Nancy Dell: Dandelions: Weed or Vegetable?; Parkinson and Pesticides


1. We eat dandelion greens. Do they have health benefits?
Kara, Internet

Your lawn may be full of dandelions right now and you think of them as a weed. However, they can be a nutritious green vegetable. Native Americans used them for an upset stomach and to keep your kidneys and liver healthy.

Today, dandelion leaves and roots may be put in a supplement and used as a natural diuretic to reduce water retention. When you retain too much fluid your heart has to work harder to pump all the fluid through your body. If it can’t keep up, water pools in lower leg, ankles and feet.

In 2009, a study showed dandelion extract worked as a mild diuretic. However, it does not replace the diuretics prescribed by your doctor and it may interact with other medication. Talk to your doctor before you take a supplement. The best way to use dandelion is as a leafy green vegetable in salads, soups, and side dishes. They are a good source of vitamins A and C and the minerals iron, zinc and potassium.

So, can you just pick them off your lawn? If you live in a remote area where you can be sure the dandelions were not exposed to pesticides, then maybe. Generally, I would not pick them off your lawn because of pesticide application in the neighborhood.


2. Speaking of Pesticides, do they increase risk of Parkinson’s Disease?
Len, Internet

According to researchers at UCLA, pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson’s. The researchers found that brain cells exposed to pesticides change their behavior and this happens at lower levels of pesticides than previously thought. The researchers suggest we avoid pesticides as much as possible by eating organic as much as possible. If you can’t afford organic, eat the fruits and vegetables that have few pesticide residues.

The consumer group called the Environmental Working Group just came out with their list of the “Clean 15” produce. It includes starting with the most clean:

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potato.

You have lots of different colors and low priced items to choose from!

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