Purslane as a source of omega-3: a reality check

Purslane has gained a reputation as being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. An oft-cited 1992 analysis, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that 100 grams of purslane contained 300-400 mg of omega-3 fats.

But if you search the scientific literature, you’ll see that the amount of omega-3 fats in purslane varies a LOT, depending on the variety, the age of the plant, the part of the plant you analyze (leaves, stems, seeds), and the time of harvest. The purslane analyzed in the 1992 study was clearly at the high end of the range.

Is purslane a valuable source of omega-3 or not?

It’s true that, compared to other green vegetables, purslane is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. About half the fat in purslane is omega-3. But green vegetables are very low in fat, so that doesn’t add up to much.

Let me put this in perspective for you: Even if you were lucky enough to got some high octane purslane like the stuff analyzed by Simopoulos in 1992, you’d need to eat 4 pounds of it to get the amount of ALA found in one tablespoon of flaxseed oil.  Hope you’re hungry!

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