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Arugula Side Effects, Nutrition Facts, And Health Benefits

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.

Arugula Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA database, 1 cup of arugula (20 grams) contains (1):

  • Calories – 5 kcal
  • Protein – 0.516 g
  • Fat – 0.132 g
  • Carbohydrates – 0. 73 g
  • Vitamin K – 18% of the DV
  • Calcium – 2% of the DV
  • Vitamin C – 3% of the DV

Arugula also contains some iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and provitamin A.

Health Benefits Of Arugula

Just like other cruciferous vegetables, Arugula has a number of health benefits. 

Rich In Disease-Fighting Compounds

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).

Read More: Super Vegetables: Fiber And Antioxidant Bombs That Should Be On Your Plate Daily

May Reduce Cancer Risk

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).

May Fight Inflammation

Arugula (or rocket) has a high content of many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and may reduce inflammation associated with chronic conditions (5).

Many of the bioactive compounds found in arugula and other cruciferous and green leafy vegetables have the potential to fight inflammation and oxidative stress (5).

May Improve Gut Health

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.

May Aid Weight Loss

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.

Finally, its fiber-rich composition will help to ensure that your stomach feels full longer, which may prevent you from overeating (12).

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Supports Immunity

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.

May Prevent Anemia

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.

May Improve Bone Health

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). 

May Improve Heart Health

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).

Arugula Side Effects

The health benefits of arugula are numerous, but like most foods, there are some precautions to take into account.

Risk Of Kidney Stones

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.

Interaction With Blood Thinners

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.

Read More: Sesame Seeds Facts, Calories, Health Benefits And Side Effects

How To Buy And Prepare Arugula

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:

As A Topping

Pizzas, casseroles and sandwiches are all enhanced with arugula’s peppery taste.

As Part Of A Salad

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.

As A Side Dish

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.

In Pasta Sauce

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.

In Soups Or Sauces

The sharp flavor of arugula complements sweet or creamy dishes like cream sauces for pasta or smooth butternut squash soup.

In Omelets

Add some spice to your morning by sautéing arugula in extra-virgin olive oil and adding it to your omelet before folding it.

In Smoothies

Start your morning off right by adding arugula to your favorite fruit smoothie for a nutritional boost.

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Arugula Recipes

Here are some healthy arugula dishes you can try out at home:

Bacon, Arugula, And Egg Wraps (15)

Have you been looking for a way to upgrade your breakfast? This recipe delivers a fiber and protein rich breakfast that will keep you full all morning. Here’s how you make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups refrigerated diced potatoes
  • 6 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced shallot (about 2 oz)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce
  • 4 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups baby arugula (about 1 1/2 oz)

Instructions:

  • Start by placing the potatoes in a microwavable dish then microwave them on high for about 2 minutes or until they’re almost tender.
  • Next, place the bacon in a large skillet then cook them over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes until the bacon turns brown.
  • Add the potatoes and shallots to the skillet then turn down the heat to medium. Cook while stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes until the bacon is done and the potatoes are soft and start turning brown.
  • Remove and transfer the mixture to a bowl then cover it to keep warm. Do not wipe the skillet clean.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of water, the eggs and salt. Add the egg mixture to the skillet and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes stirring occasionally until the eggs are almost set.
  • Stir together the Srichacha and mayonnaise in a small bowl before spreading them evenly over the tortillas.
  • Finally layer the scrambled eggs, arugula and potato mixture evenly over the tortillas and fold them burrito-style. Serve immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of cookinglight.com

Potato-Chip Crusted Chicken With Arugula Pesto (14)

There’s chicken, then there’s potato-chip crusted chicken! This recipe takes things to a whole new level by delivering a crunchy, crisp and tasty flavor that will leave you coming back for more. Here’s how you make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (scant 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed kettle-style potato chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Eight 1/4 inch thick slices fresh unsalted mozzarella

Instructions:

To make the pesto:

  • Pulse together the parsley, garlic, arugula, hazelnuts, salt and parmesan in a food processor until they form a paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Now slowly and carefully stream in the olive oil then continue pulsing until the mixture forms a bright, smooth sauce. Taste and season with salt as needed.

