Purslane Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Purslane

Verywell Fit / Valerie de Leon

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) is a green succulent plant found all over the world. Most widely recognized as a weed, it has a long history of medicinal uses in Asia and Mediterranean regions, with the World Health Organization calling it a "Global Panacea."

Also referred to as little hogweed or verdolaga, purslane can be a healthy addition to your diet—if you can find it. This leafy green is not commonly found in stores but is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and can provide certain health benefits related to its antioxidant capacity.

Purslane Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw purslane (43g) provides 8.6 calories, 0.9g of protein, 1.5g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Purslane is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and iron. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 8.6
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 19.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.5g
  • Fiber: Not provided
  • Sugars: Not provided
  • Protein: 0.9g
  • Vitamin C: 9mg
  • Potassium: 212mg
  • Iron: 0.9mg
  • Magnesium: 29.2mg

Carbs

​Purslane is very low in carbohydrates, providing 1.5 grams per cup of raw greens. Some studies have found that purslane leaves contain up to 11 different sugars. Though, the amount of these sugars would be low since the total carb count is so low.

Purslane has a low glycemic index rating. The glycemic index is a system used to help determine the effect foods have on blood glucose levels. The lower the rating, the lower the effects.

Fats

​According to the USDA, purslane only contains 0.2 grams of fat per cup. The database does not provide any further information about the make-up of its fatty acid content.

Yet, research indicates that purslane is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid. It also provides a small amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is typically only found in seafood and fortified products.

Getting more EPA and DHA from foods or supplements can help to lower triglyceride levels according to the National Institutes of Health.

Protein

Purslane contains a small amount of protein, just 0.9 grams per cup. This makes it a low-protein food.

Vitamins and Minerals

​Purslane is nutrient-dense, meaning that it contains a lot of micronutrients in a small portion of food. One cup provides roughly 10% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C and 6% to 8% of the adequate intake of potassium.

Add purslane to your diet and you will consume 0.9 mg of iron and 29.2 mg of magnesium per serving, contributing to your daily intake of these important nutrients. There is also vitamin A, manganese, calcium, selenium, and B-vitamins in this green.

Calories

Each one-cup serving of purslane provides 8.6 calories. That makes its calorie count similar to that of iceberg lettuce, another leafy green that provides 10 calories per cup of shredded leaves.

Summary

Purslane is a very low-calorie food that supplies minimal carbs, fat, and protein. But what it does supply is a lot of vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C, potassium, iron, and magnesium.

Health Benefits

Purslane’s medicinal uses date back to ancient Roman times and traditional Chinese medicine, where it was referred to as the “vegetable for long life.” It has been used for a variety of ailments, including burns, headaches, and gastrointestinal disorders.

While there is not enough evidence to support the use of purslane for these purposes as studies are still ongoing, here are a few scientifically supported benefits of consuming this vegetable.

Protects Against Disease

Purslane contains compounds that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help prevent or delay cell damage in the body. Thus, health experts advise that consuming foods that contain these substances helps to fight against disease.

Purslane is also known to provide higher amounts of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and beta-carotene than spinach leaves, while supplying a variety of other beneficial compounds, such as glutathione, melatonin, and other flavonoids.

Aids in Diabetes Management

In a small clinical trial, subjects consuming purslane seeds showed a decrease in weight, body mass index, and other metrics. Researchers concluded that people with type 2 diabetes might improve their anthropometric measures, serum triglyceride levels, and blood pressure by consuming the seeds.

In another trial, researchers suggested that purslane seeds may be helpful in type 2 diabetes management due to their polyunsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids, and polysaccharides. The American Diabetes Association encourages plant-based omega-3 fatty acid food sources, like purslane.

Assists With Hydration

In a 43-gram serving of purslane, there are 40 grams are water. If you struggle to meet your recommended intake of water daily, this green can help you reach your goal. Staying hydrated helps lubricate your joints, keeps your body temp normal, and aids in getting rid of bodily waste.

