Who knew that this little weed growing in most everybody’s yard has such a palatable flavor and unbelievable nutritional value. Purslane, which also can be known as pursley, pigweed, or verdolaga has very succulent, soft leaves which surprisingly have more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils and more than any other leafy green vegetable.
Thought to originated in India, purslane has been long cultivated and used by the
Ancient Egyptians and Chinese for thousands years. Now it is widely distributed across the continents. Different varieties might differ slightly in leave shape or color, but they all have the same taste and nutritional value.
It is hardy and easy to grow. Most of the time it pops up by itself in the sunniest and driest parts of my garden. It can grow up to 5-6in (12-15cm) long, spreading flat across the ground.
In many Asian and European countries purslane is actually grown as a staple leafy vegetable. The leaves, which have a slightly salty and sour taste can be added to your salads or smoothies. I use the stems in my morning green juice. Even beautiful yellow flowers when in bloom, can be enjoyed as a garnish for your salad.
Health Benefits of Purslane:
– This wonderful plant is packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
– It can be used as diuretic, cooling herb, to lower fevers, clear toxins and treat bacterial infections.
– Fresh leaves contain surprisingly more omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable plant. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves provide about 350 mg of α-linolenic acid. Research studies show that consumption of foods rich in ω-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and help prevent the development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences in children.
– It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, (1320 IU/100 g, provides 44% of RDA) one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A is a known powerful natural antioxidant and is essential for vision. This vitamin is also required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
– Purslane is also a rich source of vitamin C, and some B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese.
– Furthermore, present in purslane are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish beta-cyaninsand the yellow beta-xanthins. Both pigment types are potent anti-oxidants and have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties in laboratory studies.