Purslane and Health Benefits

By: Elna Botes van Schalkwyk

Soft, succulent Purslane or "Pusley" has more omega-3 fatty acids than some of fish oils. If you are a vegetarian and want to avoid all forms of animal products, then here is the answer! Go for this healthy dark green leafy vegetable and soon you will forget fish!
Botanically, this herbaceous leafy vegetable belongs to the family of Portulacaceae and scientifically known as Portulaca oleracea.
Other common names for this green vegetable are pusley, pigweed or verdolaga.

Health benefits of Purslane:
This wonderful green leafy vegetable is very low in calories (just 16 kcal/100g) and fats; but is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh leaves contain surprisingly more Omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable plant. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves provides about 350 mg of α-linolenic acid. Research studies shows that consumption of foods rich in ω-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and also help prevent development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences in children.

It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, (1320 IU/100 g, provides 44% of RDA) one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A is a known powerful natural antioxidant and is essential for vision. This vitamin is also required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Purslane is also a rich source of vitamin C, and some B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese.
Also present in purslane are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish beta-cyanins and the yellow beta-xanthins. Both of these pigment types are potent anti-oxidants and have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties in laboratory studies. [Proc. West. Pharmacol. Soc. 45: 101-103 (2002)]

Preparation and serving methods:
The stems and flower buds are also edible. Trim the tough stems near roots using sharp knife. Cook under low temperature for shorter period in order to preserve majority of nutrients. Although antioxidant properties are significantly decreased on frying and boiling; minerals, carotenes and flavonoids may remain intact with steam cooking.

Here are some serving tips:
Fresh, raw leaves can be used as salad and as vegetable juice.

It has also being used in soup and curry preparations in many mouth watering purslane recipes in South Indian states.