Edible and Beneficial Flowers
Do not assume that all flowers are edible, Some flowers are poisonous so always verify that a flower is safe to eat before trying it.
Do not eat flowers that have been exposed to pesticides like flower shop flowers, or dandelion from the average American yard.
Fruits and vegetables are not the only things you can eat straight from your garden. Many flowers also offer delicious health benefits when consumed. People have been eating flowers since before 140 B.C., when the practice was first mentioned in written record. Eating flowers fell widely out of fashion during the 20th century when we began producing and selling food on an industrial scale. Here are a few edible flowers and the benefits they have on our health:
Dandelion: Although it is generally regarded as a weed, dandelion consumption dates back to ancient Rome. According to records, they were used medicinally as early as the 10th century and appeared in Europe via the Welsh in the 13th century.
Dandelions contain antioxidants that fight off other harmful molecules called free radicals. These can damage the cells in your body.
The flower contains a type of antioxidant called carotenoids. It gives the bloom its yellow color. Carotenoids are known to reduce inflammation in the body and protect us from cancer.
The roots, leaves, and stems of a dandelion contain a type of antioxidant called polyphenols. The polyphenols in dandelions have been shown to influence insulin secretion and can play an important role in managing Type 2 diabetes.
The dandelion is versatile in the kitchen. You can eat the flower, stem, roots, and leaves of a dandelion. You can eat a dandelion raw or cooked. It can even be used to make jelly, honey, and wine
Honeysuckle: The honeysuckle flower contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants and can help with health problems like digestive disorders, upper respiratory infections, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The common and Japanese species of honeysuckle flower are generally safe to eat, other varieties have poisonous berries but the nectar is safe to eat.
The honeysuckle flower offers a sweet nectar that can be enjoyed when the flower is picked right from the stem and the pistil is gently removed from the base of the flower. Some people use the nectar to sweeten tea or create a syrup out of it.
Lavender: Doctors in ancient Greece and Rome used lavender to treat indigestion, headaches, and sore throats.
Lavender has a wide range of applications. It is commonly infused into baked goods, liqueur, tea, spice rubs, and herbal mixtures. It pairs well with both sweet and savory foods and can be eaten fresh or in dried form.
The smell of lavender calms the nervous system and is often used to promote relaxation, ease stress, anxiety, and depression, and induce sleep.
Purslane: Evidence suggests that people have grown purslane for consumption for 2,000 years, including the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. It was also a part of medieval Arab and 13th century European cuisine.
Purslane is nutrient dense – containing omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A.
Purslane is a fleshy succulent that has edible leaves and flowers. It is best to enjoy either raw or lightly sauteed and can be used as a substitute for spinach or watercress.
Rose: There was a time during the 17th century when roses were in such high demand that royalty throughout Europe used rose flowers and rose water as currency in Europe.
Rose water has anti-inflammatory benefits and can help ease a sore throat by relaxing the throat muscles. Drinking rose water can increase the flow of your digestive bile, which help with bloating and stomach upset. It may also be used as a mild laxative.
Dried or fresh, rose petals make a colorful and subtly sweet addition to salad, granola, herb mixtures, infused beverages, butter, or sugar. Rose petals can also be made into a jam.
Squash blossom: Squash blossoms can be eaten raw or cooked. You can stuff them with cheese and lightly fry or bake them until the petals become crispy. Or you can use them as a colorful addition to a salad or a garnish.
Squash blossoms have been enjoyed as food in Mexico since before 7,000 B.C. Researchers discovered its remnants at numerous ancient archaeological sites in the highlands of Mexico and Northern Peru.
Squash blossoms are rich in nutrients. They are great for your eyes (vitamin A), your immune system (iron and vitamin C), male fertility (folate), and they help build bones (phosphorus).
Just remember, as we said at the top, do not use flowers that have not been exposed to pesticides (like those offered in a flower shop). Also, do not assume that all flowers are edible. Some are poisonous so always verify that a flower is safe to eat before trying it.