Edible Weeds List

Chickweed

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Dandelion

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Doc

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Mallow

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Nasturtium

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Oxalis

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Berkeley Open Source Food Project Lists Edible Urban Weeds

Tasty, nutritious and everywhere, our urban weeds may hold the key to health, food justice and equity.

Researchers from the University of California Berkeley have identified 52 edible weeds growing in abundance in the poorest neighborhoods of San Francisco, surrounded by busy roads and industrial zones.

At least six of them are more nutritious than kale, according to a new study.

The three low-income neighborhoods the researchers studied have been classified as “urban food deserts” — meaning they are more than a mile from the nearest shop that sells fresh produce.

Of the 52 species of wild-growing “weeds” they found, they tested six for nutrition content:

Chickweed

Dandelion

Dock

Mallow

Nasturtium

Oxalis

All six were more nutritious, by most accounts, than kale – arguably the most nutritious domesticated leafy greens.

The weeds boasted more dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium, iron, vitamin K, and provided more energy.

The only nutrient kale scored higher in was vitamin C, but the researchers suspect other weeds they found, such wild mustard and wild radish, might rival it in that category.

Many of the edible weeds they found have been used in folk medicine, including plantain, cat’s ear, fennel, sow thistle, wild lettuce, and wild onions.

The really exciting part about the study, is that these weeds were foraged in the middle of a drought.

“Foraged leafy greens are consumed around the globe, including in urban areas, and may play a larger role when food is scarce or expensive,” writes Philip Stark, statistics professor and founder of the Berkeley Open Source Food Project.

“Even during this low-production period, almost every address in all three study areas had several servings of several different species, suggesting that wild edible greens are a reliable source of nutrition all year round,” writes Stark.

Soil at some survey sites had elevated concentrations of lead and cadmium, but tissue tests suggest the weeds don’t take up much of these or other heavy metals.

After being rinsed, they tested at less than the dosages considered safe by the EPA, the researchers said.

Pesticides, glyphosate, and PCBs were undetectable.

How can people identify which wild greens are edible?

“Familiarity,” says Stark. “Most people have no trouble telling the difference between, say iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce.”

He recommends people educate themselves and gradually start adding new weeds into their diets.

The report notes there are only 1.7 cups of farmed vegetables available per person per day in the United States, less than the recommended serving of two to three cups.

The researchers suggest wild food could fill in the gap and improve nutrition security.

“Wild foods might also contribute to a healthy ecosystem by building soil organic matter, retaining water and nutrients in the soil, and reducing erosion,” Stark wrote.

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Eating More Whole Grains Linked With Lower Death Risk

Nutrition News Great Grains Cover

The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy dietary pattern emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious foods and specifically that at least half of grain consumption should be whole grains. Whole grains provide many nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals, which are removed during the refining process.

Eating more whole grains linked with lower risk of death

DALLAS, June 13, 2016 — Eating at least three servings of whole grains every day could lower your risk of death, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Although dietary guidelines around the world have included whole grains as an essential component of healthy eating patterns, people aren’t eating enough, according to the analysis. In the United States average consumption remains below one serving a day, despite the long-time recommendation of three servings a day.

In the first meta-analysis review of studies reporting associations between whole grain consumption and death, researchers noted that for about every serving (16 grams) of whole grains there was a:

  • 7 percent decreased risk in total deaths;
  • 9 percent decline in cardiovascular disease-related deaths; and
  • 5 percent decline in cancer-related deaths.

The more whole grains consumed, the lower the death rate. According to researchers, when three servings (48 grams) were consumed daily the rates declined:

  • 20 percent for total deaths;
  • 25 percent for cardiovascular deaths; and
  • 14 percent for cancer-related deaths.

→  Read full article

Full bibliographic information Whole Grain Intake and Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies (DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.021101.)

Dietary Fiber Nibbles Down Stroke Risk

Eating more fiber may modestly reduce the risk of stroke, although details remain uncertain and it might just be a surrogate for other healthy behaviors, a meta-analysis determined.

Great Grains_cover Each additional 7 g of daily dietary fiber intake was associated with a significant 7% lower risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke combined, Diane Threapleton, MSc, of the University of Leeds, England, and colleagues reported online in Stroke.

“Our study supports current guidelines to increase fiber consumption,” the researchers concluded, although they noted that too little data were available to narrow down what sources or types of fiber were most protective.

They called a 7-g per day boost in roughage doable, it being the equivalent of an extra serving of beans or two servings of fruit like apples and oranges.

The average American falls short of the daily recommended fiber intake by more than that, though, getting an average of just 13 g for women and 17 g for men compared with the 21 to 25 g and 30 to 38 g, respectively, called for by guidelines.

Although the observational data couldn’t ascribe causality, a role for dietary fiber is plausible, Threapleton’s group noted.

“Soluble types of fiber form gels in the stomach and small intestine, slowing the rate of nutrient absorption and slowing gastric emptying, which increases satiety and influences the overall amount of food eaten, resulting in lower levels of overweight,” they wrote. “Bacterial fermentation of resistant starch and soluble fibers in the large intestine produces short-chain fatty acids which inhibit cholesterol synthesis by the liver, consequently lowering serum levels.”

Prior studies have shown links to stroke risk factors, including hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as insulin resistance.

The literature search turned up eight prospective cohort studies from the U.S., northern Europe, Australia, and Japan reporting on fiber intake in healthy individuals (defined as not recruited based on history of disease or poor health) and incidence of first ever stroke.

Pooled results showed a steadily declining stroke risk with higher total fiber intake, with a relative risk of 0.93 per 7 g per day (95% CI 0.88 to 0.98).

Few individuals had fiber levels above 25 g per day, “so extrapolation of risk at higher intakes should be undertaken with caution,” the researchers warned.

There was some evidence of heterogeneity among the studies, with a difference by study size.

Ischemic stroke appeared less common with higher total dietary fiber intake in two of the four studies that reported on this outcome, while a third showed a similar trend but with wide confidence intervals.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurred less often at higher fiber levels in one of the three studies looking at that outcome.

Soluble fiber showed a nonsignificant trend, with 6% lower relative risk of stroke per 4 g/day increase in daily intake across the studies.

The insoluble fiber results couldn’t be pooled. One of the three studies reporting on this measure suggested a 38% lower stroke risk, while the others indicated no association.

Fiber from grain sources appeared protective in several studies, as did vegetable fiber, but again results couldn’t be pooled.

The reviewers cautioned about the “inherent problem of unadjusted confounding” since fiber may be acting as a surrogate for other healthy behaviors like less smoking and more exercise that also would reduce stroke risk.

“All of the pooled studies did, however, include adjustment for potentially important confounding variables such as age, body mass index, blood pressure or history of hypertension, smoking status, alcohol intake, physical activity, and sex (where applicable), and also a variety of other health and lifestyle variables,” Threapleton and colleagues noted.

The main systematic review was funded by the U.K. Department of Health for England.

Threapleton reported that her PhD studies are sponsored by Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company.

From the American Heart Association:

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