For many years, purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) has been overlooked as little more than a common weed. However, purslane is actually classified as an annual succulent, and widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Sadly, it’s largely ignored in the United States. The plant has a slightly sour, salty taste, and all of the leaves, flowers, seeds, and stem are edible.
Purslane is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region, but has been used since prehistoric times the world over, namely in Chinese medicine, as well as Australian aboriginal cultures. Usually added as a culinary implement to dishes such as soups, salads, stews, and breads, the plant can also be taken as a supplement or tea.
Portulaca Oleracea has recently undergone a major comeback in the health & wellness world, and here are just a few of the many benefits this not-so-weedy plant carries after all!
1. Heart Health:
Potassium and Omega-3 fatty acids are well known heart health boosters, both of which can be found in purslane. Potassium helps lower the blood pressure while Omega-3 fatty acids work to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol that can accumulate in the body.
According to a featured article in Organic Facts, researchers were shocked do discover extremely high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in purslane, much higher in fact than in some fish oils. Consuming foods that are rich in Omega-3s can not only reduce cardiovascular disease, but also atherosclerosis, preventing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, the potassium-rich purslane can help reduce blood pressure due to acting as a vasodilator, which means it relaxes the blood vessels, eliminating strain on the heart.
2. Cancer Prevention:
Purslane contains powerful levels of anti-carcinogenic vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which work to reduce the risk of certain cancers, namely lung and oral cancers. Purslane additionally contains betalain pigment compounds, responsible for the plant’s faint yellow hue. Beta-cyanins and beta-xanthins have been scientifically proven to prevent free radicals from causing mutations in healthy cells, which can potentially lead to the development of cancer.