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This Familiar ‘Weed’ is Actually a Powerful Health Food

Food and Eating August 31, 2016

Do you recognize it? It’s one of the healthiest weeds you might be throwing away …

Pulling up your weeds and tossing them in the compost this week? Well, you might want to keep an eye out for this one.

It’s Purslane, also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, red root, pursley, an annual succulent in the family, and it’s an ingredient in cuisine around the world.

What does it look like? Like the photos, and it may reach 40 centimetres (16 in) in height. It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 millimetres (0.24 in) wide.

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. The sour taste is due to oxalic and malic acid, the latter of which is produced through the crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) pathway that is seen in many xerophytes (plants living in dry conditions), and is maximal when the plant is harvested in the early morning.

It has also been used in traditional medicine: In traditional Chinese medicine. Its leaves are used for insect or snake bites on the skin, boils, sores, pain from bee stings, bacillary dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, postpartum bleeding, and intestinal bleeding. And its use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion. Purslane is a clinically effective treatment for oral lichen planus, it has been reported.

It’s a rich source of Omega 3’s as well. And it has antioxidants, which help against heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, memory loss, and age-related vision loss, while benefiting immune systems.

It also has lots of vitamin A.

But remember, the nutritional benefits of Purslane start to wane right after its picked. So you need to consume it shortly after.

Purslane 2


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