To make the chicken:

  • Start by placing a cooling rack on a parchment-lined baking sheet before coating it using nonstick spray.
  • Position one oven rack in a way that the chicken will be about 2 to 3 inches away from the broiler and one in the middle of the over. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Next, spread 1/4 cup flour on a large plate then season it with a pinch of pepper and salt.
  • Pour the milk in a medium bowl and season it with a pinch of pepper and salt. Now in a separate medium bowl, add the potato chip crumbs until filled alongside the remaining ¼ tablespoon flour and the cayenne. Stir until well combined.
  • Use a pinch of salt and pepper to season the chicken breasts on both sides.
  • Now dip them, one at a time, in the seasoned flour until well coated. Shake off any excess and dunk it into the milk, letting all the excesses drip off before rolling them through the potato chip mixture. Press to coat.
  • Put the chicken in the prepared baking rack and pat any extra potato chip coating on top of the chicken breasts.
  • Bake the chicken breasts on the middle rack for about 18 to 20 minutes  until golden crusts form, and are cooked through with their juices running clear. Remove the chicken then turn on the broiler.
  • Cover the chicken breasts using 2 slices of mozzarella before returning them to the oven, placing them on the top rack.
  • Broil them for about 4 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and starts turning brown.
  • Remove and transfer to a large serving platter and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Smear a few spoonfuls of the pesto on the chicken breasts and serve.

This recipe is courtesy of purewow.com

Grilled Broccoli And Arugula Salad (11)

This healthy side dish can go with just about any meal giving it a much needed nutrition boost. Here’s how you make it:

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and reserved
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy filet
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chervil with tender sprigs
  • 1 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups mature arugula, tough stems removed, leaves torn
  • 3 1/2 ounces smoked cheddar, grated

Instructions:

  • Start by cooking the broccoli in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes until it turns bright green and tender. Drain them and transfer to a bowl of ice water allowing it to cool then drain. Pat the broccoli dry then place it in a large bowl.
  • Next, prepare a grill for medium-high heat.
  • Drizzle the oil over the broccoli, toss it until it’s well coated and season with salt. Grill the broccoli for about 5-7 minutes occasionally turning it until it’s charred in spots. Remove and return to the bowl, letting it cool while tossing occasionally.
  • Puree anchovy, mayonnaise, garlic, buttermilk, tarragon,chervil, lemon juice, chives and the mustard in a blender until it turns smooth. Season the dressing with salt.
  • Add arugula to the broccoli and toss until well combined. Drizzle the salad with 3/4 cup dressing, tossing until well coated. Season with more salt if needed.
  • Arrange the salad on a platter then top with cheddar.

This recipe is courtesy of bonappetit.com

The Bottom Line

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.

DISCLAIMER:

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!

SOURCES:

  1. Arugula, raw (2019, usda.gov)
  2. Arugula: Nutrition, Benefits, Risks, & More (2020, webmd.com)
  3. Association Between Usual Vitamin K Intake and Anticoagulation in Patients Under Warfarin Therapy (2015, nih.gov)
  4. Association of Vitamin A Intake With Cutaneous Squamous cell Carcinoma Risk in the United States (2019, jamanetwork.com)
  5. Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables (2012, sciencedirect.com)
  6. Cruciferous vegetables and Cancer Prevention (2012, cancer.gov)
  7. Dietary Fiber, Gut Microbiota, and Metabolic Regulation – Current Status in Human Randomized Trials (2020, nih.gov)
  8. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplements in Prevention of Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (2015, nih.gov)
  9. Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk (2011, pubmed.gov)
  10. Green leafy and cruciferous vegetable consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from the Singapore Chinese Health Study and meta-analysis (2018, cambridge.org)
  11. Grilled Broccoli and Arugula Salad (2016, bonappetit.com)
  12. Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, pubmed.gov)
  13. Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease (2013, nih.gov)
  14. Potato-Chip Crusted Chicken with Arugula Pesto (n.d., purewow.com)
  15. Upgrade Your Breakfast With These Bacon, Arugula, and Egg Wraps (2018, cookinglight.com)
  16. Vitamin C and Immune Function (2017, nih.gov)
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