Would you like to speak with a caring member of our team to answer your specific questions?

Nutritional Benefits of Purslane

Purslane has been studied by researchers and nutritionists for its very high nutritional value, containing fiber, protein, and other macronutrients and high levels of various nutrients, namely essential amino acids, organic acids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients important for human health1,2,4,5,8,9,10.

The table below shows the nutritive value per 100g of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea).

In terms of nutritive value, there are some nutrients worth highlighting:

Fatty acids

  • Rich in essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Purslane is the richest vegetable origin of essential omega-3 fatty acids especially α-linolenic acid (ALA).
  • Other fatty acids: docosapentaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, catechol, a-Linolenic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, elaidic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid and oxalic acid, p-Coumaric acid, ferulic acid.

Purslane is enriched with a whole profile of fatty acids, with 10× more total fatty acids than either spinach or kale, and more than many other green plants like mint, watercress, parsley, and broccoli.

Purslane includes omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 (3:1:0.5) fatty acids, all of which provide health benefits3. It also shows the highest abundance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, with a 1:3 ratio (ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in cultivated purslane is 1:3, while in wild purslane this ratio is 1:1). Low ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 contribute to reducing the risk of many chronic illnesses3.

Vitamins

  • Vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), folates, pantothenic acid and thiamin as well as hesperidin and tocopherols, such as α-tocopherol.

When compared with kale and spinach, purslane contains the highest amount of the antioxidants vitamin C and E8.

Minerals

  • Potassium, calcium, nitrogen, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, zinc, selenium, and copper.

Purslane contains higher levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron than spinach1 and significantly more magnesium and potassium than kale8.

Others

  • Glutathione (antioxidant)
  • β-carotene
  • Melatonin
  • Essential amino acids and proteins
  • Portulacerebroside A
  • Dietary fiber

Phytochemicals and Bioactive Compounds in Purslane and Health Effects

A total of 184 phytochemicals have been identified for purslane, a number much higher than that reported for kale and spinach, with a total of 118 compounds identified3,8, and among these compounds, 124 are unique to purslane8.

The compounds found in purslane include a wide range of secondary metabolites with potential beneficial health effects, including flavonoids, homoisoflavonoids, anthocyanins, alkaloids, betalains and terpenoids, lignans, phenolic acids, and catecholamines2.

Important phytochemicals reported for purslane2.

Alkaloids

Oleracein A, B, C, D, E, K, L

Scopoletin

Aurantiamide

Aurantiamide acetate

N-cis-Feruloyloctopamine

N-trans-Feruloyloctopamine

N-cis-Feruloyltyramine

(3R)-3,5-Bis(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-2,3-dihydro-2(1H)-pyridinone

N-trans-Feruloyltyramine

Indole-3-aldehyde

Catecholamines

Dopamine

Noradrenaline

Flavonoids

Kaempferol

Apigenin

Luteolin

Myricetin

Quercetin

Genistein

Genistin

2,2′-Dihydroxy-4′,6′-dimethoxychalcone

Isorhamnetin

Naringenin

Terpenoids

Portuloside A

Portulene

Lupeol

Friedelane

Taraxerol

Lupeol

Phenolic acids

Caffeic acid

p-coumaric acid

Ferulic acid

Gallic acid

Gentisic acid

Benzoic acid

Anisic acid

Vanillic acid

Anthocyanins

Delphinidin-3-glucoside

Cyanidin-3-glucoside

Pelargonidin-3-glucoside

Lignans

(+)-Syringaresinol

(+)-Lirioresinol A

Fatty acids

Α-linolenic acid

Linoleic acid

 

Again it is worth highlighting some of the most important bioactive compounds found in purslane and their purported beneficial health effects1,2,5:

Flavonoids (a class of phenolic compounds)

  • antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fertility, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic effects

Homoisoflavonoids

  • anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic

Anthocyanins

  • antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. antitumor

Alkaloids

  • anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, antidiabetic

Betalains

  • antioxidant

Terpenoids

  • antioxidant, hepatoprotective, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-hypoxia effects

Lignans

  • antioxidant

Phenolic acids

  • antioxidant, anticancer

Catecholamines

  • neuroprotective

Polyunsaturated fatty acids and polysaccharides

  • immunomodulator, hypoglycaemic, hypolipidaemic and insulin resistance reducer effects.

