Why Does the FDA Call This Omega-3-Rich Green a Weed?

Purslane belongs in your diet! This abundant “weed” is a deliciously sour green that makes a wonderful addition to salads, stir fries, vegetable dishes, soups, and salsas. It pairs nicely with citrus and melon. It’s a tasty complement to pork, fish, and protein-rich beans such as lentils.

Purslane is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids of any green, leafy vegetable. Interestingly, purslane contains the EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) form of Omega-3, which is rare for a plant source of fatty acids. Purslane is also naturally high in magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and iron. Pretty incredible, isn’t it!

Though commonly used in many dishes in many countries the world over, purslane has yet to catch on in the States. Also called pigweed or hogweed, this succulent leaf stands up in stews and soups, yet also goes well with fresh cheeses like mozzarella or cottage cheese due to its salty, sour, zesty flavor.

Purslane is rich in the anti-mutagenic antioxidants betaxanthins and betacyanins. It helps to reduce inflammation, constipation, and is beneficial to the urinary system. And purslane is a must for joint health!

Increasingly, purslane can be found at farmers’ markets and specialty grocers. But it’s even popping up in regular grocery stores these days, too. Ask for it!

Further reading:

Vegetables that reduce inflammation and joint pain!

More interesting vegetables you may not have tried!

Ten delicious, indulgent, flavorful carbs that you can eat every day!

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28 thoughts on “Why Does the FDA Call This Omega-3-Rich Green a Weed?”

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  1. I’ve never tried this, you got me interested, for sure. I just put it on my list, good stuff! I’ll be hunting it down!

  2. Purslane is really distinctive and really good. If you like rocket (arugula) and things like capers, you will love it. It is SO good for you, too. It’s a super green!

  3. It’s frustrating to read about interesting veggies here and then having absolutely no luck finding them locally.

    1. I just started a garden in my backyard and it is coming up everywhere..I might juice it. You can order seeds online

    2. I’m in southern California it grows everywhere! You probably pull it and throw it away all the time. If you water the ground it will come up. I have it everywhere

  4. “Extending the Table: The World Community Cookbook” has several recipes that call for purslane. There are many other countries, especially in the third world, that do not disdain it.

  5. I’ve known this weed since I was about 8 years old (I’m now 52). I think it was my father who told me that it was edible, but I never did more than sample a leaf now and then, enjoying its sour taste. Now, as soon as I get home from work, I’m going to take my two little boys out in the back yard, find some, put it in a pot, and bring it inside for the Winter! Thanks, Mark!

  6. Warren, interesting. I haven’t had it much, but I’m all for the Omega 3’s in any form we can get. Around here the kids munch on something they call sour grass; it’s too sour for my old taste buds.

  7. Well, we did get out there and find a plant, but it was difficult. My theory is that it’s quite sensitive to frost (we’ve had a couple of light ones so far) and that most of the plants have dropped their leaves and gone dormant, making it almost impossible to find among the still-green grass.

    Just as we were about to give up, my wife found a large plant that was mostly stems, with only a few tiny leaves. It’s sitting in a pot on the windowsill in the kitchen now. As weedy as it is, I don’t doubt that it will make a speedy recovery.

  8. Poking back through the Smart Fuel section I found this and I’m intrigued. I’ve been pulling this stuff out of my garden and tossing it out with the other weeds all summer, trying to keep it from choking out all the other vegetables. Never once considered it might be edible. I’m going to pull up a big bunch of it when I get home and see if I can come up with some new recipes.

  9. You can order purslane seeds at http://www.seedsofchange.com and grow it in your garden.
    To consume purslane, you can make a green smoothie by blending it with fruits.
    I made one the other day and my son,15, told me he felt incredibly sharp at school that day.
    Do anyone of you know any other greens rich in omega 3?

  10. This year my garden is loaded with the purslane “weed”. I am having the county agent to positively ID it for me and if he gives me the go ahead it will come off the “weed” list and on the garden veggie list. So far it is growing better than anything else in there.
    2 questions: 1. If it is so good for you why is it not consumed more in the US (you dont hear about it on Dr OZ.)
    2. Is there a market for it? Cost?
    Thanks’ Tea

    1. I can’t believe I’m reading this. We bought bags of something we tilled into our garden to help keep the soil loose and I now have a garden of weeds. Here it is purslane I believe.

