These six 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 six of the most nutritionally valuable weeds commonly found in American backyards:
Chickweed provides all the minerals most Americans are lacking — calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, silica, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
It’s also high in vitamin A, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, niacin, and vitamin C.
It also contains 14.5 grams of protein per serving, about half a cup of dried leaves, according to the Plants For A Future database.
Chickweed has a delicate flavor, much like spinach. It tastes great in 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.
Dandelions are loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B9, C and K.
They’re also high in the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Probably the most common of North American weeds, they’re also among the most medicinal, used throughout history to treat everything from liver problems and kidney disease to heartburn and appendicitis.
More recently, a study found the plant kills cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy cells.
Every part of this common weed is edible, from the roots to the blossoms. Use the leaves in sandwiches and stir-fries. Add the sweet flower heads to salads to salads or smoothies. The roots can be made into a herbal-tea, or roasted and ground as a coffee substitute.
Chicory contains at least a little of nearly every essential, yet hard-to-find, trace mineral, including 7% of our daily value of selenium and manganese and 5% of our daily value of iron.
Selenium helps regulate thyroid hormones and the immune system, while manganese supports the formation of healthy bones, tissues, and sex hormones.
It’s also high in the macro minerals calcium, potassium and phosphorus and vitamins A,B and C
Chicory roots contain a prebiotic vital to the growth and activity of probiotics, called oligosaccharide-enriched inulin.
Oligosaccharides are present in only a few sources: breast milk, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, garlic, legumes, and bananas.
Add fresh chicory leaves to a salad for a mild-to-peppery flavor. The remove some of the bitterness, boil or sauté.
4. 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.
5. Common Mallow
Mallow is high in vitamins A and C and calcium and iron.
Unlike its name suggests, the flavor of this plant is nothing like marshmallow. Tea made from common mallow root forms a gelatinous mixture, which is soothing for the digestive and genitourinary tracts.
Lambsquarters is high in Vitamin A and C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. It’s also a decent source of protein.
This rapidly growing summer weed produces black-seeds which are related to the protein-rich superfood quinoa.
You can enjoy the young shoots and leaves of the plant. Whether raw or sautéed, they make a great replacement for spinach and are just as nutritious.