Posted by: godshealingplants | August 11, 2019

PURSLANE FOR YOUR HEALTH

HISTORY

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) originally came from India; it was grown as a food source many centuries ago. It is considered one of the foods from the Biblical period, and is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Mexico. It is an annual succulent with a slightly sour and salty taste, making it an interesting addition to the plate and palate. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds are edible and have been used for thousands of years in different variations and is widely referred to in ancient Chinese medicine, as well as in early aboriginal culture. 

ABOUT

Purslane is a succulent annual trailing plant that grows in many countries because it thrives in poor soil. Purslane is often found thriving in the cracks of sidewalks and driveways even during summer’s heat. It often pops up in container gardens, flowerbeds, gardens, fields, waste ground and roadside. Its leaves are spoon-like in shape and are succulent.

 

It can be eaten as a cooked vegetable and is great to use in salads, soups, stews or any dish you wish to sprinkle it over. Purslane is antibacterial, anti-scorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. The leaves are a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which prevents heart attacks and strengthens the immune system.

It has yellow flowers that occur singly or in small terminal clusters. When fully open, each flower is about .5 cm (or ¼”) across, consisting of five petals, two green sepals, numerous yellow stamens, and several pistils that appear together in the centre of the flower. These flowers open up for a few hours during bright sunny mornings. Purslane flowers bloom from mid-summer through the early fall and lasts about 1 to 2 months.

Each flower is replaced by a seed capsule that splits open around the middle to release the numerous small, black seeds.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE

Purslane is rich in vitamins A and C; you’ll also has vitamins B1, B2 and B3, as well as some phosphorus, copper and folate. Other minerals are present in respectable amounts, including calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium and copper. Purslane contains beta-carotene and alpha-linolenic acid, as well as a variety of potassium salts, amino acids, and flavonoids which provide antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Purslane has recently been identified as the richest vegetable source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids are present in purslane; while ALA, the first type, is found in many other leafy green vegetables, the other type, EPA, occurs more commonly in animal foods, such as fatty fish. The calorie count for a serving of purslane about 3.5 ounces is exceptionally low at 16, which is why it’s considered a nutrient-dense food choice.

Recent research demonstrates that purslane has better nutritional quality than the major cultivated vegetables, with higher beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid. Additionally, purslane has been described as a power food because of its high nutritive and antioxidant properties.

HEALTH BENEFITS

In some parts of the world, purslane is used medicinally to treat burns, headaches, stomach aches, coughs, arthritis and other health problems.

Purslane has many benefits that help in preventing and curing diseases. Here are some of them:

Improves Circulation – The high content of iron and copper in purslane means that it contains the nutrients that can help stimulate the production of red blood cells. Both of these minerals are essential for boosting circulation by delivering more oxygen to essential parts of the body. They also increase the healing speed of cells and organs and aid in improving hair growth and metabolic efficiency! 

Improves Heart Health – Research has found that the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, found in purslane, help to reduce the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body. This helps to promote a healthier cholesterol balance in our bloodstream.

Consuming foods that are high in omega-3s have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as atherosclerosis, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, the potassium found in this vegetable can aid in reducing blood pressure due to its behavior as a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels and reducing strain on the heart.

Improves Vision – The vitamin A and beta-carotene, contained in purslane, have both been connected to improved eye health and vision. These can help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts by eliminating free radicals that attack the cells of the eye and cause these common age-related diseases. 

Skin Care – Purslane may help treat a wide variety of skin conditions as well since purslane leaves contain high levels of vitamin A. This vitamin, combined with the cocktail of compounds found in this ‘weed’ mean that it can help reduce inflammation when applied topically. When consumed it can aid in improving skin, reduce wrinkles, and stimulate the healing of skin cells to remove scars and blemishes. 

Strengthens Bones – The minerals present in purslane make it a healthy choice for people who want to lessen bone loss. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are all elements required to develop bone tissue and speed the healing process of the bones. As purslane contains these important nutrients for bone health, consumption may aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, a common age-related condition that affects millions of people. 

Treats Gastrointestinal Diseases – In traditional Chinese medicine, purslane (known as Ma Chi Xian) was widely used to treat everything from diarrhea and intestinal bleeding to hemorrhoids and dysentery. Even today it is used to treat a wide variety of intestinal conditions. These benefits are mainly attributed to the organic compounds found in purslane, including dopamine, malic acid, citric acid, alanine, glucose, and others. 

