Purslane is an herbaceous plant belonging to Portulacaceae family and is scientifically known as Portulaca oleracea. This plant may have been cultivated more than 4,000 years ago. It was used by Hippocrates as a medicine. In a fourth century Greek text, it is mentioned that purslane can be found in almost all Greek kitchen gardens. Even Henry David Thoreau ate purslane for dinner!
This plant is native to India and Persia and has spread as a weed and as an edible plant. Today it is widely grown in many Asian and European regions and most Europeans include purslane in their meals. It is commonly found all over the United States.
Purslane is an annual plant that reproduces from seeds and stems. Its seed can stay dormant under the soil for 40 years. The leaves and stems are both succulent and fleshy with yellow flowers. The stems lays close to the ground as they spread from a single taproot. It is similar to spinach, but less tannic and to arugula but less bitter. It contain mucilaginous substance with a slightly salty and sour taste. The seeds are used to make herbal drinks.
Considered by some as troublesome weed, this plant is in fact filled with key nutrients needed by the body. This superfood is neither a vegetable nor an herb, but actually a succulent and is packed with so much nutrition surpassing vegetable like cabbage, swiss chards, and beets.
It contains alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega 3 fatty acid, in the level of 4000ppm that is more than some fish oil. Now, we all know that Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to lower blood pressure and cholesterol for a healthy heart. The superior level of ALA, not only assist in controlling the symptoms of autism and ADHD, but also improves brain function and treat mental illness as well. It’s even highly effective and safer than omega 3 supplements.
This plant can counter depression. It is one of the known five herbs that is very rich in antidepressant substances. Purslane can boost the absorption of other nutrients. It is an abundant source of vitamin A, C, and E as well as an exceptional source of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and calcium, including tryptophan and phenylalanine all known to curb the effects of depressive brain chemicals. This food is naturally low in calories but high in fiber. It’s an ideal food for weight watchers without sacrificing nutrition.
Individuals with urinary tract stones are to avoid eating purslane as it contains oxalic acids, which can crystallize and worsen the condition. However, boiling purslane down in water can reduce a great deal of oxalic acid, without losing many of its beneficial nutrients.
An annoying weed?...I don’t’ think so!
Have you any experience with purslane?...Would love to hear it.
Photo by: http://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/PPDL/images/Common-purslane.jpg