Last Updated on November 27, 2020
In the last two decades, the popularity of arugula has risen, and the demand for this healthy cruciferous greens has grown around the world. It’s also known by its other names such as colewort, gargeer, garden rocket, salad rocket, roquette, or rucola.
For those unfamiliar with this leafy green, it’s often mistaken for a loose leaf lettuce, but it’s actually from the mustard family which explains its peppery taste and pungent aroma. It’s characterized by its long lobed sprouts and is harvested early before it develops a very bitter taste.
Arugula leaves used to be exotic and are only commonly used in Mediterranean dishes, but it can now be found in most supermarkets around the world. It’s now grown among other herbs in home gardens.
Once a fancy ingredient used by top chefs, it’s now commonly used in salads, sandwiches, soup, pizza, and pesto. It’s not just the taste that sets the arugula apart from other leafy greens, but its nutritional value and health benefits.
A handful of arugula is super-packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which is the reason why it ranked within the top 10 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.
One serving of arugula will give you 50% of your daily serving of vitamin K, 20% of the recommended vitamin A, a gram of protein, and 8% each of the recommended vitamin C, calcium, and folate.
Weight Loss and Healthy Digestion
Maintaining a healthy diet while trying to lose weight can be very challenging for some. If you want to pack in more nutrients while laying low on calories, arugula should be on the top of your superfood list. A serving of two cups, equivalent to 40 grams of arugula, amounts to only 10 calories and 0.3 grams of fat.
As a leafy vegetable, it’s packed with fiber and chlorophyll. Fiber helps you feel full longer and helps bowel movement along. Many intestinal problems are prevented by getting enough dietary fiber. This is because 80% of our immune system thrives in our digestive system.
A weak intestinal lining can cause an imbalance in the number of healthy gut flora found in the intestine. An irritable digestive system can lead to several different illnesses that can also affect other parts of the body.
Chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color, is a natural appetite suppressant and contributes to the body’s natural detoxification process.
Natural Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant
Pain and degeneration naturally comes with age, but you can slow it down and reduce its effects and symptoms by fighting it off with natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories found in arugula.
Antioxidants counteract the deterioration of cells within the body by destroying free radicals and repairing the damage caused by them.
Inflammation is not inherently bad as it is uncomfortable. It’s a natural reaction by the immune system when a person is hurt or ill. But unnecessary and prolonged inflammation can become chronic. It can then lead to diseases that can compromise our own immune system.
This results to tissue death and scarring of connective tissues over the years. To bring down inflammation to a proper level, anti-inflammatories are needed. Arugula helps lessen inflammation naturally by promoting healing within the body against infections and wounds.
Since it’s also high in vitamin C, it boosts the immune system which helps fight against common illness and symptoms that cause inflammation.
High in Carotenoids
While carotenoids are what gives vegetables their yellow, red, and orange color, they also help protect the chlorophyll in plants. Arugula is not any of the colors above, but it’s high in carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. When we take in enough beta-carotene, our body turns it into vitamin A which strengthens the immune system, preserves eye health and vision, slows down the decline of mental activity, keeps the mucus membrane healthy, and gives you clear skin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the best carotenoids that can help preserve your vision. Through age, the eyes become weaker, develop cataract, or lose their function.
These two carotenoids absorb the harmful blue light emitted by the sun and gadgets. Not having enough of these two carotenoids can lead to eye degeneration.
Best for Pregnant and Lactating Mothers
Pregnant women are often prescribed prenatal vitamins rich in folate, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. This is to ensure that the fetus develops normally and without congenital defects. The immune system of both mother and child must be fortified to avoid illnesses.
The mother will need calcium to strengthen her bones, since she’ll be carrying a progressively heavy weight for nine months. Delivery of the baby will also require unusual strength from the mother.
Blood loss can be expected from delivery, which is why iron is needed to maintain the blood levels and to help with faster blood clotting.
Arugula is rich in all of the minerals and vitamins mentioned above and has a very high amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K promotes calcium absorption. It’s also essential in helping with blood clotting, and developing bone density and muscle regeneration.
Lactating mothers can benefit from eating arugula in the form of calcium and a healthy gut. Arugula helps produce the best milk for the baby.
Supports the Musculoskeletal System
Mothers are not the only ones who stand to benefit from the high vitamin K and calcium content of this vegetable.
Everyone benefits from eating arugula. It can prevent osteoporosis, a debilitating disease which weakens the bones and the spine, causing the person to be vulnerable to injury and fractures.
Arugula has a low level of oxalates. These are organic compounds that can do a lot of damage to you when the body has high levels of it.
If there’s too much in the gut, it can prevent you from absorbing minerals from the food you eat. Some high-oxalate foods can even prevent you from absorbing enough calcium for the bones.
Oxalates can bind themselves with other mineral compounds and collect on the joints, which can be very painful and limit mobility. It can contribute to the development of painful osteoarthritis and gout in both men and women.
The bad news about oxalate buildup is that it can also build up in your kidneys and urinary tract, causing stones to grow. It’s important to limit your oxalate intake every day.
Injured people are encouraged to eat leafy greens such as arugula. Potassium and vitamin K promotes blood clotting. Vitamin K also promotes bone metabolism, allowing the body to constantly remodel bones in the body.
Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant candidates often have low vitamin K levels in their bodies due to a lot of medication and a weaker musculoskeletal system than the ordinary person. They can benefit from eating vitamin K-rich arugula.
Lowers the Risk for Cancer
Plants are abundant in phytochemicals. These are naturally-occurring chemical compounds that help fight against predators and pathogens.
Plants don’t lose their phytochemicals when harvested and when are ingested. Arugula is one of the vegetables that’s very rich in phytochemicals.
Taking phytochemicals in pill form is not as effective as eating at least five cups of vegetables and fruits a day. With arugula, you can load up on the goodness of phytochemicals without negating its effect due to having low oxalate content, low fat, and low calorie content.
Phytochemicals such as indoles, isothiocyanates, thiocyanates, and sulforaphane can be found in arugula. These phytochemicals can counter the effects of carcinogenic substances in the body.
It can also inhibit the activity of cancer cells that are present in the body, preventing them from developing into any of the several types of cancer.
Another cancer-fighting chemical found in arugula is indole-3-carbinol, which protects the DNA from cellular damage, and induces death of cancer and affected cells.
When metabolized, it turns into di-indolyl-methane which is used in the treatment of formation of tumors, specifically, in the respiratory system and the cervix. Tumors can sometimes lead to or be the cause of the growth of cancer cells.
Arugula’s even beneficial for cancer patients and cancer survivors; it helps them regain their health and strength. All-in-all, arugula is basically a superfood that helps you live a longer and healthier life.
If you’re trying to watch your nutritional intake, look no further. The USDA National Nutrient Database has a guide on the nutritional value of 100 grams of arugula. Some of the nutrients it has are the following:
- 25 Kcal of energy
- 65 grams of carbohydrates
- 58 grams of protein
- 66 grams of fat
- 6 grams of dietary fiber
- 97 µg of folates
- 15 mg of vitamin C
- 2373 IU of vitamin A
- 43 mg of vitamin E
- 6 µg of vitamin K
- 369 mg of potassium
- 160 mg of calcium –
- 46 mg of iron
- 1424 µg of Carotene-ß
- 3555 µg of lutein and zeaxanthin
Arugula can be added to many dishes for a burst of peppery flavor. If you can get your hands on this dark green vegetable, we recommend that you do so at every chance. Together with other fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and water, you can maintain a healthy diet without relying on supplements.
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet now so that our body can reap both short-term and long-term benefits.