Purslane is also known as parsley, verdolaga, or red root and is an annual succulent in the Portulacaceae family. It is widespread in the temperate zones: in the Mediterranean region, America, and Asia. From the culinary point of view, it can be used as a vegetable or spice.
Purslane contains chemical elements like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and constitutes a source of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. Alpha-linoleic acid is an essential nutrient and plays an important role in inflammatory processes.
Moreover, purslane contains polysaccharides and glutathione. The latter is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by free oxygen radicals, among other things.
It also has a very high amount of beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A), alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and B-complex vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, and riboflavin (1).
A 2016 study performed in adults with type 2 diabetes showed that purslane decreased the blood pressure significantly. Moreover, patients with diabetes showed a significant decline in HbA1c, a parameter used to measure the long-term control of diabetes, due to the intake of purslane extract (2).
In addition, purslane possesses antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activities against common fungi like Candida albicans (3), viruses like the Herpes simplex virus (4), and bacteria like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Purslane inhibits Tumor Necrosis Factor α, which is responsible for the production of free oxygen radicals, among other damaging reactions in the body (5).
Moreover, it represents an effective therapeutic agent for gastrointestinal diseases due to its gastroprotective activity. It also has protective activity of the liver, as studies in mice showed that elevated liver enzymes could be decreased significantly by purslane extract (6).
Purslane is a medicinal plant with a multitude of healthy properties. Furthermore, studies in mice have shown that it has the capacity to protect the telomere length (7). The telomere is a region at each end of a chromosome which protects the end of that chromosome from deterioration.
There is evidence that oxidative stress-mediated damage of our DNA (the molecule encoding our genetic code) is an important determinant of telomere shortening (8). Telomere shortening is associated with aging, mortality, and aging-related diseases (9).
Taking into account the telomere protective function of purslane and its high nutritive and antioxidant properties, purslane can be described as the new “power food”.