10 Amazing Benefits of Purslane

The health benefits of purslane include its ability to aid weight loss, improve heart health, ensure healthy growth and development of children, treat certain gastrointestinal diseases, prevent certain cancers, protect the skin, boost vision, strengthen the immune system, build strong bones, and increase circulation.

What is Purslane?

Purslane is a leafy vegetable that most likely originated in the Mediterranean region. The scientific name of purslane is Portulaca oleracea and it is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It is an annual succulent with a slightly sour and salty taste that makes it an interesting addition to the palate. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds are edible and have been used for thousands of years in different variations.

Purslane has been in use since prehistoric times, and is widely referred to in ancient Chinese medicine, as well as in early aboriginal culture as far away as in Australia! But in the United States, it is usually ignored or pulled up and treated like any other invasive greenery in gardens and yards.

Uses of Purslane

In culinary usage, purslane is commonly used in soups, salads, and stews. It is added to meat dishes as a flavorful element and is also mixed with dough to make certain delicious bread varieties in various cultures. Overall, the unique flavor and extremely beneficial nutrients contained in purslane make it one of the best-kept secrets in the vegetable world. But the secret is definitely out, and people are beginning to cultivate purslane in greater numbers around the world. Aside from culinary usages, it has also been used as traditional medicine for curing various diseases in China and India.

Let’s take a closer look at what nutrients make purslane such a powerhouse of human health.

PurslanePurslane Nutrition Facts

When this unusual ‘weed’ became the subject of scientific study, researchers were shocked at what they found. Purslane vegetable has extremely high levels of omega-3 fatty acids for a land vegetable, as well as significant amounts of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, B-family vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, and copper. Furthermore, the betalain pigments (powerful antioxidant compounds) and carotenoids round out this veritable treasure trove of nutrients and beneficial organic compounds.

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

In terms of boosting the strength of your cardiovascular system, purslane can help in a variety of ways. Most notably, researchers found high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in purslane, higher than in some fish oils, which are widely considered the best source of these beneficial fatty acids. Omega-3s help to reduce the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body and promote a healthier cholesterol balance in our bloodstream. Consuming foods that are high in omega-3s has shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as atherosclerosis, thereby preventing heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, the potassium found in purslane can reduce blood pressure due to its behavior as a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes blood vessels and reduces strain on the heart.

Weight Loss

Purslane is very low in calories, but is nutrient-rich and packed with high dietary fiber. This means that people can feel full after a meal of purslane, without significantly increasing calorie intake, and thereby helping them lose weight and maintain the diet.

Promotes Child Development

Although research is still ongoing, early studies have shown that high levels of omega-3s in young children’s diet have resulted in a decrease in certain developmental disorders, including autism, ADHD, and other issues that affect millions of children across the world.

Treats Gastrointestinal Diseases

Some people may shy away from alternative medicine treatments for their various health conditions, but in traditional Chinese medicine, purslane (known as Ma Chi Xian in Chinese medicine) was widely used to treat everything from diarrhea and intestinal bleeding to hemorrhoids and dysentery. And even today it is used to treat a wide variety of intestinal conditions. These benefits are mainly attributed to the organic compounds found in purslane, including dopamine, malic acid, citric acid, alanine, glucose, and many others.

Skin Care

Along with gastrointestinal issues, purslane can help treat a wide variety of skin conditions as well. The high levels of vitamin A, combined with the cocktail of compounds found in this ‘weed’ mean that it can help to reduce inflammation caused by bee stings and snake bites when applied topically. It improves skin health and appearance, reduces wrinkles, and stimulates the healing of skin cells to remove scars and blemishes when consumed.

Prevents Cancer

One of the most widespread and tragic diseases in the world today is cancer, so any anti-carcinogenic food item is highly praised. Purslane has significant levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which act as antioxidants to prevent certain cancers, specifically lung and oral cancers. However, it also contains betalain pigment compounds, which give the plant its distinctive yellow and red color. Beta-cyanins and beta-xanthins have been directly connected with anti-mutagenic effects in the body, meaning that they prevent free radicals from causing mutations in healthy cells, thereby helping to prevent the development of cancer.

purslaneinfoImproves Vision

Vitamin A and beta-carotene have both been connected to improved eye health and vision for many years. Purslane can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts by eliminating free radicals that attack the cells of the eye and cause these common age-related diseases.