 

Purslane has thus, many medicinal and pharmacological properties1,2,5,6,7,11,12,13,14,15, such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant properties (due to its phenolic compound and omega-3 fatty acid abundance, particularly α-linolenic acid, vitamin A, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene)
  • Radical scavenger
  • Immuno-modulatory
  • Anti-tumor and anti-cancer
  • Antimicrobial and antibacterial
  • Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic
  • Gastroprotective and neuroprotective
  • Renoprotective and hepatoprotective effects
  • Anti-diabetic (regulate the lipid and sugar metabolism)
  • Analgesic, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic
  • Anti-insomnia
  • Skeletal muscle-relaxant
  • Wound-healing
  • Diuretic
  • Febrifuge and vermifuge

There are also reports of purslane being used in the treatment of several illnesses, such as gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, liver inflammation, kidney and bladder ulcers, fevers, insomnia, headaches, and for sugar and lipid regulation5.

Conclusions

One of the facts that makes purslane so unique is that phytochemical studies have shown that this plant is one of the richest terrestrial sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and has a high content of antioxidants – vitamins A and C, alpha-tocopherol, β-carotene, and glutathione, endowing it with an enormous nutraceutical potential2,9. More surprising is the “very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, especially α-linolenic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which are not generally synthesized in terrestrial plants2.”

However, although purslane has been referred to as a “wonder crop2,” it is still nowadays one of the most underutilized crops worldwide2. There are records of its use for many centuries and in different countries as food and medicine, however, it has never seemed to catch the general public attention.

But it should.

Besides the enormous nutraceutical value of this plant, in terms of sustainable food production, purslane also possesses very relevant traits, which make it “an important crop for the future2.” Purslane is highly tolerant to salinity and due to global water scarcity, water-efficient crops will certainly play an important role in food production. Therefore, purslane can be “promoted as a biosaline crop for future food and nutritional security2.” It also constitutes an alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids, not just for vegans and vegetarians, but for everyone, contributing to reducing the pressure on delicate fish ecosystems and naturally increasing the consumption of these essential and healthful fatty acids.