Supports Eye Health

Out of all of the leafy greens you can eat, purslane is the one that contains the most vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical for healthy vision and may help reduce the development of age-related macular degeneration by as much as 25%.

May Promote Liver Health

People with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often have poor metabolic profiles and oxidative stress levels; yet, one trial found that consuming 10 grams of purslane seeds daily for eight weeks improved measures of both when compared to a control.

It should be noted that not all research has found such favorable effects. One example is a study involving the consumption of 300 mg of purslane extract daily, which was noted to have no major effects on the participant's liver enzymes, lipid profiles, or glycemic indices.

More research is needed to know whether purslane helps promote liver health, or if certain forms may be more effective than others (such as seeds being more effective than an extract).

May Reduce Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Some women have heavy menstrual bleeding. One double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that consuming purslane seeds at specific times during the menstrual cycle reduced both the volume of blood loss and the number of bleeding days.

Allergies

Purslane is not a known food allergen. However, if you suspect that you may have a purslane allergy, make an appointment with your doctor or an allergist to discuss your concerns and responses to this food.

Adverse Effects

Purslane contains oxalic acid. Also called oxalate, this is a naturally-occurring substance found in many foods, such as beets, berries, nuts, coffee, oranges, and spinach. The body also produces oxalate as a waste product.

For most people, high oxalate content is not a cause for concern. But those with a history of oxalate urinary tract stones may want to avoid purslane, especially in large quantities. Purslane's safety for women who are pregnant or lactating has also not yet been established.

Varieties

Purslane can vary in terms of leaf size and number, plant size, flower color, and nutritional composition. Eight groups of purslane have been identified to date: P. oleracea (common purslane), P. sativa, Golden Gerber, Garden, Golden, and wild accessions.

Common purslane is known for having a sweet, yet acidy taste like watercress or spinach. However, the sativa variety of purslane (which is tall with larger leaves) is said to have a more appealing flavor.

When It's Best

Although purslane is very easy to grow, it is not commonly available in retail grocery stores. That said, it can often be found in farmer's markets in the spring and early fall. You can also grow your own as purslane seeds are typically available for purchase at garden centers or online. 

One purslane plant can produce 240,000 seeds. So, if you do decide to grow your own, you'll want to pay attention to it to keep it from getting out of control.

It also doesn't hurt to look in your yard for purslane since many people may not recognize it as an edible plant. If you do find a plant that resembles this green, just make sure you are 100% certain that it is purslane before consuming it, for safety reasons.

When choosing purslane to eat, select younger leaves closer to the tip of the plant. They should be soft and pliant, yet crunchy and have a slight shine.

Storage and Food Safety

Fresh purslane is best kept refrigerated and should last about 3 to 4 days before it starts to wilt. To keep it fresh, wrap the unwashed greens in a paper towel or a plastic bag and store them in the crisper section of the refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

Purslane doesn't freeze well because the texture changes. But some cooks steam it slightly, then pack it in bags to freeze for later use in soups. Others pickle purslane to preserve the plant's flavor for extended periods.

How to Prepare

Purslane has a mild citrus flavor with a refreshingly crisp, yet juicy texture that complements many other ingredients and preparations. To eat it raw, trim off any extra thick or woody stems while keeping the tender ones. You may also see little tiny black seeds by the leaves, which are perfectly edible.

For a simple salad, lightly dress the purslane with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, plus some raw garlic if you want an extra bite. You can also turn it into pesto. Simply substitute purslane for basil and, for even more omega-3s, use walnuts in place of pine nuts.

To prepare purslane cooked, steam or sauté the greens and serve as a side dish or incorporate into a dish as you would wilted spinach or arugula. To get the most out of purslane’s nutritional content, it is best to mix it up and eat it both raw and cooked.

The vitamin C content will be best preserved when purslane is eaten in its raw form. Conversely, the fat-soluble vitamin A it contains would be best absorbed when prepared cooked with a little bit of fat, such as olive oil.

Recipes

Healthy Purslane Recipes to Try

Try any of these salad recipes and add purslane with—or instead of—spinach.

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23 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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