Strengthens Bones

The minerals present in purslane make it a healthy choice for people who want to prevent bone loss. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are all elements required to develop bone tissue and speed the healing process of the bones in our body. This can help in preventing osteoporosis, a common age-related condition that affects millions of people.

Improves Circulation

The high content of iron and copper in purslane means that it will 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 and increasing the healing speed of cells and organs. Further, iron and copper also aid in improving hair growth and metabolic efficiency!

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, avoiding it might be a good idea. However, boiling it in water causes a great deal of oxalic acid to be eliminated, without losing many of the other beneficial nutrients.

What do you think? |
22 comments in this article's discussion
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My region quite popular with using this purslane in making soup with crabs or lobsters blended.

Meenakshi Nagdeve

Hi Hduc Nguyen, That's great to know
Team Organic Facts

Great story, but the picture does not look anything like wild purslane. I suggest you get a more distinctive picture.

Looks exactly like (Winter) Purslane to me! I'm in the UK and get it from my local farmers market. Maybe your "wild" purslane is not the same thing?

The article is about Purslane and its health benefits, but the picture is of a different plant entirely, I think the plant pictured is Winter Purslane, which is an entirely different thing.

Love me some Purslane! I'm pretty sure these pictures are of another wild edible known as Claytonia though. Another weed worthy of your kitchen! 🙂

Looks just like (Winter) Purslane to me! I buy it from my local farmers market (UK).

Aha Carol, I think you may have identified the plant in the incorrect photograph?

Winter Purslane or Claytonia is a good plant in itself, but is not the
purslane that is discussed in the article. Which is Portulaca oleracea.

Whoever wrote the article, made a mistake and they wrote the article
about Purslane and put a picture of Winter Purslane on it in error.

If you note in the article where they mention the name Purslane
(Portulaca oleracea) , and then do a Google search on that,you will see how
they made the error

These photos do not look like Purslane. Do a google search for purslane, images, and you'll see.

Errr ...this looks exactly like (Winter) Purslane to me (in the UK).

Hi Carol, See my previous reply. The article is about Portulaca oleracea and it's health benefits. Winter Purslane is an entirely different plant.

Hi Doug,
Thanks for the info. I did not know there was a difference but yes, the plant in the picture is what we call Winter Purslane. It's pretty nice tasting.

The Purslane is also nice tasting even as a salad with a slight lemony tang especially when picked early in the morning. It is one of those plants that the chemistry changes during the day. The only caveat is the amount of oxalic acid can anectdotally lead to kydney stones if too much is eaten uncooked.

My mother made it quite often. Here I was recently introduced to it again by accident and now grow it in my own garden. Plantain is also one of my favourites in green smoothies.

Great info. Many thanks

This plant is widely used in Mexican cuisine in soups and salads. In the wild I try to eat in morning when they are fresh and full. I also get mine from the Mexican produce markets. It is also know as Verdolaga in Spanish. I wash mine and allow them to soak in water to plump up the leaves. I grind and press mine in my Norwalk juicer. From my understanding of oxalic acid, it is less of a problem when consumed raw. This is based on Norman Walker's book "Fresh Vegetable and Juices". I would be interested in more modern research on the properties of oxalic acid.

I really wish I really knew more what this looked like as I seem to have many weeds, possibly herbs that I pull all the time.

I really wish I really knew more what this looked like as I seem to have many weeds, possibly herbs that I pull all the time.

Gytė Dainauskaitė

Jai skaitai sia zinute po 7 dienu mirsi.

Persiusk sia į 10 psl. Įr liksi gyvas sorry

Roger Christos

That picture looks more like clover than purslane. Purslane looks more like a succulent. I started eating this "weed" from my garden last year when I found out what it was. Kind of like spinach. And it does this weird chemical thing, where it's bitter in the morning hours but not so in the afternoon. Does anyone post on this site? I don't want to be the only one. OK?

Meenakshi Nagdeve

Thanks Roger for your feedback. And people do post on our website 🙂

Roger Christos

That picture looks more like clover than purslane. Purslane looks more like a succulent. I started eating this "weed" from my garden last year when I found out what it was. Kind of like spinach. And it does this weird chemical thing, where it's bitter in the morning hours but not so in the afternoon. Does anyone post on this site? I don't want to be the only one. OK?