Purslane Benefits And Side Effects: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Varsha Patnaik

“What is purslane”? Purslane benefits your health in many ways as it is a weed that is packed with nutrients. If you are a bit adventurous and need something to tweak your diet, purslane is the right choice! It is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten with anything. Be it in your favorite salad or in your favorite sandwich, it can be a good replacement for the regular old lettuce. A change in flavor will encourage you to get more experimental with your food and purslane will definitely help you with that. Lettuce get out of the way! Purslane is your new best friend.

Now, let us delve deeper into what purslane is, what its benefits are and how it can be incorporated into our daily diet.

What Is Purslane?

Purslane plant is a weed that grows naturally in gardens and fields (1). It is scientifically known as Portulaca Oleracea and belongs to the family Portulacaceae. It is also known as pigweed or little hogweed. Although the purslane plant is distributed all over the world, it is native to the Middle East and North Africa. It is a versatile plant that can grow anywhere. Be it tropical or temperate regions, purslane can grow at any temperature around the world. How would you recognize purslane? It is pretty easy. Purslane has a red stem with small green leaves, giving it a nice and rounded look. Due to its large water-storing capacity, purslane can thrive even in the hottest temperature. It is a plant that has been used for thousands of years due to its nutritional value and medicinal properties.

Now that we know what purslane is and where it originated from, let us see the different nutrients that it provides.

Purslane Nutrition Facts

Purslane Nutrition Facts

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Just like its leafy companions— spinach and lettuce, purslane benefits us in many ways. It is power-packed with nutrients that are essential for our body. Some of these nutrients are:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Did you think that fish was the only source of omega-3 fatty acids? No! Purslane is a very rich source of Alpha Linoleic Acid (2). It is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for bone and growth development in humans. A study was conducted to compare the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in purslane and wild spinach. The results showed that purslane has a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids than spinach. This proves the high nutritional value of purslane (3).
  • Antioxidants – Antioxidants are substances that are beneficial in reducing cell damage caused by free radicals. Green leafy vegetables such as our pal, the purslane plant, are filled with antioxidants. A study was conducted to see the effect of purslane juice in rats and the researchers checked the levels of nitric oxide and lipid peroxidation levels in the for the same. The results showed a significant improvement in the inhibition of the levels of nitric oxide and lipid peroxidation which proves that purslane is high in antioxidants (4).
  • Vitamin A – Purslane, also known as verdolagas, benefits us by providing vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for good eyesight, skin, and healthy mucus membranes in our body (1).
  • Vitamins B And C – Along with being a good source of vitamin A, purslane is also a vegetable high in vitamins B and C. Vitamin C is essential for healthy skin and healing wounds (6). Vitamin B is essential for building a healthy nervous system (7).

You can see that purslane is a powerful plant that comes packed with a multitude of vitamins. Let us look into the benefits that purslane provides.

Health Benefits of Purslane

Health Benefits of Purslane

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There are several health benefits of eating purslane that are essential for a healthy body. They are:

  • Lowers Risk Of Developing Heart Diseases – The lifestyle that we lead today has forced many of us to develop cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Researchers conducted a study to understand the effect of freeze-dried purslane supplements in adults with cholesterol. Blood tests taken at the end of every two weeks showed that the total cholesterol levels had decreased. It shows that purslane is beneficial for reducing the risk of developing heart diseases (8).
  • Gives You Great Skin – Do you want beautiful and glowing skin? Purslane has a high content of antioxidants which makes it extremely beneficial for the skin. Antioxidants are important for the production of collagen and collagen helps in reducing wrinkles and maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Thus proving that purslane benefits you in more than one way (9).
  • Helps You Shed The Extra Pounds – Yes, you read that right. Our leafy friend, purslane, helps you shed those extra pounds. Research shows that including purslane in your diet every day can help decrease your weight (10). Along with that, it reduces the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Reduces The Level Of Blood Pressure – Looking for food that can help you reduce your blood pressure? Experts conducted a study on people with type-2 diabetes. They were given purslane seeds with yogurt for five weeks. The results showed that there was a significant reduction in the blood pressure level (11). Along with this, there was a decrease in the level of body weight and fat levels. This proves that purslane is a powerful plant that has many benefits.
  • Reduces Inflammation – Eating purslane seeds every day has been shown to reduce cytokines. These are substances that control inflammation in our bodies (12).
  • Helps In Managing Oral Lichen Planus – Oral lichen planus is a condition that affects the mucous lining in your mouth. Your mouth develops symptoms such as swelling, white patches, and redness. Researchers conducted a study where patients diagnosed with oral lichen planus were given purslane for three months. The test results showed that it was effective in reducing severity of the symptoms of oral lichen planus (13).

While purslane provides a variety of medical benefits and is a good alternative to spinach and lettuce, it also comes with its own set of side effects. Let us read further to find out what they are.

