You may have seen this notorious “weed” growing on the cracks of sidewalks, driveways, gardens and many different places. It is called Purslane and is very healthy for you, in fact it is a Superfood (Surprised right?) Purslane is a leafy vegetable that most likely originated in the Mediterranean region. People call it differently depending on where they live in the world. The horticulturalist may call it Portulaca oleracea. Verdolagas in spanish, and other names like pigweed, ma chi xian (Chinese), little hogweed, munyeroo, portulaca etc.
It is known as a weed however for centuries it has been used as a healthy food throughout the world in many different countries. So let talk about this superfood that you probably didn’t know about.
According to Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, the founder and president of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, purslane is a miracle plant. She discovered that the plant (purslane) had the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids of any other green plant. It also has more vitamin E and vitamin C than Spinach (Yeah.) The little leaves of this plant are very succulent so you can eat it raw or barely cooked. When overcooked, it has that slimy consistency like okra. Purslane has a lemony, crunchy taste so you can add to your morning smoothies, salads, stews, or homemade sushi rolls, tomatoes, feta cheese etc.
There is a similar plant which looks like purslane known as Spurge. Spurge has hairy red stems and has a white, milky sap when you snap it or break it. The teardrop-shaped leaves are also not succulent like that of a purslane.
How to Grow Purslane in Containers
Purslane can be grown in containers as a leafy green vegetable. It’s super easy to grow that’s why it’s considered as a “notorious weed.” It can be grown both from seeds and cuttings. The seeds be purchased at home and garden centers, greenhouses, flower shops and nurseries.
How To Harvest Purslane
Purslane is at its best when it is young and small. Bigger purslane is good too and easier to pick. You can either pick off the little leaves one at a time or pick up a whole stem and run your finger down it to pull most of the leaves off the stem, or you can use the whole entire stem with the leaves in you cooking if you like. Purslane can be stored in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
Note: Avoid harvesting purslane from an area where pesticides or herbicides are sprayed. It will be dangerous to eat such purslanes because the leaves soak up any kind of moisture around the area it finds itself. Hence we will advise you only harvest purslanes from your own gardens, an area that is clean enough or from an area where you are pretty sure has no exposure to toxic chemicals.
How To Cook Purslane
The harvested purslane (stems or leaves) need to be rinsed carefully. Purslane has little crevices to hold soil, so rinse it under running water and shake excess water from the cleaned purslane. Pat it dry with a clean dishcloth or a paper towel and it’s ready to eat.
- Purslane leaves can be sautéed in a tablespoon of olive oil, with salt and spices (cumin, chili powder or green chilies, turmeric and black pepper). A dash of lime juice or diced tomatoes can be added if it has a bitter taste.
- Purslane is usually tossed into salads or added to soups in the Mediterranean area
- Purslane can also be lightly steamed for 4 to 5 minutes, then served with salt and a little butter.
- Purslane goes very well mixed with cucumber and topped with some oil-and-vinegar dressing.
- In Mexico, it’s a favorite addition to omelettes
Is Purslane Worth Eating?
As mentioned earlier, purslane has Higher Amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Than Any Other Leafy Vegetable.
Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely rare and that can only be found in very few edibles like avocados, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and fishes and of course, purslane. In fact, purslane is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids when it comes to the vegetables, 5 times higher than the spinach.
Purslane is very nutritious and is packed with high dietary fiber. This means that people can feel full after a meal of purslane, without significantly increasing calorie intake, and thereby helping them lose weight and maintain the diet.
Purslane has vitamin A (found in beta-carotene form.) This is vital for good vision and also fights inflammation, prevents cancer, and cell growth. Also, beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant which can prevent a variety of serious chronic illnesses and boost the immune system.
Some headaches are as a result of magnesium deficiency. Purslane is high in magnesium, so supplementing with purslane could help counteract the side effects of migraines, or prevent headaches from occurring in the first place.
Good For the Hair
Purslane has a good source of vitamin E. 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.
Potential Side Effects
Just like any other food, eating too much purslane is not good for you because if its high oxalic acid. Purslane may cause health complications in people susceptible to developing calcium-oxalate kidney stones. In addition, people with certain medical conditions such as Primary Hyperoxaluria and Enteric Hyperoxaluria may be advised to restrict their dietary intake of oxalate-containing foods such as purslane.
Also, pregnant women are commonly advised to avoid eating purslane as it promotes uterine contractions and may therefore cause miscarriage.
If you have any knowledge of this or have got some other recipes kindly share with us and other readers on our social media platforms.
…healthy foods, healthy lives.