Weight Loss – Purslane is very low in calories, while also being nutrient-rich and packed with dietary fiber. This means that people can feel full after a meal including purslane, without significantly increasing calorie intake, thereby assisting in the weight loss process.

 

HOW TO BUY AND STORE

Purslane is not readily available to buy in the United States since it is considered a weed and most people want to eliminate the pesky plant. It is available to buy in some specialty markets in certain parts of the country. It is however readily available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and also in Mexico.

Purslane should be eaten fresh or cooked right away. There are articles that teach you how to freeze and how to dry purslane, but it is preferable to harvest it from your garden as you need it and eat it right away.

HOW TO COOK WITH PURSLANE

In the kitchen, purslane is commonly used in soups, salads, and stews.  It is added to meat dishes as a flavorful element and is also mixed with dough to make certain delicious bread varieties.

Once you’ve cut off the root, the individual stems needs to be washed carefully. All parts of common purslane are edible. However, because it has little crevices to hold the soil, you need to wash it really well to get all the dirt off. 

 HOW TO ENJOY

Sprinkle some purslane on pizza for a zesty taste

Purslane, tomato and walnut salad

Purslane will give your smoothie or juice a delicious zing

Mix purslane into your favorite veggie pancake

Purslane can be lightly stir fried  for 4 to 5 minutes, and then served with a little butter

Add purslane to you’re your egg tacos

Purslane can be mixed with beans for a delicious taste
 

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A WORD OF CAUTION

The only potential downside that researchers have found about purslane is the relatively high content of oxalic acid, which leads to the formation of kidney stones. If you already suffer from kidney stones, speak to a medical professional about consuming it. It should be noted that boiling it in water causes a great deal of oxalic acid to be eliminated, without losing many of the other beneficial nutrients. 

WARNING

Purslane is similar in appearance to a poisonous plant called the Hairy-Stemmed Spurge. Make sure that what you might think is purslane isn’t this poisonous plant by breaking its stem and squeezing it with your fingers.

If the plant produces a milky sap, it is poisonous and should not be eaten.  

IN CONCLUSION

Our bodies can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, so we need to get these vital substances from foods, and even though there’s not much fat in purslane, much of what it contains is in this form.

As a significant source of omega-3 oils, Purslane could yield considerable health benefits to vegetarian and other diets where the consumption of fish oils is excluded. Scientific analysis of its chemical components has shown that this common weed has uncommon nutritional value, making it one of the potentially important foods for the future. 

REFERENCES 

  • L. Liu, P. Howe, Y.-F. Zhou, Z.-Q. Xu, C. Hocart, and R. Zhang, “Fatty acids and B-carotene in Australian purslane (Portulaca oleracea) varieties,” Journal of Chromatography A, vol. 893, no. 1, pp. 207–213, 2000.
  • Oliveira, P. Valentão, R. Lopes, P. B. Andrade, A. Bento, and J. A. Pereira, “Phytochemical characterization and radical scavenging activity of Portulaca oleraceae L. leaves and stems,” Microchemical Journal, vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 129–134, 2009.
  • P. Simopoulos, H. A. Norman, and J. E. Gillaspy, “Purslane in human nutrition and its potential for world agriculture,” World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 77, pp. 47–74, 1995.
  • P. Simopoulos and N. Salem Jr., “Purslane: a terrestrial source of omega-3 fatty acids,” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 315, no. 13, p. 833, 1986.
  • P. Simopoulos, “Evolutionary aspects of diet, essential fatty acids and cardiovascular disease,” European Heart Journal, vol. 3, pp. D8–D21.
  • U. R. Palaniswamy, R. J. McAvoy, and B. B. Bible, “Stage of harvest and polyunsaturated essential fatty acid concentrations in purslane (Portulaca oleraceae) leaves,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 49, no. 7, pp. 3490–3493, 2001.
  • M. K. Uddin, A. S. Juraimi, M. A. Hossain, F. Anwar, and M. A. Alam, “Effect of salt stress of Portulaca oleracea on antioxidant properties and mineral compositions,” Australian Journal Crop Science, vol. 6, pp. 1732–1736, 2012.

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