Spring has sprung in Colorado, and with that, fresh blooms are beginning to sprout from the ground. But in many yards across the state, this also means the return of dreaded dandelions in full force. While these yellow weeds are unwanted on most people's properties, they actually have some pretty dandy benefits.

Instead of tossing them in the trash, Coloradans can consider some other uses for dandelions plucked from the lawn.

According to WebMD, all parts of a dandelion plant are edible, from the top of the yellow flower down to the roots. Not only are dandelion greens safe to eat, but they also provide a range of health benefits. Due to the high potassium content of dandelion greens, when ingested, these plants act as a natural diuretic, helping to increase urine output and treat water retention. These fiber-rich greens also contain natural anti-inflammatories and can reduce swelling in the body. Furthermore, the antioxidants found in dandelion greens protect the human body and keep the immune system strong. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic note that dandelions are used around the world as a natural way to control blood sugar in those with Type 2 diabetes.

In addition to potassium, raw dandelion greens contain iron, folate, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Scientists from Michigan State University explain that one cup of dandelion greens contains almost twice as much iron as spinach and over 500 percent of one's daily intake of vitamin K.

When it comes to consuming dandelions, both the greens and flowers can easily be tossed into a salad. The greens taste a little bitter all by themselves, so most people prefer to mix them with other things. Sauteeting the greens also helps to remove the bitterness, and from there, they can then be added to pasta, eggs, and other dishes.

Other nutritional options include infusing fresh or dried dandelion flowers into oil, tea, and wine. Fritters can even be made with flower heads and will turn out similar to pancakes. Or, combine the colorful petals into burger patties for an earthy kick.

Besides incorporating dandelions into your diet, these bright yellow weeds can be used to make a salve that’s great for muscle aches.

Dandelions can be stored in a plastic bag in the freezer for longer keeping.

Prohibited Plants in Colorado

Heads up, green thumbs!

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