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Eat The Weeds: Episode 91: Purslane

Purslane nutrition facts Soft, succulent purslane leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than in some of the fish oils. If you are a vegetarian and pledge to avoid all forms of animal products, then here is the answer! Go for this healthy dark-green leafy vegetable and soon you will forget fish!


Botanically, this herbaceous leafy vegetable belongs to the family of Portulacaceae and scientifically known as Portulaca oleracea.

Other common names in place for this green leafy vegetable are pursley, pigweed, or verdolaga.

Purslane is native to Indian sub-continent and now widely distributed across the continents actually as a wild weed. There exist varieties of pusley with variation in leaf size, thickness and leaf arrangement and pigment distribution. It is actually hard herb plant requiring comparatively less water and soil nutrients and grows well in sunny conditions. The plant grows up to 12-15 cm in height as a low-lying spread.

Pursley is widely grown in many Asian and European regions as a staple leafy vegetable. Its leaves appear thick, contain mucilaginous substance, and have a slightly sour and salty taste. Leaves and tender stems have a slightly sour, and salty taste. In addition to succulent stems and leaves, its yellow flower buds are also edible.

Purslane seeds, appear like black tea powder, are often used to make some herbal drinks.

Health benefits of Purslane

This wonderful green leafy vegetable is very low in calories (just 16 kcal/100g) and fats; nonetheless, it is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Fresh leaves contain surprisingly more omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable plant. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves provide about 350 mg of α-linolenic acid. Research studies show that consumption of foods rich in ω-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and help prevent the development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences in children.

It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, (1320 IU/100 g, provides 44% of RDA) one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A is a known powerful natural antioxidant and is essential for vision. This vitamin is also required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Purslane is also a rich source of vitamin C, and some B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese.

Furthermore, present in purslane are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish beta-cyanins and the yellow beta-xanthins. Both pigment types are potent anti-oxidants and have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties in laboratory studies. [Proc. West. Pharmacol. Soc. 45: 101-103 (2002)].

Selection and storage

In the store, buy fresh and healthy-looking purslane; look carefully for mold, yellow or dark spots as they indicate inferior quality. Go for organic product whenever feasible.

Wash fresh leaves and stem in clean cold running water in order to remove any soil and insecticide/fungicide residues. After removing from water, mop it with soft cloth to remove any moisture in them before storing in the refrigerator.

purslane can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days but should be eaten while the leaves are fresh and not wilted. 

Preparation and serving methods

The stems and flower buds are also edible. Trim the tough stems near roots using a sharp knife. Cook under low temperature for a shorter period in order to preserve the majority of nutrients. Although antioxidant properties are significantly decreased on frying and boiling, its minerals, carotenes and flavonoids may remain intact with steam cooking.

Here are some serving tips:

Fresh, raw leaves can be used as salad and as vegetable juice.

Fresh, tender leaves are used in salads. Sautéed and gently stewed stems and leaves served as a side dish with fish and poultry.

It has also been used in soup and curry (Goni soppu curry) preparations and eaten with rice and ragi cake (ragi mudde) in many mouthwatering purslane recipes in South Indian states.

Stew fried and mixed with other greens such as spinach and vegetables are favorite dishes among Asians.

Safety profile

Purslane contains oxalic acid, a naturally-occurring substance found in some vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1.31 g of oxalic acid, more than in spinach (0.97 g/100 g) and cassava (1.26 g/100 g). It is therefore, people with known oxalate urinary tract stones are advised to avoid eating purslane and certain vegetables belonging to amaranthaceae and Brassica family. Adequate intake of water is therefore advised to maintain normal urine output. (Medical disclaimer).

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), raw, fresh,

Nutritive value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)


Posted by George Freund on January 30, 2014 at 12:18 PM 2682 Views