics can greatly reduce your gut’s ability to produce Vitamin K2.
3) There is no known toxicity of Vitamin K ingested via food.
Basically, I believe that the average American ingests far too little Vitamin K, coupled with being prescribed far too many broad-spectrum antibiotics. As a result, we see calcification of soft tissues in the body, which is a major contributing factor in many common diseases, including heart disease, strokes, kidney stones, osteoarthritis, and tendinitis. Here’s what I found about those particular diseases:
People with arterial calcifications are more likely to develop heart disease, but it’s unclear whether calcified plaque is more likely than soft plaque to rupture and cause a heart attack.
In most patients who undergo brain CT scans, for whatever reason, the carotid (neck) and vertebral (spine) arteries show signs of calcification. These calcifications may be an independent risk factor for stroke: a 2007 study found that calcifications are especially common in people who have had a clot-related (ischemic) stroke.
According to research at Harvard, people prone to kidney stones excrete about one-third more of their calcium intake in urine than people who don’t have kidney stones. They may be absorbing more dietary calcium and thus excreting more, or they may be losing calcium from their bodies, which raises their risk for low bone density as well as kidney stones.
Calcium-containing crystals are found in 60% of knee joints undergoing replacement surgery for osteoarthritis.
Calcium can also accumulate in tendons — especially the rotator cuff tendons of the shoulder — creating a condition called calcific tendinitis. The accumulation seems to occur where there is some kind of tissue damage or cellular change, although traumatic injury or overuse is not necessarily involved.
Ok, call me crazy all you want, but I don’t see how all that can be a coincidence! Draw what conclusions you will from my brief research here, but personally, I plan to seriously up my intake of Vitamin K.