Thursday, April 30, 2009

Purslane - You can eat this weed too

Common in our yard but little known in the kitchen, purslane is both delicious and exceptionally nutritious.

Regarded by many as a weed, common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is also known as duckweed, fatweed, pursley, pussley and wild portulaca.

Purslane is somewhat crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. Some people liken it to watercress or spinach, and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and are good in salads and sandwiches. They can also be lightly steamed or stir-fried or simply make a wonderful fresh garden salad with it.

Purslane has high levels of soluble fiber help lower cholesterol, six times more vitamin E than spinach, is best known plant source of essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), seven times more beta carotene than carrots, rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorous.

In addition to ALA, other omega-3s include eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids mostly found in aquatic plants and animals, especially oily fish. Nutritionists now think all forms of omega-3s need to be plentiful in our diets plants such as purslane may be part of the missing link to better nutrition. Ethnobiologists — scientists who study the relation between primitive human societies and the plants in their environment — believe that the plants humans ate long ago provided a greater proportion of nutrients than the plants we consume today. They estimate, for instance, that humans 40,000 to 10,000 years ago consumed an average of 390 milligrams per day of vitamin C from wild plants and fruits. In contrast, the average human today consumes just 88 milligrams of vitamin C per day.

One cup of cooked purslane has 25 milligrams (20 percent of the recommended daily intake) of vitamin C

Records show that wise folks in the East Indies and in Persia were chowing down on this glorious weed 2,000 years ago. Folks in China and Mexico, in Europe and Africa were all getting into Purslane munching long before it was ever introduced to the good old U.S of A.

In England a number of varieties were raised just for nutritious eating. Purslane can be confused with another plant that is dangerous to eat, so before you go grabbing a handful to eat, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PLANT!


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