What Is Purslane and Why Don’t More People Eat It??
Is Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) Edible? What Does It Taste Like?
Raise your hand if you are aware of purslanes. Do you know of their nutritional and health benefits?
What Is Purslane?
Purslane: Portulaca oleracea is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae
This super-food is actually a sort of wild growing weed. You can find it growing everywhere from the cracks of sidewalks, along your driveway, or out in forested areas. But do not ever sell it short. It is also one of the most nutritious plants, as well as an amazing healing herb, surpassing most cultivated vegetables.
Purslane is also known as pigweed, verdolaga, and red root. It is a succulent and grows as a ground cover. It has thick dark green leaves with bright magenta stems. In late summer it is adorned with small yellow flowers. It grows year round in warm climates and flourishes from late spring through early fall in colder climates.
Purslane has a tangy quality, and a taste similar to spinach and watercress, but slightly stronger.
One of purslane’s claims to fame is its source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also boasts vitamins A and C and potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is loaded with beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in your body which is good news for healthy skin, vision, and neurological function. As well it is loaded with antioxidant Vitamin C know for boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and improving heart health. An added bonus is that it contains a mere nine calories per cup.
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Purslane Is a Superfood!
Besides the health benefits above, this amazing plant aids in medical conditions of all sorts:
- improves the efficiency of the heart, to provide proper blood flow to the body.
- moisturizes the skin.
- muscle relaxant
- kills the cancer cells in liver, breast, lung, colon, and cervical cancers.
- purslane extract treats asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
- improves triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and BMI index in type 2 diabetes patients.
- strengthens bones.
- reduces effects of autism and ADHD.
- aids in liver health.
This wonder plant has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. The Romans used it for
headaches, inflammation, bladder disorders, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. To this day it is used in India for indigestion, ulcers, edema, and eye diseases, and in the Middle East to prevent scurvy, expel worms, reduce fever, and treat skin conditions.
Chinese Medicine considers purslane a very special plant with multiple uses. They use it to treat boils, sores, eczema, intestinal bleeding, urinary tract
infections, hot flashes, night sweats, insect and snake bites, and diarrhea!
By now you must be wondering, “Why don’t more people eat purslane?”
I guess people don’t really think to eat “weeds”…?
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What Parts of the Purslane Plant Can Be Used?
Every inch of this amazing plant is used for medicinal purposes, including the stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and juice. All of it is edible and has a lemony, salty flavor with a texture similar to cucumber. It is a very versatile addition to your table and can be sauteed, juiced, boiled, pickled, or added to a salad. It is used in soups as a thickener, added to curries, and for a garnish in sandwiches.
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Here are a few recipes for you to try in order to utilize this nutritional powerhouse:
1. Heat oil, butter, and garlic in a pan and toss in a few cups of chopped spinach and purslane. Cook for two minutes and add honey to taste for a delightful sauté.
2. Chop purslane leaves with radishes, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Add splashes of apple cider vinegar and olive oil with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Chop together a few peaches and a cup of purslane to enjoy a nicely balanced flavor of sweet and sour. An ounce or two of orange juice is optional.
4. For stuffed purslane avocados cut four avocados in half, scoop out the meat, and mix in a bowl with chopped purslane. Add chili pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and walnuts, then scoop back into the avocado shells.
5. Chopped purslane is a great addition to duck, lamb, and fish that have been cooked with garlic, marjoram, and salt.
Side note: Since purslane is such a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, it is great for vegetarians and vegans.
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Who Should Not Eat Purslane?
And now for our usual delight downer: Purslane is infused with oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb minerals, which can be a problem for some people. So who should not eat purslane?
People with digestive orders or kidney stones should be cautious. Purslane can agitate digestive disorders and kidney stones. Probably best to try a little bit and keep adding more just to be sure. If you love purslane but it doesn’t care quite as much for you, you can combine it with yogurt or kefir, which will decrease the levels of oxalates.
Why don’t more people eat purslane? I don’t really know, but to quote Epoch Health:
“In a time of food insecurity, supply chain disruptions, soaring food prices, and increasing corruption in our medical system, learning some of the health benefits of plants we can grow ourselves seems prudent. Purslane is delicious, nutritious, a versatile and potent medicine, and is simple to grow or can be foraged easily. A superb addition to your life and garden.”
I could never have said it better!
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