Purslane – Side Effects

Just like every other food, over consumption of anything is bad for your health. Surprisingly, current research shows that the only side effect of eating purslane is that it can lead to the risk of developing kidney stones. Purslane contains oxalate that can lead to the development of kidney stones. Purslane or any vegetable high in oxalate reduces the absorption power of calcium which can lead to calcium deficiency in your body (14). Women are at higher risk of developing calcium deficiency due to the high oxalate content in their bodies (15).

As seen in this section, purslane comes with very few side effects that are harmful to you. Why don’t we go ahead and see whether you can consume purslane or not?

Who Should Not Eat Purslane?

Who Should Not Eat Purslane?

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How do you know if you can eat purslane? Studies have shown that people who have high levels of oxalate should not consume purslane. Purslane and other leafy vegetables have high levels of oxalates (15). It can contribute to the formation of stones in your urinary tract and kidneys. People who are prone to developing kidney or urinary tract stones should avoid eating purslane. But if you love purslane and want it, then you can combine it with yogurt. Studies show that combining purslane with yogurt or coconut products reduces the level of oxalates in your body (16).

If you are one of those people who have urinary tract stones and kidney stones, then you are advised to not consume purslane. But if you still want to try, eat it with coconut or yogurt. Let us see if purslane is a vegetable that we can eat raw or not.

Can You Eat Purslane Raw?

Purslane is a versatile, leafy vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Purslane has a salty and slightly sour taste that can add that extra kick to your salad. Crunchy purslane can be eaten with your sandwiches. It can be incorporated into your soups as well on a winter night.

Now that you know that purslane is the perfect alternative to lettuce and can be eaten raw with any of your favourite dishes, let us answer the question on your mind— “ How much purslane can I eat every day?”

How Much Purslane Should I Eat Every Day?

There is no set amount of purslane that can be consumed daily. One study showed that giving three pills of purslane extract every day decreased systolic blood pressure (17). Another study was conducted on overweight adolescents to see the effect of purslane on cholesterol levels. The adolescents were administered 500 milligrams of purslane seeds every day twice a day for one month. The results showed that there was a considerable reduction in cholesterol levels. Given the findings in research, it can be concluded that you can consume purslane in a limited amount every day (18).

Summary

A weed that is underappreciated by many but still recognized as an important source of nutrition by experts today, purslane benefits you in many ways. It helps in reducing the risk of developing heart diseases, giving you strong bones, and helps you shed those extra pounds. Purslane is your new leafy friend. Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, you can add purslane to your food every day. If you are looking to switch it up and give your regular lettuce a break, then add purslane to your diet. With a slightly sour and salty taste, purslane can add a nice kick to your salad or sandwiches and make your day!

Sources

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  1. Purslane Weed (Portulaca oleracea): “A Prospective Plant Source of Nutrition” “Omega-3 Fatty Acid” and Antioxidant Attributes
    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/951019/
  2. Purslane weed (Portulaca oleracea): “A Prospective Plant Source of Nutrition” “Omega-3 Fatty Acid” and Antioxidant Attributes
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934766/
  3. Common purslane: a source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1354675/
  4. Antioxidant effect of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and its mechanism of action
    https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380550022_Dkhil%20et%20al.pdf
  5. Purslane – The Gourmet Weed
    https://newdrugapprovals.org/2013/12/10/purslane-the-gourmet-weed/
  6. Vitamin C
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/
  7. B Vitamins And Folic Acid
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/
  8. Evaluating The Effects Of Freeze-Dried Supplements Of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) On Blood Lipids In Hypercholesterolemic Adults
    https://academicjournals.org/journal/IJNAM/article-abstract/9250CC14803
  9. Purslane In Cosmetics: A Review
    https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v7i11/ART20193014.pdf
  10. Influence Of Sage (Salvia Officinalis L.) And Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea L.) On Weight Reduction And Some Biochemical Parameters In Rats Suffering From Obesity
    https://ejnh.journals.ekb.eg/article_4807_18767eaa9d77894c5a03171e9514ebff.pdf
  11. The effect of purslane seeds on glycemic status and lipid profiles of persons with type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled cross-over clinical trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354065/
  12. Effect of purslane seed supplementation on inflammatory cytokines oxidative stress and muscle damage in response to high-intensity intermittent exercise in national athlete runners
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11332-019-00572-y
  13. Efficacy of purslane in the treatment of oral lichen planus
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19585472/
  14. Oxalate content of raw and cooked purslane
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268439013_Oxalate_content_of_raw_and_cooked_purslane
  15. Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24393738/
  16. Oxalate content of purslane leaves and the effect of combining them with yogurt or coconut products
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157509000842
  17. Purslane Extract and Glucose Homeostasis in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: “A Double-Blind” Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of Efficacy and Safety
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26854844/
  18. Clinical Effects of Portulaca Oleracea Seeds on Dyslipidemia in Obese Adolescents: a Triple-blinded Randomized Controlled Trial
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262718128_Clinical_Effects_of_Portulaca_Oleracea_Seeds_on_Dyslipidemia_in_Obese_Adolescents_a_Triple-blinded_Randomized_Controlled_Trial
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