Often weeded from gardens, purslane is an edible groundcover that is full of omega-3s and magnesium. Try purslane for six medicinal uses or you can try the underrated superfood in any of these five purslane recipes.
What is Purslane?
Purslane is a thick-stemmed succulent groundcover plant that has tiny, yellow flowers. It's so hearty in the summer that it's pulled as a weed by gardeners. But, due to its nutritional value and unique flavor, it often sells in farmers markets for up to $7 a pound. You can harvest your own wild purslane, especially in southern California and Mexico where it's plentiful. But be sure to avoid purslane growing through streets or nearby sidewalks since it may be high in heavy metals.
Purslane tastes like a milder and crunchier watercress. The succulent's leaves have a light lemon-pepper flavor. It can be used as a substitute for spinach or other greens. But purslane's best feature is its nutrient density. It has the highest omega-3 fatty acids of any leafy vegetable---it's in the same omega-3 range of flax seeds, algae and fish. Purslane is also high in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and age-defying bioflavonoids. Purslane contains two types of antioxidants that prevent cell mutation. Be wary, however, if you're prone to kidney stones since purslane contains oxalate.
If it's not in your yard, you can find purslane---also known as verdolaga---at farmers markets and Mexican, Latin or Mediterranean markets. Be sure to clean your greens properly before preparing them.
6 Medicinal Uses for Purslane
- Caffeine Antidote: Since purslane is full of magnesium and melatonin, it's a great antidote if you've consumed too much caffeine. Purslane will reduce caffeine's side effects like the jitters and sleeplessness.
- Immune Booster: Since it's high in calcium, magnesium and numerous other vitamins and minerals, purslane can bolster your immune system.
- Insulin Booster: Purslane is believed to support the body's own insulin supply. Purslane extract can stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, according to numerous studies cited by the National Institutes of Health.
- Psoriasis Treatment: Foods high in omega-3s, like purslane, prevent leukotriene production. For psoriasis sufferers, this can prevent the inflammation that leads to the itchy, scaly, red skin associated with the condition.
- Heart Health: Low magnesium levels contribute to cardiac arrhythmia risk. Consuming 250 mg of magnesium a day can reduce arrhythmia risk and lower your blood pressure. One cup of purslane contains about 30 mg of magnesium.
- Headache Prevention: Some chronic tension headache and migraine sufferers are impacted by magnesium deficiency. Purslane can help you get the 600 mg of magnesium a day needed to regulate your magnesium levels and reduce headache risk.
5 Recipes Using Purslane
- Purslane Pesto: Purslane, walnuts, lemon juice and a little olive oil make a delightfully simple pesto sauce. It's super easy to whip up in a mini food processor.
- Tomato Cucumber Purslane Salad: Pair your purslane with two other summer favorites, tomatoes and cucumber, for a crisp summer salad.
- Purslane Spring Salad: Spice up your spring salads with purslane instead of your usual spring greens. Purslane will add a citrusy flavor to your favorite salad.
- Stir-Fried Purslane: Want to try this treat unadulterated by other flavors? Stir fry the stems lightly with just a bit of olive oil. Add your favorite fresh herbs if you like.
- Pickled Purslane: If you're overwhelmed with purslane in your yard, try pickling a few cans so you can enjoy the greens as a tangy treat over the winter months.