The Herb Purslane Is A Nutritional Powerhouse

Portulaca oleracea

The lovely, moist succulent known as purslane, is 93% water, features dark magenta stems, and rich green, rounded leaves. Also known as Portulaca oleracea, this nutritious, edible weed has collected some colorful nicknames over the years, including: little hogweed, pigweed, and fatweed.

A first-century historian named “Pliny the Elder” suggested that Romans used purslane as the primary vegetable during dinners and as a crunchy addition to salads. Some 18th-century French farmers were known to hate the plant, saying “it’s a mischievous weed meant for pigs.” The herb can be found in Africa, North America, Asia, and Australia. 

Some say that Europe is purslane’s native home, but given its succulence, it most likely originated nearer to deserts. The plant has been native to India, Greece, and Persia for centuries, but may have first appeared in North Africa some 4,000 years ago. Some archeologists suggest the plant is prehistoric. Slightly sour and infused with nuanced flavors akin to watercress and spinach, the fleshy purslane is loved by millions throughout the world. 

This jade-like plant can be sautéed, juiced, boiled, pickled, drenched in butter, or featured in a delicious salad with oil, salt, and vinegar. It’s a versatile weed that can be grabbed from the Earth and immediately consumed. As it’s often found in plentiful heaps strewn across the countryside, the plant is easy to grow and has provided helpful sustenance throughout the ages, especially during times of famine.

“I have made a satisfactory dinner on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane, which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled, and salted.” — Henry Thoreau

Backed by a colorful and fruitful history, purslane promises a long list of wonderful health benefits. It’s remarkable that this one plant can provide so much for us!

  • Aids in weight loss
  • Improves and protects cardiovascular health
  • Strengthens bones
  • Reduces eye inflammation
  • Reduces inflammation on or near stings, bites, and cuts
  • Can improve vision and reduces cataracts
  • Can improve circulation
  • Heals some digestive tract diseases
  • Helps prevent anemia
  • Reduces appearance of wrinkles and blemishes
  • Reduces effects of childhood disorders like autism and ADHD
  • Helpful to the liver
  • A natural diuretic
  • Reduces occurrences of psoriasis
  • Treats headaches
  • Helpful for diseases related to the intestine, liver, stomach, cough, shortness of breath, and arthritis
  • Chock-full of antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals

Purslane is wonderful for our health in a variety of situations, but it’s also a superfood. This leafy green vegetable is action-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and a variety of helpful minerals. In addition to the value derived from its unique pigments, purslane is truly one of the most generous and nutritive foods on planet Earth. 

  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Glutathione
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins A, E, and C
  • Highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid

Many scientific studies focused on purslane have shown that it’s of better nutritional quality than most of the world’s major cultivated vegetables. It’s also popular in Chinese medicine for the treatment of hypertension.  

While all the good news might make you want to run out and harvest baskets full of purslane, the herb should only be consumed in modest portions. Infused with 1.7% oxalic acid, it can do more than just agitate folks with digestive disorders and kidney stones. Since oxalates can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb minerals, for some, the herb can be problematic. If you love purslane and refuse to give up the obsession, you can combine the weed with yogurt or kefir, which will decrease the herb’s levels of oxalates. 

Yummy Purslane Recipes

Here are a few simple ways to enjoy Purslane:

Purslane Salad: Chop your purslane leaves with some radishes, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Add splashes of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Purslane Spinach Sauté: Heat some oil, butter, and garlic in a pan, throw in a few cups of lightly chopped spinach and purslane. Cook for no longer than 2 minutes. Add a bit of honey and salt to taste.

Stuffed Purslane Avocados: Cut (4) avocados in half, scoop out the avocado meat (save the 8 half-shells), and mix in a bowl with lightly chopped purslane. Add a little chili pepper, some lemon juice, olive oil, and walnuts. When your concoction is well-mixed, scoop it back into your avocado shells.

Purslane & Your Favorite Meats: Purslane is a delicious companion to duck, lamb, and fish. After cooking your meat with garlic, marjoram, curry, and/or salt, add a cup or two of freshly chopped purslane. 

Peaches & Purslane: Chop together a few peaches and a cup of purslane, and you’ll enjoy a nicely balanced flavor of sweet and sour. Add an ounce or two of freshly squeezed orange juice. Some might also add a sprinkle of salt or spice.

Vegetarians And Futurists Unite!

Because purslane is such a significant source of omega-3 oils, it can be a vital contributor to the health of vegetarians and vegans, who tend to avoid fish-derived oils. With uncommon nutritional value, purslane will most likely emerge as one of the most important foods in our Earth’s future. It’s quick to grow, easy to harvest, and doesn’t require a host of fertilizers. With more than 500 known species, purslane is available throughout the world. 



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The Healing Benefits of Pineapple

Fruit for Thought: Pineapple

The Pineapple* (Ananas Comosus*) is a tropical plant with edible fruit. It has a bright yellow fibrous inner flesh that is naturally very sweet and best when ripe. Its aroma is pleasant, and the juice thirst quenching. Pineapple does not ripen well post-harvest, and it is available year-round.

**Botanical name:
**Ananas comosus, the most economically significant plant in the Bromeliaceae family.

**Native to:
**The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Columbus encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the Leeward island of Guadeloupe. He called it piña de Indias, meaning “pine of the Indians,” and brought it back with him to Europe, thus making the pineapple the first bromeliad to leave the New World. Many say the fruit was first introduced in Hawaii when a Spanish ship brought them there in the 1500s. The fruit was cultivated successfully in European hothouses beginning in 1720.

Healing Benefits:
As a very subtle healer of many body ailments, below is a list of some of the benefits of pineapple:

  • Its most essential ingredient is bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory and painkiller. In the upper respiratory tract, bromelain fights bronchitis and sinusitis. Bromelain is effective in healing stomach ulcers and repairing body tissues.
  • Pineapple juice contains natural collagen which boosts the immune system.
  • Damaged, chapped or burnt skin can be reconditioned by drinking pineapple juice.
  • Pineapple contains detoxifying elements and chemicals that stimulate kidney functions.
  • Helpful in treating bruises, cuts, muscle pain, arthritis, joint pain, sprains, and back pain. Pineapple has proven to positively supplement recovery from knee injury, reduce fever, body wrinkles, and aid digestion.
  • Consuming pineapple often drastically reduces recovery after surgery.
  • Excellent antidote for cardio-vascular disease due to its ability to break-down cholesterol compounds.

**CAUTION:
**Children should not eat it in excess as it can cause gingivitis in children.

Recipe: Spiced Tropical Fruit Compote

Makes: 6 servings, 2/3 cup each Active Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes

Whole spices give a subtle but distinct flavor to this tropical fruit compote. Here the fruit is not cooked in the syrup, but simply macerated so that the taste remains fresh and distinct. The spiced syrup is also a wonderful sweetener for hot tea or as a base for a veggie-stir-fry.

**Ingredients: **

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice, (2 limes)
10 whole cardamom pods
8 whole allspice berries
8 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
3 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 mangoes or papayas, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
2 seedless tangerines or small oranges, peeled and sliced
2 star fruit (carambolas), thinly sliced
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 banana, peeled and cut into thick slices

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, pineapple juice, lime zest and juice in a small saucepan.
  2. Tie the spices in a small cheesecloth bag and add it to the saucepan.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  6. Toss all the fruit in a serving bowl.
  7. Add syrup and stir gently.
  8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove spice bag and serve.
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