  11. @Tea, I’m speculating here, but to q1: there are many, many healthy & delicious greens that people eat around the world, but not in the states. To generalize, we’re not particularly adventurous, and many Americans are not very close to the land. How many people do you know who actually eat what’s in season? That doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
    q2: even in Philly, where there are many adventurous locavores, I haven’t seen it for sale. It’s tough to market – folks like to buy what they already know. And since it grows on roadsides, field edges, and sidewalks in most places I’ve been… I pick my own!

  12. Purslane used to be eaten a lot in my home country, Greece, up to 20-25 years ago. It was eaten from ancient times and it was known for how good it was for the health.

    Unfortunately, these days extremely few Greek people eat this food, mostly older people, and in villages only. In fact, the Greek word for the plant, ?????????, is now used to make fun of people who talk too much! So the plant now is used more as a joke in common language, rather than a food!

    Just this summer while visiting Greece, I saw both her and my aunt next door removing purslane from their vegetable gardens and treating it as a weed. At least my aunt actually gave it to her chickens, my mom threw it away in the garbage.

    If only I knew what I know now…

  13. How much EPA does this really have? I’m guessing probably not enough for vegetarians and vegans to get adequate EPA levels in their blood.

    1. Bad news for vegetarians and vegans. Purslane only has 0.01mg/g of EPA which is too little to replace meats. It has a lot, but only when compared to other plant sources that have zero.

      Most of the omega-3 in purslane the ALA (useless) one.

  14. Purslane has been used in Chinese medicine apparently to treat conditions like infections, genito-urinary bleeding, and constipation.

    In Chinese, it’s called “???” or “horse tooth amaranth”.

  15. This stuff comes up in my yard anywhere it possibly can. The cracks in the sidewalks, everywhere! It is my understanding that a lot of what we think of as weeds were originally brought here by people as they immigrated, bringing useful plants from their homelands, unsure of what might be here when they arrived. Good to know it has a purpose. I may just have to try it.

  16. My mother (from Mexico) told me when I was little that people ate this where she was from. We cooked some and ate it but she only did this a couple times. Apparently we had so many other choices in America. I’ve since noticed more articles online regarding the health benefits of this weed. Noticing that it seems to do better in my garden than some of the vegetables I’m going to make better use of Purslane this summer. Thanks for the information on its nutritional benefits.

  17. I grew up in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. This “weed” would grow in the cracks of my grandmother’s sidewalk. Every so often my grandmother would have me pick bunches of it and she’d boil “verdolagas” for me or what I would call “verde nalgas” which if you speak Español is quite funny coming from a five year old. They’re delicious with pimenton.

  18. Is this winter purslane (Montia perfoliata) or summer purslane (Portulaca oleracea? The former I could probably grow in my garden, the latter possibly not.

  19. Purslane is indeed a great vegetable. I pickle the stems, and the seeds can be used like poppy seeds. The entire plant above ground is edible raw or cooked. Originally from India it grows in wild nearly all over the world. I have no idea why it is ignored as a food in the states. In most countries it’s sold in most produce markets. The other point worth making is that edible wild plants tend to pack a greater nutritional punch than their cultivated counterparts. They are in constant competition with their pests (insects, fungus… even lack of water and fertilizer.) They may do on their own and fight back with many of the things we think know are good for us like antioxidants, phytochemical, et cetera. By the way Mark, I grew up in Pownal Maine, near L.L. Bean…

  20. I would just like to mention that there is a plant that often grows near purslane and it looks a bit like it. I have had many people tell me they had purslane growing but they had mistaken it for a poisonous plant called Spotted Spurge. So if you are going to forage for it in your backyard or elsewhere, please make sure there is no milky sap when you break the stem. Purslane doesn’t have that but Spurge does.

  21. Your article never answered the question proposed by the title. What research do you have that gives the answer as to why the FDA calls this “miracle plant” a weed? I’m not eating it until I know.