In many parts of the world, spring is in full bloom. Flowers of all colors and shapes can be seen in gardens, parks and other green spaces. They make our world look and smell better.

So, it is no surprise that people love flowers! Well...except for one. Dandelions!

There is probably no flower more hated, or misunderstood, than the bright yellow dandelion.

In the United States, they are considered “weeds,” the name for any unwanted plant. In an effort to have the perfect green grass lawn, people try their best to kill all dandelions with chemical products. Or they dig them out at the roots -- only to see them grow right back.

Dandelions are hard to kill. And that is a good thing because they are actually one of the most nutritious foods in the world.

A 2014 study ranks dandelion greens as one of the top 41 most nutritious foods. Coming in at number 16, the wild growing “weed” topped popular healthy like kale and broccoli.

The lead writer of that study is Jennifer Di Noia, a professor and researcher at William Paterson University. She is an expert in nutrition and healthy behaviors. She said she wanted to develop a method for defining “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.” These are the foods most strongly linked with reducing chronic disease risk.

She added that she also wanted to give people an exact list of fruits and vegetables that offer them the most nutrition. Oftentimes, she explained, people hear they should eat “leafy greens” or add more “color” to their diet. But, they do not always know how to bring that information to their meal planning.

Her study was published in Preventing Chronic Disease by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dandelions are a great source of vitamin K and also are a good source of vitamins A and C. They also have vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins. Also, they provide lots of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Besides nutrition, another great thing about dandelions is that you can eat every part of them -- from the bottom of the roots to the top of the flower. Just make sure to take care when picking wild dandelions. Do not eat ones that have been treated with dangerous chemicals or are growing near high traffic areas.

Dandelions are said to provide several possible health benefits such as helping in digestion and improving some skin conditions. They may also reduce inflammation.

Dandelions are hearty, drought-resistant flowers. They can grow in environments too dry or difficult for most other crops. One reason they are so hard to kill is that their roots spread easily as do their white, soft, seed-filled tops.

Exercise 1

Vocabulary

Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

lawn n. ground (as around a house or in a garden or park) that is covered with grass and is kept mowed

powerhouse someone or something that is full of a particular thing, in the case of dandelions -- nutrients

chronic adj. medical : continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

inflammationn. medical : a condition in which a part of your body becomes red, swollen, and painful

drought n. a long period of time during which there is very little or no rain

 

Exercise 2

Questions

Answer these questions about the article.

1. Why are dandelions hated in the US?

2. Who is the lead author of the 2014 study?

3. Which parts of dandelions are edible?

4. Are dandelions easy to grow?

 

Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

lawn, chronic, inflammation, drought

 

Exercise 4

Discussion

Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think of this study?

2. Have you ever eaten dandelions?

3. Are you surprised to see that dandelions are so unpopular in some parts of the world?

4. Do you have a healthy diet?

Source

This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.