Purslane, also known as a powerhouse of nutrition, has been used as a medicine for centuries. Also known as cat’s tongue, this plant was discovered by Henry David Thoreau in a cornfield, boiled it, and named it a “satisfactory dinner.” Purslane is native to Persia and India. It has spread throughout the world as an edible plant and a weed as well. There are many cultures around the world that embrace it as a food.
With fleshy, succulent leaves and stems with yellow flowers, Purslane looks like baby jade plants. The stem lay flat on the ground as they radiate from a single taproot sometimes forming large mats of leaves. It is very closely related to Rose Moss, grown as a “not so weedy” ornamental.
You can easily harvest this plant in your garden, for it is a weed. This broadleaf weed grows in the summer and can restrict the growth of turf grass. Usually, this weed grows on the thin or bare spots in a lawn.
Purslane – 4 Nutritional Facts and Benefits for Children
Widely grown in many European and Asian regions, Purslane is a staple leafy vegetable. The thick appearing leaves contain a mucilaginous substance that provides a slightly sour and salty taste. Leaves and tender stems are edible. Besides the succulent stems and leaves, the yellow flower buds are also favored, specifically in salads.
There are numerous health benefits associated with this amazing weed. The nutritional facts and some of the major benefits are listed ahead.
- Vitamin A : Purslane is loaded with vitamin A, as much as any other green leafy vegetable. Vitamin A is a known powerful natural antioxidant. It is essential for healthy vision. Besides, it is also required to maintain healthy skin. Consumption of vitamin rich fruits and natural vegetables helps to protect lung and oral cavity cancers. In addition to vitamin A, Purslane is also a good supplier of vitamin C and some B-complex vitamins, including niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and carotenoids.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids :Purslaneis one of the best known sources of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans, vegetarians, and other people who cannot or do not eat fish. As a matter of fact, Purslane is considered as the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids of all the cultivated green leafy vegetables. However, there are also some wild-growing green leaves, like stamnagathi and molokhia, that contain omega-3 fatty acids in amounts comparable to those found in Purslane. Purslane is an extremely good source of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. It has been proved through research that high intake of foods like walnuts, Purslane, figs, and Stamnagathi contributes exceptionally to good health by providing nutrients like ALA.
- Health boosting minerals: Besides being loaded with vitamins, Purslane also delivers a hefty dose of minerals. It is loaded with magnesium and calcium, which are important for maintaining healthy teeth, bones, and muscles. Besides, it also supplies a good amount of potassium, essential for avoiding problems related to high intake of salty foods. Also, Purslane intake supplies extra iron to the body, a crucial mineral required for oxygen transport within the body, and quintessential for young growing children.
- Antioxidant Vitamins: Another health benefit of Purslane for children is that it provides ample amount of antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin E. Just a cup of Purslane can provide as much as 15% of the daily value for vitamin C and 11% of the daily value for vitamin A. As is well known, antioxidants work wonders on scavenging free radicals, the harmful by-products of cellular metabolism, which can contribute to cancer and various other diseases. Also, antioxidants are good for children’s healthas they work on improvement of the metabolic system.
Preparation and Purslane Serving Methods
The flowers and stems of Purslane are also edible. To prepare, trim the tough stems near roots with a sharp knife. Cook it under low temperature for a shorter period so as to preserve the majority of nutrients. Although boiling or frying reduces the antioxidant properties, you can keep the minerals, carotenes, and flavonoids intact through steam cooking.
Some of the best serving methods for Purslane are listed ahead.
- You can use fresh, tender leaves in salads. Serve sautéed and gently stewed stems and leaves as a side dish with poultry and fish.
- Use fresh raw leaves in vegetable juice.
- Purslane can also be used in curry and soup preparations. Eat it with ragi cake and rice. It is used widely in south Indian regions as a part of many Purslane recipes that are simply mouthwatering. Purslane is very popular in parts of the erstwhile Mysore province of Karnataka state.
- Another way to serve Purslane is to stir fry and mix with other greens in the family, like vegetables and spinach. It can help you make favorite dishes.
Tips to maximize Purslane Benefits
Although Purslane is loaded with amazing health benefits, it is important to preserve these benefits through Purslane begins to lose the nutritional qualities as soon as it is harvested. Therefore, the best way to maximize Purslane health benefits is to grow and harvest it as required. If you don’t have a large garden or are worried about Purslane to take over the rest of your vegetation planting, it is better to grow it indoor as a microgreen. After all, Purslane is a weed!
This would require only an empty container, some potting soil, organic Purslane seeds, and a sunny window sill. Just sow the seeds, keep the soil moist, and watch your micro-Purslane grow. However, avoid over-watering.
Well, if gardening is not your cup of tea, you can check the popular farmers’ markets around your area. When looking for Purslane, keep in mind that this nutrient loaded green leafy vegetable has many different names, like golden Purslane, pursley, verdolaga, little hogweed, portulaca, and summer Purslane.
Also, make sure to go for fresh looking produce of Purslane. It has been proved through research that fresh Purslane stored at cooler temperatures contains higher nutritional value as compared to produce stored at room temperature.