>>>Can anybody tell me what deficiency I may have in my soil if I have
>>>purslane. I know the stuff spreads rapidly, and I'm trying to pull the weed
>>>by hand and remove it from the area, but I'm wondering if there is an
>>>imbalance in the soil that's allowing it to take hold. Thanks. D. Meyer
Consider eating the purslane, an very nutritious green that was an essential
part of the traditional (pre-1970's) Mediterranean diet. Not only is it
rich in fiber, carotenoids, and other beneficial phytochemicals, but it's a
fair source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid
which studies show plays a primary role in prevention of heart disease and
fatal arrhythmias. Purslane (plus some other native greens high in ALA) was
an important part of that diet (and is still consumed), because olive oil is
high in beneficial (up to a point) monounsaturated fat but is low in ALA.
Fish was another source of omega 3's.
The vital role of ALA was confirmed by the recent Lyon Heart Intervention
Study (France) involving 605 heart attack survivors. It compared a Med diet
variant (Cretan) with a diet similar to the American Heart Association's
Step II eating plan recommended for people who have already suffered a heart
attack. The study found that the Med diet reduced mortality rates by over
70% compared to the AHA-type diet.. No differences in cholesterol profiles
were found between the 2 groups, but the Med diet's superior ALA content
plus higher antioxidant plasma levels found in its consumers (thanks to all
those fruits and veggies) were thought to be the major factors accounting
for the improved survival rate (see Am. J. of Clin. Nut., 1995:61 (suppl);
The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is under some criticism for failing to
adequately distinguish between harmful saturated and trans fats vs.
beneficial mono fats and essential fatty acids, particularly ALA whose
borderline-to-deficient levels in the U.S. diet isn't adequately addressed
by the pyramid. Part of the problem is the hydrogenation of soybean oil (a
great source of ALA, much of which is destroyed in the process) and the
competitive effect of another essential fat, linoleic acid, whose ratio to
ALA is now near 20:1 in the typical U.S. diet vs. an ideal of 4:1 to 10:1.
Current research suggests that ALA deficiency could perhaps be partially
responsible for the increasing rates of depression and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder in the U.S.
So, take heart - purslane may have some redeeming qualities after all!
Consultant in agronutrition and hillside-farming systems