Floral centerpieces on the dinner table are a classic and timeless tradition, but flowers can sometimes show up on your dinner plate, too.
Edible flowers are used in many different styles of cuisine and can be found on menus all over the world.
The term, ‘edible’ simply indicates that the flower was grown in a food-safe way, meaning it wasn't treated with unsafe pesticides or preservatives.
It also means that the flower doesn’t naturally contain any compounds we've identified as dangerous or toxic.
Not all flowers are edible, and it’s important to carefully source the ones that are.
Despite this, there are many benefits of flowers in your diet. In fact, there are enough tasty flowers to consider growing an edible flower garden.
Here are 11 edible flowers with potential health benefits.
Hibiscus is one of the most commonly used edible flowers and is found in drinks, teas, relish, jam, syrups, and kombucha. It may also be used as a garnish in salads, entrees, cakes, and so much more.
The flavor is quite sweet as well as tart, almost like cranberry, which is why it is most often used for teas.
Some studies indicate that hibiscus may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, although more research is needed to better understand how hibiscus can support heart health.
Lavender is probably best known for its distinctive fragrance, which is acclaimed for its calming effects.
The combination of color and aroma makes lavender a particularly desirable addition to a variety of foods, including baked goods, infused syrups, liqueurs, herbal teas, dry spice rubs and herb mixtures.
Lavender is believed to be a good source of vitamin A, a sleep aid, stress reliever, an aids in the digestive system.
Pansies aren’t often considered on lists of edible flowers, but they really should be. They exist in many colors, but hues of purple, blue and yellow are most common. They have five overlapping petals with a dark area in the center that resembles an ink stain.
Pansies are a rich sources of antioxidants. They reduce inflammation, are a high source of vitamin C, relief for eczema, hives and itching, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, and congestion. It also eliminates certain bladder infections, to treat epilepsy, and alleviate symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
Dandelions may be a stubborn garden weed, but they are highly nutritious.
Interestingly, the flowers are not the only part of the dandelion that can be eaten. In fact, every part of this so-called weed can be enjoyed — including its roots, stems and leaves.
Research shows that the antioxidant-rich flower can help control blood sugar levels, which is particularly important in diabetes management.
It also reduces blood pressure and inflammation, boosts your immune system, reduces risk of cancer, and aid digestion and skin complexion.
5. Squash Blossoms
Available from late spring to early fall, squash blossoms have a relatively mild flavor. Though they're typically battered and deep-fried, you can also stuff them with a ricotta-herb blend or chop and stir them into a rice pilaf.
If you’re feeling indulgent, another delicious option is to stuff the blossoms with herbed cheeses and fry or bake them until the delicate petals become crispy.
Chamomile is a floral herb used in cooking and traditional medicine for centuries.
Medicinally, chamomile is often consumed to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. If you'd rather consume chamomile flowers in their natural form (instead of in a tea or extract), try sprinkling a few petals into a smoothie before you blend it.
Chamomile eases your digestive system and stress, and aid sleep. It is also a good source of vitamin A. Additionally it said to reduce menstrual pain, treat diabetes and lower blood sugar, slow or prevent osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, and aid with skin conditions.
A good rule of thumb for choosing a flavorful rose is that if it smells pleasant, it’ll probably taste good, too. Only eat the petals, though, because the leaves and stems don’t make a very palatable snack.
Roses petals have a very aromatic, floral and slightly sweet flavor.
Some research suggests that drinking rose water might be good for a sore throat since it can help relax your throat muscles.
Also, roses contain vitamins A and E. They are known to treat digestive issues, menstrual disorders. They are also calming for skin and can reduce inflammation.
Honeysuckle has been vital to traditional Chinese medicine practices for centuries.
The flowers and their extracts are ingested or applied to the skin to treat various inflammatory conditions. However, its efficacy as a medicinal therapy for humans remains scientifically unproven.
Be careful, though; while honeysuckle petals are safe, eating large quantities of certain honeysuckle berries (there are many different types) could be poisonous.
Like dandelions, purslane greens are sometimes used in cooking. However, their tiny flowers (often yellow) deserve some love, too.
It’s filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but its biggest claim to nutritional fame is its omega-3 fat content. In fact, purslane provides more omega-3s than almost any other vegetable of its kind.