References

  1. de Souza PG, Rosenthal A, Ayres EMM, Teodoro AJ. Potential Functional Food Products and Molecular Mechanisms of Portulaca Oleracea L. on Anticancer Activity: A Review. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2022 Sep 20;2022:7235412. doi: 10.1155/2022/7235412. PMID: 36193066; PMCID: PMC9526644.
  2. Kumar A, Sreedharan S, Kashyap AK, Singh P, Ramchiary N. A review on bioactive phytochemicals and ethnopharmacological potential of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.). Heliyon. 2021 Dec 27;8(1):e08669. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e08669. PMID: 35028454; PMCID: PMC8741462.
  3. Nemzer B, Al-Taher F, Abshiru N. Phytochemical composition and nutritional value of different plant parts in two cultivated and wild purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) genotypes. Food Chem. 2020 Aug 1;320:126621. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126621. Epub 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32203838.
  4. Amirul Alam M, Juraimi AS, Rafii MY, Hamid AA, Kamal Uddin M, Alam MZ, Latif MA. Genetic improvement of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) and its future prospects. Mol Biol Rep. 2014 Nov;41(11):7395-411. doi: 10.1007/s11033-014-3628-1. Epub 2014 Aug 2. PMID: 25085039.
  5. Rahimi VB, Ajam F, Rakhshandeh H, Askari VR. A Pharmacological Review on Portulaca oleracea L.: Focusing on Anti-Inflammatory, Anti- Oxidant, Immuno-Modulatory and Antitumor Activities. J Pharmacopuncture. 2019 Mar;22(1):7-15. doi: 10.3831/KPI.2019.22.001. Epub 2019 Mar 31. PMID: 30988996; PMCID: PMC6461301.
  6. Iranshahy M, Javadi B, Iranshahi M, Jahanbakhsh SP, Mahyari S, Hassani FV, Karimi G. A review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Portulaca oleracea L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jun 9;205:158-172. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.05.004. Epub 2017 May 8. PMID: 28495602.
  7. Chan K, Islam MW, Kamil M, Radhakrishnan R, Zakaria MN, Habibullah M, Attas A. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Portulaca oleracea L. subsp. Sativa (Haw.) Celak. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Dec;73(3):445-51. doi: 10.1016/s0378-8741(00)00318-4. PMID: 11090998.
  8. Nemzer B, Al-Taher F, Abshiru N. Extraction and Natural Bioactive Molecules Characterization in Spinach, Kale and Purslane: A Comparative Study. Molecules. 2021 Apr 26;26(9):2515. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092515. PMID: 33925848; PMCID: PMC8123472.
  9. Uddin MK, Juraimi AS, Hossain MS, Nahar MA, Ali ME, Rahman MM. Purslane weed (Portulaca oleracea): a prospective plant source of nutrition, omega-3 fatty acid, and antioxidant attributes. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 10;2014:951019. doi: 10.1155/2014/951019. PMID: 24683365; PMCID: PMC3934766.
  10. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Purslane, raw. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169230/nutrients, accessed Jul 17, 2023.
  11. Askari VR, Rezaee SA, Abnous K, Iranshahi M, Boskabady MH. The influence of hydro-ethanolic extract of Portulaca oleracea L. on Th1/Th2 balance in isolated human lymphocytes. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:1112-1121. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.10.082. Epub 2016 Nov 10. PMID: 27842944.
  12. Bai Y, Zang X, Ma J, Xu G. Anti-Diabetic Effect of Portulaca oleracea L. Polysaccharideandits Mechanism in Diabetic Rats. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jul 25;17(8):1201. doi: 10.3390/ijms17081201. PMID: 27463713; PMCID: PMC5000599.
  13. Gu JF, Zheng ZY, Yuan JR, Zhao BJ, Wang CF, Zhang L, Xu QY, Yin GW, Feng L, Jia XB. Comparison on hypoglycemic and antioxidant activities of the fresh and dried Portulaca oleracea L. in insulin-resistant HepG2 cells and streptozotocin-induced C57BL/6J diabetic mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Feb 23;161:214-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.12.002. Epub 2014 Dec 16. PMID: 25523372.
  14. Farshori NN, Al-Sheddi ES, Al-Oqail MM, Musarrat J, Al-Khedhairy AA, Siddiqui MA. Cytotoxicity assessments of Portulaca oleracea and Petroselinum sativum seed extracts on human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2). Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(16):6633-8. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2014.15.16.6633. PMID: 25169500.
  15. Lee AS, Kim JS, Lee YJ, Kang DG, Lee HS. Anti-TNF-α activity of Portulaca oleracea in vascular endothelial cells. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(5):5628-5644. doi: 10.3390/ijms13055628. Epub 2012 May 10. PMID: 22754320; PMCID: PMC3382818.
  16. Alipour S, Pishkar L, Chaleshi V. Cytotoxic Effect of Portulaca Oleracea Extract on the Regulation of CDK1 and P53 Gene Expression in Pancreatic Cancer Cell Line. Nutr Cancer. 2022;74(5):1792-1801. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2021.1960386. Epub 2021 Aug 25. PMID: 34431425.
  17. Baradaran Rahimi V, Mousavi SH, Haghighi S, Soheili-Far S, Askari VR. Cytotoxicity and apoptogenic properties of the standardized extract of Portulaca oleracea on glioblastoma multiforme cancer cell line (U-87): a mechanistic study. EXCLI J. 2019 Mar 20;18:165-186. doi: 10.17179/excli2019-1063. PMID: 31217780; PMCID: PMC6558513.
  18. Asnani GP, Kokare CR. In vitro and in vivo evaluation of colon cancer targeted epichlorohydrin crosslinked Portulaca-alginate beads. Biomol Concepts. 2018 Dec 31;9(1):190-199. doi: 10.1515/bmc-2018-0019. PMID: 30676996.
  19. Al-Sheddi ES, Farshori NN, Al-Oqail MM, Musarrat J, Al-Khedhairy AA, Siddiqui MA. Portulaca oleracea Seed Oil Exerts Cytotoxic Effects on Human Liver Cancer (HepG2) and Human Lung Cancer (A-549) Cell Lines. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(8):3383-7. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2015.16.8.3383. PMID: 25921149.
  20. Li Y, Hu Y, Shi S, Jiang L. Evaluation of antioxidant and immuno-enhancing activities of Purslane polysaccharides in gastric cancer rats. Int J Biol Macromol. 2014 Jul;68:113-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2014.04.038. Epub 2014 Apr 24. PMID: 24768972.
  21. Shen H, Tang G, Zeng G, Yang Y, Cai X, Li D, Liu H, Zhou N. Purification and characterization of an antitumor polysaccharide from Portulaca oleracea L. Carbohydr Polym. 2013 Apr 2;93(2):395-400. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2012.11.107. Epub 2012 Dec 17. PMID: 23499074.
  22. Zhao R, Gao X, Cai Y, Shao X, Jia G, Huang Y, Qin X, Wang J, Zheng X. Antitumor activity of Portulaca oleracea L. polysaccharides against cervical carcinoma in vitro and in vivo. Carbohydr Polym. 2013 Jul 25;96(2):376-83. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2013.04.023. Epub 2013 Apr 17. PMID: 23768576.
  23. YouGuo C, ZongJi S, XiaoPing C. Evaluation of free radicals scavenging and immunity-modulatory activities of Purslane polysaccharides. Int J Biol Macromol. 2009 Dec 1;45(5):448-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2009.07.009. Epub 2009 Jul 28. PMID: 19643128.

Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica.  Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.

Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection.  She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.

Our Top Anti-Cancer Foods
Get it Today!

Discover how the nutritional benefits of these foods support your body to Stop Making Cancer