Purslane: Nutrition & Health Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of purslane include its ability to aid in weight loss, improve heart health, and ensure healthy growth and development of children. It also protects the skin, builds strong bones, and increases circulation.

What is Purslane?

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a leafy vegetable that most likely originated in the Mediterranean region. It is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. 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.

As mentioned, purslane has been in use since prehistoric times and is widely referred to in ancient Chinese medicine, as well as in early aboriginal culture. However, in the United States, it is usually ignored and treated like any other invasive weed in gardens and yards. Let’s shed some light on its nutrition and benefits profile below.

Nutrition Facts

Purslane, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]92.86
Energy [kcal]20
Energy [kJ]84
Protein [g]2.03
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.36
Ash [g]1.36
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.39
Calcium, Ca [mg]65
Iron, Fe [mg]1.99
Magnesium, Mg [mg]68
Phosphorus, P [mg]44
Potassium, K [mg]494
Sodium, Na [mg]45
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.17
Copper, Cu [mg]0.11
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.3
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]21
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.11
Niacin [mg]0.48
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.04
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, total [µg]12
Folate, food [µg]12
Folate, DFE [µg]12
Choline, total [mg]12.8
Vitamin A, IU [IU]1320
Sources include : USDA

Purslane Nutrition Facts

When this unusual ‘weed’ became the subject of scientific study, researchers were shocked at what they found! Purslane plants have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. As per the USDA, purslane is also a rich source of water and energy. It contains good quantities of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. It is also packed with certain vitamins like vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin A.

Health Benefits of Purslane

Purslane has many benefits that help in preventing and curing diseases. Let’s discuss the benefits in detail below:

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) or bad cholesterol in the body, as per a research published in the Scientific World Journal. This helps to promote a healthier cholesterol balance in our bloodstream.

A bowl of fresh purslane on a wooden table, next to a dinner napkin

Purslane is s great to use in salads, soups, and stews. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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.

The high content of iron and copper in purslane means that it helps 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!

Weight Loss

As per research, purslane contains 20 calories per 100 grams serving of it. Being low in calories, while being nutrient-rich and packed with dietary fiber, purslane makes for a good addition in a weight loss diet. According to an animal study published in the Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, purslane extract was shown to have anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects on its test subjects.

Promotes Child Development

Purslane contains plenty of good fatty acids (omega-3s). Although research is still ongoing, early studies have shown that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of young children seem to decrease some of the signs and symptoms in certain developmental disorders, including autism and ADHD.

Skin Care

Purslane may help treat a wide variety of skin conditions as well. A study published in 2004 revealed that purslane leaves contain high levels of vitamin A. This vitamin, combined with the cocktail of compounds found in this ‘weed’ means that it can help reduce inflammation when applied topically. When consumed it may aid in improving skin, reduce wrinkles, and stimulate the healing of skin cells to remove scars and blemishes.

As per another study published in the journal of Pharmacopuncture, the topical application of purslane leaves can also help with skin allergies.

Strengthens Bones

The minerals present in purslane make it a healthy choice for people who want to mitigate bone loss. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are all elements required to develop bone tissue and speed the healing process of the bones. Purslane also has anti-inflammatory potential that may aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, a common age-related condition that affects millions of people.

Uses of Purslane

  • In culinary pursuits, purslane is commonly used in soups, salads, and stews. A University of Illinois newsletter suggests that ham and purslane on rye bread are delicious.
  • It is added to meat dishes as a flavorful element and is also mixed with dough to make certain delicious bread varieties.
  • Aside from culinary usages, it has also been used as traditional medicine for curing various diseases in China and India.

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.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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