Many of us have been destroying this common weed that can benefit our health. Each year countless time and frustrations are spent on weeding our gardens with seemingly little effect. I know for me, at times, the weeds seem to overrun the vegetables I’m trying to grow. Therefore, I would like to suggest another alternative. Let's eat them instead!
I first learned about the bounty of weeds and their benefits from a book by Rachel Weaver called Backyard Pharmacy. Most of the weeds in her book grow in my area, if not, in my yard and woods. There are many weeds that we can eat that have substantial health benefits. One of those is Purslane. Purslane is a succulent that is found all over the world. This hardy plant requires less water and soil nutrient and grows well in sunny climates. This low-growing plant is a staple in many areas of the world. The more this weed is tilled and pulled, the more it will grow. Remember succulents grow from just a small piece of the plant that lands on the ground. If your tiller is chopping it into hundreds of pieces, you will get a hundred new plants! So why fight it? Just eat it.
The soft, succulent leaves of the purslane plant contain more omega-3 fatty acids than in some fish oils. If you are a vegetarian or don’t like the taste of fish, then here is a great alternative. This essential fat has been shown to improve brain function and help with anxiety and depression. Rather than supplementing with pills, pull off some purslane and add it to your smoothie, salad, or entree. The taste is not what you would expect; rather, it is quite pleasant. Both the leaf and the stem can be eaten. It’s a nice substitute for spinach and is likely growing in your yard.
When picking purslane, it’s important to know the source. Do not eat if it has been sprayed or if a dog visits the spot. Wash it well, then chop it and add to your favorite foods. I’ve added it to quiche, smoothies, and veggie patties. This morning I enjoyed it in an omelet with onions and mushrooms.
Here are some health benefits of Purslane
- Very low in calories and fats; but rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Fresh leaves contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. Research shows that the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and can help prevent the development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences in children.
- An excellent source of vitamin-C and some B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and carotenoids, as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium potassium and manganese.
I invite you to experiment with Purslane in the near future. Start by adding it to your salads or smoothies. Pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you. What differences do you feel after consuming Purslane?
Health-bite: Try the health benefits of Purslane