Rather than pluck weeds from the lawn or the cracks of sidewalks, many people are instead eating them and enjoying a range of health benefits as a result. Purslane is one such weed that is now gaining in popularity, namely, that it represents edible landscaping at its best: It is free, there is no work involved in growing it, and it boasts a variety of culinary uses.
It is scientifically known as an annual succulent and is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, it has been in use since prehistoric times. In the United States, it is usually ignored or pulled up and treated like any other invasive greenery in gardens and yards. Purslane is being used in several parts of the world in the treatment of burns and trauma; headaches; stomach, intestinal and liver ailments; cough; shortness of breath and arthritis.
Purslane herb has been turning some heads at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, it is receiving much attention for cultivation, as part of their effort to bring about a modification in the western diet with increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Purslane just happens to contain ALA, one of the highly sought-after Omega-3 fatty acids. Which is typically found most in plants and grass-fed meat and eggs. Scientific research of today confirms that this herb is healthy for the lungs. More important is the fact that Persian doctors prescribed purslane against cancer. This is of great scientific importance. There is a strong connection between omega 3 deficiency and cancer. Additionally, researchers at the University of Texas have found that purslane has up to 20 times more of the possibly cancer-growth-inhibiting antioxidant melatonin than many other common fruits and vegetables.
Purslane also protects the liver. This tasty herb contains the building blocks of glutathion, our strongest bodily antioxidant. Most glutahion is found in the liver. Purslane contains a number of important nutrients. It has 7x the vitamin E compared to spinach and 7x more beta carotene than carrots, not to mention magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and Vitamin C.
Purslane prevents cardiovascular diseases, Improves Circulation, Boosts Vision and Increases Bone Strength. A tea or poultice of purslane is a traditional skin medicine against burns, earache, insect stings, inflammations, skin sores, ulcers, itching skin, eczema and abscesses.
Be careful when foraging for purslane as, it does have one dangerous look-a-like: the potentially deadly spurges. One important differentiator is that if you break the stem of purslane, there is NO sticky white liquid. It may be a little sticky, but it will be clear, not white. Spurge plants have a white sticky liquid.
It has a slightly sour and salty taste that makes it an interesting addition to the palate. The entire plant, including the leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds, are edible and have been used for thousands of years in different variations. You can use it raw in salads, mixed with other ingredients. Eat it raw, on its own, as a snack. If you should decide to boil it, it is tender enough after one minute. When you boil it for a short period, most of its nutrients will still stay active.
The only potential downside that researchers have found about purslane is the relatively high content of oxalic acid. If you suffer from kidney stones, avoiding purslane might be a good idea.
However, boiling purslane down in water causes a great deal of oxalic acid to be eliminated, without losing many of the other beneficial nutrients.
If you see this herb growing on their lawn or in their garden, you should not really throw it out. Why not try eating it.
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Purslane: A Power Food of the Future – Health Benefits of This Common Edible Garden Weed