The health benefits of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) stem from its rich nutritional value, despite being regarded as a weed, it is loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, calcium, and iron including omega-3 fatty acids  which promote our health and well-being.
According to Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, the head of the Centre for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health, Purslane is one of the leafy greens with the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids .
Portulaca oleracea (Purslane) is a succulent plant that is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world and known by different names such as pigweed, little hogweed, fatweed, and pusley [3, 4]. It is a low-growing plant with fleshy leaves and stems that are edible. Purslane is often considered a weed, but it is a very nutritious food.
How to Grow Purslane
Purslane is a very easy plant to grow. It can be grown from seed or by transplanting seedlings. Purslane prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is a drought-tolerant plant, so it does not require a lot of water.
To grow purslane from seed, sow the seeds directly in the garden in spring or fall. The seeds should germinate in about 1-2 weeks. To transplant seedlings, space them about 6 inches apart. It does not need fertilizer, but adding it or other compost manure can improve its growth and wellness.
How to Eat Purslane
Incorporating Purslane into our diet may provide a culinary satisfaction that anyone looking for healthy leafy green can never forget.
Purslane can be eaten fresh, cooked, or pickled. It has a slightly sour taste that is similar to spinach. Purslane can be added to salads, cooked dishes, or used to make pesto.
Precautions for eating purslane
- Wash the leaves thoroughly with clean water plus salt before eating.
- Purslane is not harmful if eaten raw, but it is best to cook it for a few minutes to soften the leaves.
- To lower the risk of allergic reactions, it will be best if Purslane is added to soups, stews, and stir-fries, or used in making pesto, chutney, or pickles.
Health Benefits of Purslane
Purslane is a very nutritious food. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, calcium, and iron. Purslane also contains omega-3 fatty acids , which are beneficial for heart health.
According to findings, Purslane is rich in phytochemical compounds such as flavonoids, alkaloids, polysaccharides, fatty acids, terpenoids, sterols, proteins vitamins, and minerals .
In folk medicine, Portulaca oleracea is known for its significant role as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent . Its applications in making herbal remedies have also been linked to its neuroprotective, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, and anticancer properties [8, 9].
Here are 8 potential benefits of purslane.
- Improves heart health
- Boosts the immune system
- May improve the function of the liver
- Accelerate Wound healing
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- May protect against gastric ulcers
- Reduces inflammation
- Protects against cancer
Promotes heart health
Purslane is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids  which can help promote heart health. It may help lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, slow the development of plaque, reduce abnormal heart rhythm, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death [11, 12, 13].
Improves the function of the immune system
Antioxidants play an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system, Purslane is rich in these antioxidants, they help slow down aging, fight oxidative stress, and protect us from cellular damage, and DNA alterations. They also help to lower the risk of chronic diseases [14, 15, 16, 17].
May improve the function of the liver
According to a review, Portulaca oleracea (Purslane) possesses hepato-protective potential, which may help protect the liver from toxins . Although this study suggests that extract from this plant may protect the liver against hepatotoxic agents. However, human-centered research is needed to fully understand its mechanism of action [19, 20].
Accelerates Wound healing
Evaluation of wound healing potential of Portulaca oleracea (Purslane) on mice suggests that Portulaca oleracea has potential as a wound healing agent.
During the test, fresh homogenized crude aerial parts of Portulaca oleracea were applied topically on the excision wound surface in single and two doses in different amounts. This application accelerated the wound healing process by decreasing the surface area of the wound and increasing the tensile strength . Similarly, studies have equally recognized the wound-healing potential of this plant [22, 23, 24].
Lowers blood sugar levels
2023 Recent review suggest that Purslane may be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes, due to its glycemic control potential. It was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials involving 1122 participants .
The results showed that purslane consumption significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress. However, it did not affect hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a measure of long-term blood sugar control, fasting insulin, or HOMA-IR, a measure of insulin resistance.
May protect against gastric ulcers
A recent study investigation into the gastroprotective effects of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of purslane in mice, suggests that extract of this plant can be used as a potential treatment for gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcers and gastritis .
Although, this study was done on mice, however, research centered on humans is needed to validate these claims.
Portulaca oleracea extract has been reported in several studies to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A supporting study on rats noted that extract from this plant can suppress lung inflammation and improve lung function in rats with LPS-induced acute lung injury. This is attributed to its anti-inflammatory potential .
Another related study suggests that extract from this plant can be a promising herb with potential therapeutic benefits that have been linked to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties .
Protects against cancer
The antiproliferative potential of purslane has been evaluated in an in vitro study, the result suggests that extract from this plant significantly inhibited tumor cell growth in a time- and dose-dependent fashion. The result of the study is promising, however, it still requires a human-centered study to fully comprehend the extent of its antiproliferative potential and mechanism of action .
Side Effects of Purslane
May increase the risk of kidney stones.
Antinutrients are compounds with the ability to interfere with the absorption of other nutrients in our body for example Oxalates, which are also present in these plants, This means excessive intake may lower nutrient absorption [33, 34].
It’s important to lessen our intake of raw purslane, or at best, it should be added to other baked goods or salad, cooked for a few minutes to reduce the concentration of these anti-nutrients.
Purslane is generally safe to eat, but it can cause some minor side effects in some people such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and allergic reaction.
If you experience any side effects after eating purslane, stop eating it and consult with a doctor.
Purslane is a very healthy and nutritious food. It is easy to grow and can be eaten fresh, cooked, or pickled. If you are looking for a way to boost your health, adding purslane to your diet is a great option.
JC is passionate about finding the impact of foods (feeding habits) on human fertility and reproductive health and a way to improve fertility.