Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that’s part of the mustard family. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that’s related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Arugula is also known as rocket greens, roquette or rucola. This green leafy veggie has a peppery, spicy flavor and can be found in most grocery stores year round. Aside from being tasty in salads, sandwiches and soups, arugula is rich in a number of nutrients. Let’s look at arugula’s nutrition facts, health benefits and potential side effects.
According to the USDA database, 1 cup of arugula (20 grams) contains (1):
Arugula also contains some iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and provitamin A.
Just like other cruciferous vegetables, Arugula has a number of health benefits.
Arugula is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, including vitamin C. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals throughout the body which may otherwise damage cells and lead to an array of health problems (2).
Arugula is also rich in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which give arugula its bitter flavor. Glucosinolates might be protective against certain types of cancer because they may protect against DNA damage, induce cell death in precancerous cells, and reduce tumor size and number by inducing apoptosis (cell death), among other possible mechanisms (2).
According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 100 different types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, and ovarian cancer. Researchers believe that a high intake of fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of developing some types of cancer (9).
The glucosinolates in this vegetable may be beneficial in cancer prevention by inducing apoptosis in cancer cells. Arugula is one of the vegetables that belong to the Brassica genus which has this glucosinolate effect on cancer cells (6).
Arugula is rich in beta carotenes, which turn into Vitamin A in the body. According to research, foods high in Vitamin A may reduce tumor growth and prevent metastasis (the spread of cancer cells from one organ or area to another). One study found that higher dietary intakes of vitamin A and carotenoids were associated with lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer (4).
Arugula contains vitamin C, an antioxidant which protects against cell damage and possibly cancer formation. Some studies have found that higher intakes of vitamin C from the diet (but not supplements) were associated with decreased risk of certain cancers (8).
When you eat cruciferous vegetables, your body breaks down the glucosinolates into indoles and isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs are phytochemicals that help prevent inflammation and tissue damage, and have potential anticancer activity. ITC-containing foods have been shown in numerous studies to potentially reduce the risk of lung, mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers (6).
A diet rich in vegetables, such as arugula, may help restore the vital bacterial balance in your gut, potentially improving health benefits for you. This is because raw vegetables such as arugula contain prebiotics, which are indigestible fibers that act as food for beneficial gut bacteria (5).
Fiber also acts to bulk up stool so it passes through the intestine more quickly for regular healthy bowel movements. Eating lots of high-fiber foods like vegetables has long been associated with better digestive health. This may ultimately reduce your risk for chronic gastrointestinal (GI) diseases such as: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colorectal cancer (12).
Arugula also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals that maintain these bacteria, which can improve both your digestion and immunity.
Weight loss is simply the result of a calorie deficit. In order to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories per day than your body burns. Arugula has only 5 calories per cup, so it is an excellent food choice if you are counting your calories for weight loss (1).
Replacing high-calorie foods that are less nutritious with low-calorie, highly nutritious foods like arugula, can help you achieve a calorie deficit.
Arugula has high water content. For example, it has 95% water by mass. Eating high-water content foods is another way to reduce calorie intake since your brain offloads its sense of fullness during digestion.
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Arugula contains immunity-supporting vitamin C and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which may aid the immune system by protecting cells against oxidative stress.
Arugula also contains iron, which is needed to produce red blood cells that are necessary for transporting oxygen to your tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common types of anemia, which can lead to fatigue, loss of energy and difficulty concentrating (13). Arugula also contains other vitamins and minerals which are necessary for red blood cell function.
Arugula contains a small amount of calcium, a mineral that is necessary for strong bones and teeth. In addition, arugula contains vitamin K. Vitamin K stimulates bone-building by activating osteocalcin, a protein involved in the mineralization of bone (2).
Arugula has heart-protective properties, particularly against cardiovascular disease. High in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, vegetables like arugula may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension and strokes by limiting oxidative damage. Finally, compounds called glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables like arugula may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure (5).
The health benefits of arugula are numerous, but like most foods, there are some precautions to take into account.
Arugula contains oxalates , which may cause kidney stones in people who eat large amounts over time. Oxalates bind easily with calcium and magnesium to form crystals that can be irritating to your kidneys (7).
While cooking can reduce the amount of oxalates in foods , it still may not completely eliminate them. If you are prone to forming oxalate kidney stones, you should talk with your healthcare provider about how much arugula (and other high-oxalate foods) is appropriate for you to eat.
Arugula contains vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your blood clot normally. Since blood thinners work by limiting blood clotting activity in the body, consuming a lot of vitamin K might work against and limit the effects of your medication (3).
If you take a blood thinner, discuss with your healthcare provider whether taking arugula is appropriate for you.
When buying arugula, choose bunches with dark green leaves and avoid those that have flowering buds, which may be bitter.
When preparing it at home, use a sharp knife to remove the roots and separate the leaves from the thick stems. Avoid bruising by handling arugula gently when washing it in your salad spinner or colander.
To keep your arugula fresh, put the unwashed bunches in spinner bags or wrapped loosely in paper towels inside of your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Arugula can last for up to five days when stored properly.
There are many ways to eat arugula. You can try it:
Pizzas, casseroles and sandwiches are all enhanced with arugula’s peppery taste.
For an aromatic twist, mix arugula with sweet fruits like bananas or dried apricots and toasted nuts like almonds or pecans. As part of your salad, its sharp flavor also pairs well with tangy dressings like citrus vinaigrettes or creamy ranch.
Arugula’s slightly bitter taste is well suited for sautéing and pairs well with strong flavors like garlic, mushrooms and caramelized onions. When steamed or wilted, its peppery flavor mellows out.
Arugula is a popular pizza topping, but you can also try adding it to your favorite tomato sauce. It pairs well with garlic, onion and sun-dried tomatoes in particular.
The sharp flavor of arugula complements sweet or creamy dishes like cream sauces for pasta or smooth butternut squash soup.
Add some spice to your morning by sautéing arugula in extra-virgin olive oil and adding it to your omelet before folding it.
Start your morning off right by adding arugula to your favorite fruit smoothie for a nutritional boost.
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Here are some healthy arugula dishes you can try out at home:
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This recipe is courtesy of cookinglight.com
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To make the pesto:
To make the chicken:
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This healthy side dish can go with just about any meal giving it a much needed nutrition boost. Here’s how you make it:
This recipe is courtesy of bonappetit.com
Like other cruciferous vegetables, arugula is high in fiber and other nutrients, including iron and vitamin K. This makes it especially valuable for healthy living.
You can eat this vegetable raw or cooked, and it can be used to add flavor and texture to many foods. For people who need to limit their oxalate intake, cooking arugula may help reduce the amount of oxalates in this food.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!