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7 Edible Weeds that are More Nutritious than Store-Bought Veggies

These seven common “weeds” are loaded with more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein than almost any vegetable at the grocery store… and better yet, they’re free!

If you think everything in your yard that isn’t grass is a nuisance, you’re missing out — on a free lunch!

The following are seven of the most nutritionally valuable weeds commonly found in American backyards:

Dandelion

Probably the most well-known of all weeds, the humble dandelion is actually bursting with vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. The great news is that there’s probably a ton of this nutritious weed in your backyard.

Dandelion has been used throughout history to treat everything from liver problems and kidney disease to heartburn and appendicitis. Today, it is mainly used as a diuretic, appetite stimulant and for the liver and gallbladder.

Every part of this common weed is edible, from the roots to the blossoms. Use the leaves in sandwiches and stir fries – they boast more beta carotene than carrots, meaning they are great for healthy eyes! Roots can be made into a herbal tea, or roasted and ground as a coffee substitute. The sweet flower heads will add color to salads and can be used to make wines.

Curly Dock

Curly dock is one of the hardiest and most widespread weeds, so you should have no trouble finding a source.

The leaves are high in beta-carotene, Vitamins A, B, C and the trace mineral zinc, strengthening your immune system, and the seeds are rich in calcium and magnesium for bone health.

The stems of the curly-dock can be peeled and eaten either cooked or raw, and the mature seeds can be roasted to make an earthy, warm-drink.

Chickweed 

This garden weed is a great source of vitamins A, D and C, as well as iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc! Chickweed has a delicate flavor, much like spinach, and works well when freshly picked and added to sandwiches and salads. If you don’t like the taste, you can still reap the benefits by hiding it in soups and stews.

Medicinally, chickweed can be used as a topical treatment for minor cuts, burns, eczema and rashes. It’s also a mild diuretic and is said to relieve cystitis and irritable bladder symptoms.

Chicory

This flower in light blue color survives as a wild roadside plant. Despite its tasting somewhat bitterly, the chicory leaves are frequently consumed in certain parts of Europe.

The chicory is well-known for its toxicity to internal parasites and can also be used as a tonic to stimulate your lost appetite, it acts as a diuretic, and it can cure an upset stomach and constipation. It is believed to protect the liver and to be helpful with gallbladder conditions.

Lambsquarters

This fast growing summer weed produces black seeds which are related to the protein-rich quinoa. Much like their cousin, the seeds of lamb’s quarters are a great source of protein, along with providing calcium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A. However, the harvesting of these seeds does take a little dedication.

If it seems like too much work for you, don’t get upset – you can also enjoy the young shoots and leaves of the plant. Whether raw or sautéed, they make a great stand-in for spinach since they’re just as nutritious. Medicinally, a tea made from the leaves is said to help with digestion disorders and stomach aches.

Elderflowers 

The truly versatile Elder is not exactly a weed but is quite a common wild tree, especially around rivers and lakes. The flowers can be collected in spring to make elderflower cordial, soda or champagne. With a refreshing, mild taste, they’re great when paired with apple or pear. Dry the flowers in bunches to make a tea.

Once the flowers on the tree die off, the green berries can be picked (before they ripen) and pickled to make elderberry capers. Make sure to leave some, as the ripened berries make a delicious balsamic vinegar.

The leaves, flowers, fruits, and root extracts are used by herbalists to treat bronchitis, cough, colds, flu and fever. Studies have shown that the wild plant is effective in treating influenza.

Purslane 

Did you know your garden is hiding all sorts of nutritional and medicinal gems?

From curing heartburn, cystitis and coughs to providing free protein, vitamins and minerals, common weeds have some truly amazing benefits. Sadly, most people simply dig them up, mow them down or kill them in various ways.

Why not take a look at what’s really growing in your backyard?

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