Health Benefits of Purslane

Some of the health benefits of purslane include its ability to help lose weight, boost heart health, help in the proper 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.

Although this may come as a surprise to many vegetable lovers, purslane may be the most important vegetable that hasn’t made its way into your diet! The main reason for this is that for many years, purslane has been considered little more than an annoying weed. In fact, it is scientifically known as an annual succulent and is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In the United States, it is usually ignored or pulled up and treated like any other invasive greenery in gardens and yards. The scientific name of purslane is Portulaca oleracea, and it has a slightly sour and salty taste that makes it an interesting addition to the palate. The entire plant, including the leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds, are edible and have been used for thousands of years in different variations.

Purslane most likely originated in the Mediterranean region, but it 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! In culinary usage, purslane is commonly used in soups, salads, and stews, 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, purslane has also been used in traditional medicine in China and parts of India. Let’s take a closer look at what nutrients make purslane such a powerhouse of human health.

PurslaneNutritional Value of Purslane

When this unusual “weed” became the subject of scientific study, researchers were shocked at what they found. This 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

Heart Health: In terms of boosting the strength of your cardiovascular system, purslane can help in a variety of ways. Most notably, researchers were shocked when they saw the very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in purslane, at levels higher than in some fish oils, which are widely considered the best source for 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 been shown to significantly reduce cardiovascular disease, 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 Aid: Purslane is very low in calories, but it is nutrient-rich and packed with dietary fiber. This means that people can feel full after a meal of purslane, but they won’t necessarily up their calorie intake by very much, thereby helping people who are struggling to lose weight or maintain their diets.

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

Gastrointestinal Diseases: Some people may shy away from alternative medicine treatments for their various health conditions, but in traditional Chinese medicine, purslane was widely used to treat everything from diarrhea and intestinal bleeding to hemorrhoids and dysentery. While most Western medicine wouldn’t confirm these findings, purslane (known as Ma Chi Xian in Chinese medicine) is still used to this day for a wide variety of intestinal conditions. These benefits are mainly attributed to the presence of so many beneficial organic compounds found in purslane, including dopamine, malic acid, citric acid, alanine, glucose, and many others.

Skin Conditions: Along with gastrointestinal issues, purslane can 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 on bee stings and snake bites when applied topically, but can also boost the healthy appearance of the skin, reduce wrinkles, and stimulate healing of skin cells to remove scars and blemishes when consumed.

Cancer Prevention: 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, purslane also contains betalain pigment compounds, which give the plant its distinctive yellow and red coloring. 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.

purslaneinfoVision Booster: Vitamin A and beta-carotene have both been connected to 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 commonly age-related diseases.

Strong Bones: The range of minerals present in purslane make it a healthy choice for people who want to protect their bones. 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 you prevent osteoporosis, a common age-related condition that affects millions of people.

Improved Circulation: The high content of iron and copper in purslane mean that it will stimulate the production of red blood cells. Both of these minerals are essential for boosting circulation, which means more oxygen being delivered to essential parts of the body, increased healing speed of cells and organs, increased hair growth, and a general improvement of metabolic efficiency!

A Final Word of Caution: The only potential downside that researchers have found about purslane is the relatively high content of oxalic acid, which can exacerbate the formation of oxalates in the body, which are what make kidney stones. If you already suffer from kidney stones, avoiding purslane might be a good idea. However, boiling purslane down in water causes a great deal of oxalic acid to be eliminated, without losing many of the other beneficial nutrients.

What do you think?

  • Doug Johnston

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

    • Carol Thompson

      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?

      • Doug Johnston

        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.

  • Ash Stevens

    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! 🙂

    • Carol Thompson

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

      • Doug Johnston

        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

  • 1Finngal

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

    • Carol Thompson

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

      • Doug Johnston

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

      • Carol Thompson

        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.

      • Doug Johnston

        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.

  • JV

    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.

  • Sophia Newsome

    Great info. Many thanks

  • Anthony

    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.

  • Lori Powell

    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.

  • Lori Powell

    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.

  • 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?

  • 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 🙂

Download our App