Purslane (scientific name – Portulaca oleracea), also known as pursley or pigweed, is a weed that has many health benefits.
Native to Persia and India, it is currently widely eaten throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and in the eastern part of the United States, including Florida.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it was used to treat everything from intestinal bleeding and diarrhea to dysentery and hemorrhoids.
This plant is a great source of vitamins, such as – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), folate (B9), A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, E, K, minerals, like – manganese, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, sodium, selenium, and magnesium. Moreover, it contains dietary fiber, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Health benefits of eating purslane weed
The leaves of this weed are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits related to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal development and growth, and they also lower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, decrease the risk of heart failure and stroke, reduce blood clotting, and lower irregular heartbeats. Furthermore, omega-3 acids are a natural treatment for children with bronchial asthma.
Note – your body does not make omega-3 fatty acids on its own. 100 g of fresh Portulaca oleracea leaves has 300 to 400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid.
This plant is an important source of coenzyme Q10, a fat-soluble compound similar to a vitamin. Coenzyme Q10 is found in every cell of the body and is required for mitochondrial ATP synthesis and operates as an antioxidant in lipoproteins and cell membranes. According to a 2002 study, coenzyme Q10 slowed the progression of early Parkinson’s disease and improved the patients’ daily life.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which offers many beauty and health benefits. Getting enough vitamin E in your daily diet increases circulation to the scalp and helps stimulate oxygen uptake, as well as repairing your hair from the inside.
Another interesting benefit of vitamin E is that it can help fade scars and prevents scars from becoming permanent. One cup of this weed provides a good amount of vitamin E.
This weed has 2 betalain alkaloid pigments, the yellow betaxanthins and the reddish betacyanins. These compounds can have a powerful impact on your overall health. They are found in only a few of the world’s plants and are water soluble. More importantly, these active compounds are known to provide protection against premature aging, reduce inflammation, and detox your body.
Type 2 diabetes
It’s been established in clinical trials that consumption of this plant helps adults with type 2 diabetes Mellitus by considerably lowering their blood sugar levels. One reason may be the active compounds in the weed and the lack of saturated fat.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in blood clotting. In addition, this vitamin has been proved in studies to be effective in reducing the risk of colon, prostate, nasal, stomach, and oral cancers.
In 2012, a study at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Reus, Spain concluded that the risk of developing type II diabetes was reduced by 17 percent per 100 micrograms of vitamin K1 consumption daily. 100g of this plant contains 358% vitamin K of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin A (found in beta-carotene form in this weed) is vital for good vision and also fights inflammation, prevents cancer, and cell growth. Furthermore, beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant which can prevent a variety of serious chronic illnesses and boost the immune system.
Vitamin A deficiency symptoms include – night blindness, premature skin damage, poor growth, brittle nails and hair, and an increased the risk of other severe illness.
Other plant sources of beta-carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos, spinach, and apricots. 100g of this weed contains 98% vitamin A of the recommended daily intake.
Free radicals protection
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of many powerful antioxidants that may protect against the damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, which may be formed from the environment as well as through natural human physiological processes.
In addition, ascorbic acid helps strengthen our immunity system, therefore protecting us from diseases, and improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods, hence, lowering the chance of iron anemia. 100g of this plant contains 12% vitamin C of the recommended daily intake++++.
How to eat
The taste of this weed is slightly sour. You need to cut off the root and the individual stems need to be washed. Then, it can be chopped and steamed as a vegetable (just like spinach) and is great to use in soups or salads. It can also be pickled.
It can be kept in the fridge for about three to four days.
Side effects of purslane
This plant contains oxalic acid (actually more than spinach) which is associated with the formation of kidney stones. Avoid consumption if you have stomach problems and during pregnancy.
References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23034962 http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934766/