What is purslane?
Purslane (scientific name: Portulaca oleracea), also called pigweed or little hogweed, is a succulent plant found worldwide. It can be eaten raw and cooked and is popularly used in various cuisines.
Leaves, stems, and flowers of purslane are edible and have a tart or salty taste. They are used for making salads, garnishing, and making soups and other savory dishes.
Despite being called a weed, purslane is quite beneficial for your health. It is used in alternative medicine to treat health conditions such as diabetes, oral lichen planus, asthma, and menstrual irregularities. There is, however, little scientific evidence to support these uses.
Nonetheless, it is full of vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that promote health and well-being.
The nutritional content of purslane
Purslane provides various beneficial nutrients at the cost of very few calories.
A cup of raw purslane (43 grams) contains 8.6 kcal, 39.9 grams of water, and the following nutrients:
|Total carbohydrates||1.46 g (grams)|
|Total fats||0.16 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg (milligrams)|
|Selenium||0.39 µg (micrograms)|
|Vitamin C||9.03 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.03 mg|
|Vitamin A||568 IU (international units)|
What are the health benefits of purslane?
- Vitamins: Purslane provides various vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin A that play a significant role in your body functions and prevention of diseases.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C performs several roles such as the formation of strong bones and teeth, healthy gums, blood vessels, and skin, and helps with wound healing and cellular regeneration. It is a powerful antioxidant.
- Vitamin A: It is essential for healthy vision and acts as a potent antioxidant. It maintains the health of the skin, mucous membranes, teeth, and bones.
- Folate and choline: Although choline is considered neither a vitamin nor a mineral, it is classified with B vitamins because of several similarities they possess. Folate and choline are important for healthy nervous system development in fetuses. Folate is required for red blood cell formation and cell growth and functioning. Choline helps with the proper functioning of the liver and brain.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are beneficial substances that protect your body against damaging free radicals. These free radicals can damage the cells in your body and lead to several diseases. Purslane contains various antioxidants that protect against this damage or oxidative stress. Some of the antioxidants in purslane include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Selenium (a mineral required for the formation of antioxidant compounds called selenoproteins in the body)
- Minerals: Minerals are important micronutrients that your body requires for various purposes. They help keep the water balance in the body and are required for the proper functioning of the heart, nerve cells, and muscles. Some of the minerals present in purslane include:
- Calcium: Required for healthy bones and teeth and proper functioning of the heart, nerves, and muscles
- Magnesium: Needed for proper nerve, muscle, and heart function and helps keep strong immunity and bones
- Phosphorous: Needed for proper growth, maintenance, and tissue repair and needed for the formation of DNA and RNA
- Potassium: Maintains fluid balance, helps maintain blood pressure and is required for proper heart functioning
- Iron: Needed for the formation of hemoglobin, myoglobin, and certain hormones and growth and development
- Zinc: Plays an important role in immune function, DNA formation, cell growth and repair, and building proteins
- Selenium: Component of various selenoproteins that play a vital role in fighting infections and preventing cell damage and thyroid function
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The three most important omega-3 fatty acids are called alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid.
- They are good for your heart, brain, and overall health.
- They fight inflammation and help maintain normal blood pressure and lipid levels.
- They have been found to prevent health conditions such as some types of cancer, depression, and schizophrenia.
- Moreover, they may help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Besides being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, purslane is free of cholesterol and trans fats.
- Fiber: Fiber is the nondigestible component of foods. It is a type of complex carbohydrate.
- Purslane is rich in fiber that has several health benefits such as:
- Aiding bowel function
- Improving gut immunity
- Helping manage weight
- Regulating blood cholesterol levels
- Promoting overall health
- It is recommended that women should consume at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, and men should have at least 30 to 38 grams a day.
- Purslane is rich in fiber that has several health benefits such as:
Are there any risks of eating purslane?
Although purslane is safe when eaten as a food, its usage as medicine has little safety information available so far.
Pregnant women and lactating mothers must particularly avoid consuming it in excess. Research suggests that purslane may stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women and can thus result in premature birth or miscarriage.
Some studies report that purslane increases urine formation although little data are available to ascertain its effect on kidney health. Because purslane is rich in oxalates, it can increase the risk of kidney stone formation.
Oxalates may interfere with the absorption of important minerals such as calcium. There is a risk of certain drug interactions with purslane, especially if you take multiple medications.
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