Most people consider them a weed, but they really should think of them as a superfood. Dandelion greens are a rich source of antioxidants. When compared on an equal weight basis, how much there are in the dried leaves is higher than garlic powder, brewed coffee, and maca root. The latter of which is very expensive, while the fresh dandelion greens can be picked for free from your yard. In fact, rather than pay for this superfood, your neighbors may pay you to pick theirs!
The ORAC value above reflects the dried greens, which are commonly used to make herbal teas. The fresh form will have a significantly lower value, since the water content in them will skew the concentration of antioxidants to be much lower. By how much? Well the USDA National Nutrient Database reports that 100 grams of the fresh form contains 85.6 grams of water, or 85.6% water (1). Using that information, you can calculate how much antioxidants are in fresh dandelion greens by taking the above ORAC value and removing the water weight.
The result? Fresh dandelion has an ORAC value of 1,392.
To put that value into perspective, raw kale is 1,770, raw spinach is 1,513, red Swiss chard is 1,108 and romaine lettuce is 1,017.
A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of fresh dandelion leaves provides you with the following types of antioxidants:
35 mg of vitamin C, which is almost 40% of the daily value for men and for women, it's an even higher percentage
10,161 IU of vitamin A, providing you with double the daily recommended intake
13,610 umol of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for eye health
121 umol of beta cryptoxanthin
They are also a rich source of B vitamins. For minerals, the same serving size provides 187 mg of calcium, 3.1 mg of iron, 397 mg of potassium, and 66 mg of phosphorus. Choline is not a mineral or vitamin, but it is an important phytonutrient for brain health and there is 35.3 mg of it in this portion size.
Despite the many health benefits of dandelion greens, it would not be healthy for you to eat them from most lawns due to fertilizer usage, urination/defecation by dogs, and so forth. The best way to eat them is to set aside an area in your lawn that is adequately protected from these things and only use those as a potential food source.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 13, Issue 1. NIH 2007