Table of Contents Show
- Omega Fatty Acids in Common Purslane, Fresh
- Vitamins in Common Purslane
- General Nutritional Information for Common Purslane
- Mineral and Electrolyte Content of Fresh Purslane
- Purslane Omega 3
- Omega Fatty Acids in Purslane vs Other Sources
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Present in Purslane?
- Germinating Purslane Seeds At Home
- Do Animals Like Purslane?
- Ways to Eat Purslane
Another, more ornamental Portulaca cousin of purslane is Portulaca grandiflora, or the moss rose. Many people consider purslane a weed, and the Internet has many sites dedicated to its extermination.
Omega Fatty Acids in Common Purslane, Fresh
|Omega Fatty Acid||Amount per 100g serving|
|Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)||300-400 mg|
|Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)||1 mg|
Vitamins in Common Purslane
|Vitamin||Amount||Percentage of RDA|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.047 mg||4%|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.112 mg||8.5%|
|Niacin (B3)||0.480 mg||3%|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.036 mg||1%|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||0.073 mg||5.5%|
|Folate (B9)||12 micrograms||3%|
|Vitamin A||1320 IU||44%|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||35%|
|Alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E)||12.2 mg|
General Nutritional Information for Common Purslane
|per 100 g serving|
|Total fat||0.1 g|
Mineral and Electrolyte Content of Fresh Purslane
|Micronutrient||Amount per 100 g serving||Percentage of RDA|
Purslane Omega 3
Purslane has the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any leafy green. The purslane omega 3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is one of the fatty acids essential for human nutrition.
I first saw purslane mentioned in the book: The Modern Nutritional Diseases and How to Prevent Them, by Alice and Fred Ottoboni.
This book, written by two health scientists concerned about their own health, offers lots of well-referenced information about our modern diet, and how the excessive consumption of carbohydrates may be leading to the epidemic of degenerative diseases we are experiencing as a population, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
It goes into some detail on the metabolism of all the major nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and proteins), and makes recommendations for healthier living. Eating purslane is one of those recommendations.
Omega Fatty Acids in Purslane vs Other Sources
Purslane is not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but also in vitamin C and vitamin E. In fact, these three nutrients compare favorably to spinach.
Maybe Popeye should take note! The same Simopoulos I talked about earlier mentions in an abstract published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that 100 grams of purslane contain 300-400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3 fatty acids.
The essential fatty acids found in higher plants are not the same ones as in fish oils, other animals, and our own cell membranes.
The alpha-linolenic acid found in purslane, spinach, flax, and other plants only has 18 carbon atoms, while the omega-3s found in fish oil have 20 (EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid) or 22 (DHA: docosahexenoic acid) carbons. In our bodies, one is converted to the other by the enzymatic addition of two carbon atoms at a time.
This conversion process is not very efficient, so one needs to consume a lot of alpha-linolenic acids to reach the acceptable intake (A.I.) of EPA and DHA (Wikipedia). The Ottoboni book has a nice little table comparing the fatty acid content of fish oil and flax oil in chapter 7.
According to Wikipedia, purslane also has 0.01 mg per gram of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is not present at all in flax oil. This would make 1 mg of EPA for a 100 g portion of purslane, 10 mg for a kilogram (2.2 pounds), and 1 gram for 100 kilograms (220 pounds). Very little compared to what you can get from fish oil (1 gram of fish oil has 120 mg of EPA).
At these concentrations, purslane is unfortunately not a practical source of EPA. It would be interesting to investigate if it is possible to improve these yields by changes in the plant’s environment and selective breeding.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Present in Purslane?
Germinating Purslane Seeds At Home
Although I was tempted to eat the purslane I found growing so nearby, a lot of people walk their dogs in that area, so I decided to look for it in stores.
I had no luck at my local supermarkets but was able to find seeds for Golden Purslane (Portulaca oleraceae Sativa) online. I don’t know if the nutritional profile is the same for these two varieties, but the picture on Amazon.com looked very close to what I had seen outside.
The seeds are very small, and smaller than poppy seeds. I added some to a planter on my windowsill and two days later I was rewarded with lots of little seedlings. They have not grown very vigorously, and that windowsill is probably not getting enough direct sunlight.
However, some of them have “taken”, and are getting bigger slowly. They form taproots, and I’ll give them the time to establish themselves before I harvest. You can see them here growing, and also compare the plants I found outside to the ones I planted.
The largest of the seedlings shown in the picture is about two months old. I bet if you give yours plenty of suns you will get much faster growth.
Do Animals Like Purslane?
For all its nutritiousness, purslane is apparently not favored by cows.
According to a Penn Dutch Cow Care newsletter called The Moo News, they consistently leave it behind when grazing. Chickens seem to like it well, and purslane has been found to increase the omega-3-fatty acid content of their eggs, and it is recommended as a way to improve the omega-3 profile of their meat as well.
If the omega-3 fatty acids in purslane get incorporated into chickens, who then turn it into EPA and/or DHA, you could benefit from their superior conversion capabilities.
Purslane is also known as pigweed, and it doesn’t have this name for nothing. Like chickens, pigs are more efficient than humans in converting ALA to EPA and DHA, so feeding them purslane will enrich their meat in these essential fatty acids.
Ways to Eat Purslane
If you’ve read this far, hopefully, you are ready to give purslane a try. Pictures in this post show some of the ways people have incorporated purslane into their diets, from adding it raw to a salad, to sauteeing it, to using it as a topping on crostinis.
For some recipes, please check the following link: Bon Appetit!