Purslane, also known as little hogweed, is a common weed worldwide. But just because it’s considered a weed doesn’t mean it’s worthless. In fact, this salty, slightly sour plant, is completely edible and provides some impressive health benefits.
Purslane is a succulent that offers a juicy bite. This allows it to be grown in conditions that would kill even the hardiest lettuce. Its sturdy nature makes purslane a great garden-vegetable option for dry, hot regions or gardeners who don’t trust themselves to water regularly. Purslane’s health benefits are an added benefit for this hearty, gardener’s treasure.
Purslane has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can provide important health benefits. For example, vitamin A helps your eyes remain healthy as well as improve your immune system. Vitamin A is also critical to the health of your organs because it supports healthy cell division.
Purslane is also rich in vitamin C, which is important to keep your collagen and blood vessels in good shape, as well as helping injuries heal.
In addition, purslane can provide other health benefits, like:
Lower Risk of Cancer
These antioxidants have been found to reduce the number of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are oxygen by-products given off by all cells in the body. Lowering the number of free radicals can help reduce the risk of cellular damage. This, in turn, lowers your risk of cancer.
Purslane is also helpful for supporting your cardiovascular system. It is one of the few vegetables that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to support healthy arteries and can help prevent strokes, heart attacks, and other forms of heart disease. In fact, purslane has the highest-recorded levels of omega-3 fatty acids of any land-based plant.
Purslane is also a great source of two minerals that are important to bone health: calcium and magnesium. Calcium is the most common mineral in your body, and failing to eat enough of it can slowly weaken your bones, leading to osteoporosis.
On the other hand, magnesium indirectly affects skeletal health by affecting the growth of bone cells.
Getting enough of both of these minerals can improve skeletal health and prevent complications from osteoporosis and aging.
Purslane is rich in folate, which aids in safe cell division and promotes DNA duplication. Doctors recommend that people who can become pregnant consume at least 400 mcg of folate daily because it helps avoid birth defects.
Purslane is also an excellent source of:
Nutrients per Serving
A one-cup serving of purslane contains:
- Calories: 7
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fiber: Less than 1 gram
- Sugar: Less than 1 gram
Things to Watch Out For
Purslane contains oxalates, which have been linked to the formation of kidney stones.
People prone to kidney stones should be careful when eating purslane, especially the seeds. Purslane seeds tend to have higher levels of oxalates than other parts of the plant.
Purslane also tends to be saltier than other vegetables because of its succulent nature. People who prefer low-salt diets should watch their purslane intake to avoid consuming too much salt.
How to Eat Purslane
Purslane can easily be found outdoors during the spring and summer in most parts of the world. The plant reproduces easily and can survive harsh growing environments, so it’s often spotted between cracks in the sidewalk or in untended gardens.
Any purslane plant can be harvested and eaten, as the leaves, stems, and flowers are completely edible. When preparing wild purslane, it’s important to wash the plant carefully to ensure that no pesticides are on the leaves.
Purslane is tart and a little salty, making it a great addition to salads and other dishes. It can be eaten raw or cooked. When added to soups and stew, it thickens the broth nicely.
Here are some ways you can include purslane in your diet:
- Add purslane to soups
- Sauté purslane as a side dish
- Chop purslane and add it to salads for color
- Mix purslane into grilled vegetables
- Use purslane as a garnish
- Sprinkle purslane flowers on fish as a point of interest