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The Amazing Health Benefits of Purslane

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Have you heard of purslane? It is an old weed taking the health world by storm. Read on to see why you might just want to add this strange weed to your diet ASAP.

Have you heard of purslane? Purslane is a succulent weed native to Africa and the Middle East.

Today, it is generally regarded as a weed, but it has surprising health benefits that are largely unknown and unrecognized. Since purslane is not likely to be sold in any grocery store, the easiest way to add this to your diet is to grow it yourself.

Find out more about this curious plant and its health properties below.

Purslane Examined

Purslane is a leafy vegetable that looks like a cross between a garden succulent plant and lettuce. It has green leaves that are slightly rubbery and have a frosted appearance. Purslane acts as ground cover, and rarely grows over two feet high.

Purslane is 93 percent water, which makes it an excellent food source for hydration. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste, similar to spinach.

Nutrients in Purslane
  • Omega 3 fats (both ALA and EPA, which is rare to find in plant form)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • B1, B2, B3
  • Copper
  • Folate
  • Phosphorous

With all of these nutrients, purslane is a superfood (although a single serving is not enough to satisfy your daily need for any one nutrient).

What Makes Purslane Unique?

Purslane is a unique and beneficial green for a variety of reasons. Find it's most beneficial effects below: Purslane Contains EPA The most interesting thing about purslane is that it contains EPA omga-3 fatty acids, which are extremely rare to find in plant form.

This is good news for vegetarians who may not eat a lot of fatty fish, where we usually find EPA. It is possible that since purslane is native to dry areas, ancient people may have eaten it instead of fish when bodies of water were unavailable and fish was rare in the diet.

EPA is easier for the body to use than ALA, which is why it is generally regarded as the preferred form of omega-3 fat.

Purslane Boosts Antioxidant Levels

Purslane also contains a huge number of antioxidants. Most of the vitamins in the plant have antioxidant properties, like vitamin C and vitamin A. In addition to these vitamins, purslane also contains glutathione, which protects cells from damage, melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and betalain, which helps prevent cholesterol from damaging blood vessels.

Purslane Reduces Cholesterol

In one study from 2014, when study participants ate purslane seeds for one year, their LDL cholesterol levels were reduced significantly. This indicates that purslane can have a positive effect on a person's cholesterol levels.

Purslane Contains Vital Minerals

Purslane is high in minerals like manganese, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals work together to regulate blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke, and even reduce the risk of heart disease. Purslane is particularly high in magnesium, which is used in over 300 reactions and processes in the body.

Research suggests that magnesium can improve thyroid function, reduce type 2 diabetes risk, and protect against heart disease. Purslane also contains calcium, which is difficult to find in vegetable sources. Calcium is not only used to support bone and tooth health, but is also used in hundreds of other processes in the body, such as supporting healthy heart function.

Purslane May Fight Depression

Purslane is high in the following nutrients: calcium, magnesium, potassium, phenylalanine, and tryptophan. These nutrients are essential for regulating mood and preventing mental disorders. If you eat purslane regularly, it could fight symptoms of low mood and minor depression.

Traditional Uses of Purslane

Traditionally, purslane has been used to treat a variety of conditions. These traditional remedies are not supported by direct studies, but based on the nutrient profile of purslane, might be effective in treating these conditions.

Caffeine Withdrawal

Purslane contains melatonin and magnesium. If you are suffering from caffeine withdrawal, or have the coffee "jitters" eating a few leaves of purslane may counteract the negative effects of both caffeine withdrawal and caffeine overdosing.

Immune System Booster

Make a purslane salad by adding purslane leaves to any other salad when you feel a cold coming on. The high nutrient profile of purslane, including vitamin C, will help boost the immune system and may make your cold symptoms disappear faster.

Headache Remedy

Some headaches are caused by a 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. Try adding a few leaves of purslane to salads, sandwiches, and as a flavoring herb in cooked dishes.

How to Grow Purslane

Since it is unusual to find purslane for sale at the grocery store, the most reliable way to keep it on hand is to grow it yourself. Luckily, as it is a weed, purslane is incredibly easy to grow.

A word of warning: Some research suggests that when purslane is grown in the shade, it is higher in oxalates, which may cause health problems, such as an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

However, the oxalate levels in purslane are reduced when the plant is grown in sunlight. So when you plan your purslane garden, position it to receive as much sunlight as possible.

Select USDA organic purslane seeds and order them online (you may not be able to find the seeds from in-person retailers as the plant isn't popular).

Select a sunny patch of your yard or garden, or find a large container and fill it with potting soil. According to the growing habits of purslane, the plant needs few nutrients to survive, which means it is easy to grow in almost any soil. However, as purslane is a desert plant, it does require well-drained soil like other succulents.

Sow the seeds when there is no danger of frost. As a desert plant, purslane will die in cold weather. Since purslane doesn't grow very big, you will want to plant a large number of seeds.

Start a few different batches in several containers over a period of several weeks so you always have a patch that is ready for harvest until frost falls. Wait a month or two for the seeds to sprout and the plant to grow.

Keep the soil somewhat moist but do not overwater the plants. The soil should never look wet, but always feel a bit damp. This is easier to regulate in a container. In the yard, just make sure it doesn't get too dry or too wet.

When the leaves turn bright green and a bit frosty, the leaves are ready to harvest.

Snip the leaves with scissors and wash thoroughly before eating.

Add the leaves to salads, sandwiches, breakfast dishes, sauces, stews, soups, and any other prepared dishes. You can add purslane to any dish where you would use spinach or another fresh herb.

Purslane: Overlooked, but Powerful

Purslane is an incredible leafy green that contains many nutrients. Just like other micro greens, purslane is effective in preventing a variety of health problems and maintaining the ideal balance of nutrients in the body. Of particular note, the EPA in purslane makes it unique among other greens, which rarely contain EPA. Vegetarians and vegans in particular can benefit from the addition of purslane in the diet due to its unusual levels of EPA, which are often lacking in the vegetarian diet.

Next Article: Beta-Sitosterol and Cholesterol