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A Disease-Fighting Weed

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A Disease-Fighting Weed

By Cary Neff, Experience Life

Purslane is said to have been one of Mahatma Gandhiâ’s favorite foods. But here in the United States it’s widely considered a weed. It’s time to put this nutritional plant on our plates instead of the compost pile.

Food Basics
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), also called miner’s lettuce, pigweed and hogweed, is a succulent ground cover that grows wild throughout North America. Its leaves and stems, which may be bland or tart, taste like a slightly peppery cucumber. The tear-shaped leaves can be ultra-thin and tender or broad and fibrous. Harvested in midsummer, purslane’s smooth, green or red stems are slender and delicate. At the end of the growing season, the thick stems are tough and stringy and should be discarded. This delicious vegetable can be gathered in many places, does well in most home gardens, and is becoming more available in farmers’ markets, ethnic markets and restaurants.

Nutritional Know-How
Purslane’s leaves are high in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid we usually get from fish or flaxseed. It also contains small amounts of EPA and DHA, longer-chain omega-3s rarely found in any food except fish and fish oil. Omega-3s nourish brain cells and may decrease the risk of depression, hyperactivity, migraines and Alzheimer’s disease (some promising studies have also shown that omega-3s might ameliorate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders). They also support the immune system, prevent inflammation and some types of cancer, lower cholesterol (LDL), and help the body regulate blood pressure and clotting. They’ve been found helpful in treating type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Purslane is also a source of calcium, potassium, iron, glutathione, essential amino acids, and vitamins E, C and A. Pregnant women should avoid purslane since it can cause the uterine muscles to contract.

Next: 6 ways to eat purslane, plus kitchen tips

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

160 comments

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10:11PM PDT on May 13, 2012

Hi, Care 2 please let me know, How to get the purslane seeds? If any Idea please send the mail to my ID veenaexact@gmail.com

12:26AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

I remember as a child eating the leaves of a particular wild plant. The flavor was distinctly tart, not in a bad way, not bitter at all. I wonder if this was the plant

10:51PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

I could use a lot of this....

4:15PM PDT on Sep 8, 2010

I need a yard to grow things. Thanks for the info.

11:15PM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

Thank you for the information.

12:41PM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

I find that best storage for this type of "weed" a.k.a. valuable plant is in Marie Meyers' "Green Bags." Rinse in colander, shake & drain 'dry' and place into bags, seal, put in fridge. These amazing bags keep produce and harvested plants fresh MUCH longer than regular/plastic bags. And, thank goodness, these Green Bags are easy to wash and reuse for ages; the only reason to buy new ones is if one accidentally tears or pokes a whole in a Green Bag. TRY THEM!! They are available at Whole Foods, health food coops, and even mainstream stores. (You can get your fave store to order them for you if need be; I did that until the store chose to stock them regularly as a popular item.) Another way to "go green" - and have handy, reusable storage for your harvested wild plants as well! :)

11:09AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

Thanks for the tips my dear.

9:32PM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Thanks.

12:30AM PDT on Aug 4, 2010

Thanks.

10:04AM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

Great info thanks!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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