The Top 10 Health Benefits of Arugula
Arugula is an extremely healthy and nutritious cruciferous vegetable that many people have never heard of.
Also called salad rocket or garden rocket, it has a distinctive and delicious peppery flavor to its soft green leaves and goes particularly well in fresh salads.
Arugula also has some surprising health benefits for more energy, disease prevention and a healthier appearance. Here’s just what makes rocket so good for you.
10 Great Reasons Why Arugula Is Healthy
1. Cancer Protection
Like many other cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains special sulfur containing substances called glucosinolates with many potential benefits for your health. When you eat arugula in a salad or other meal, these glucosinolates are broken down into powerful compounds known as indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates.
Cancer researchers are particularly interested in indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) for their potent anticarcinogenic properties. Research studies have found indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane and possibly other indoles and isothiocyanates may inhibit cancer development by:
- Inactivating cancer-causing chemicals and protecting cellular DNA from damage.
- Inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cells that have already become cancerous.
- Preventing tumor blood vessel formation and tumor cell migration.
The isothiocyanates and indoles in cruciferous vegetables like arugula have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral effects.
There has been such an interest in these powerful nutrients that sulforaphane glucosinolate capsules like these made from broccoli seeds have become popular as cancer prevention supplements. They are best taken with the largest meat based or fried meal of the day, particularly if it contains processed meat.
Ideally get a good supply of cruciferous vegetables like arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, brussels sprouts and the very healthy bok choy into your diet.
Though with the number of potentially carcinogenic substances in our foods, drinks and environment these days, supplementation could be advisable if you’re not eating a lot of superfoods like arugula.
2. High in Vitamin K for Your Heart, Bones and Skin
Any look at the health benefits of arugula would have to praise its rich vitamin K content. 100 grams of arugula contains around 109 mg of this important vitamin, which is 136% of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin K is intimately involved in calcium regulation and metabolism and helps get the mineral into your bones and keep it there. Low vitamin K intake can lead to crippling osteoporosis later in life and is implicated in many other degenerative diseases.
When calcium is being leached out of your bones due to vitamin K deficiency it can be deposited in your arteries and lead to serious cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery calcification.
People with circulatory problems should make sure they get a good intake of vitamin K rich foods like arugula and other cruciferous vegetables to keep calcium where it should be in their body.
Proper calcium metabolism is even necessary for healthy skin. Without enough vitamin K in your diet, calcium can stiffen the elastin fibers that help keep your skin soft and subtle.
Longer-term, this can be one of the causes of skin aging and wrinkles, but even in the short term improving your vitamin K intake has been reported to help many skin problems.
3. Eye Nutrients in Arugula
Two special eye antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin are found in good levels in arugula. These phytonutrients are concentrated by your body in the macula region of your eye, the area responsible for detecting fine details like the words on this screen.
Lutein and zeaxanthin help protect your eye’s macula from both UV light and high-intensity blue light that can cause eyestrain and vision problems. Orange and red vegetables like bell peppers, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, along with dark leafy greens are some of the best sources but unfortunately it’s difficult to get large enough amounts of these eye antioxidants unless you eat a lot of these foods.
These days most of us use our eyes for reading fine detail a lot more than ever before and often push them right to their limit. I know I do so I personally take these concentrated lutein and zeaxanthin capsules made from marigold flowers each morning with breakfast.
I’ve noticed a definite improvement in eye comfort over long work periods and less eye strain since taking them and you should find they help you too if you spend much of your day in front of an electronic screen.
4. Antioxidant Health Benefits
Arugula is a good source of antioxidant carotenoids like beta-carotene for preventing free radical damage to the cells in your body. In fact it has an ORAC rating of 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams and is considered a high antioxidant food alongside all of its other health benefits.
The beta-carotene in arugula is often listed as vitamin A and nutritional information notes it as containing nearly half of the recommended daily intake. In fact, this is only potential vitamin A if you are deficient in it.
Beta-carotene is often better off in your body as an antioxidant and vitamin A should ideally be obtained from preformed vitamin A foods like free range eggs, grass fed butter and especially cod liver oil.
5. Vitamin C
Another antioxidant found in arugula is vitamin C, with nutrition data saying it contains 25% of the recommended daily intake in 100 grams of the pepper flavored leaves.
As well as quenching free radical damage throughout your body, vitamin C, like vitamin K has an important role to play in skin health and has many benefits for protecting your cardiovascular system.
6. Folate and B Vitamins
Arugula contains 97 mcg of folate or 24% of the recommended daily intake. As well as preventing birth defects in pregnant women, folate is involved in serotonin production and red blood cell creation. It is also being studied for a preventative effect against heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and depression.
Dark leafy greens like arugula are some of the best sources of folate and ideally it should come from foods like these rather than the folic acid in cheap multivitamins.
A good variety of most of the other B vitamins, with the exception of B12, are all found in arugula and will add to your daily intake of these important nutrients.
Arugula is quite high in natural calcium, which at 160 mg per 100 grams goes well with its naturally high vitamin K content. The dark green leaves also contain helpful amounts of magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and iron.
8. Rich in Chlorophyll
Leafy greens like arugula are a great source of alkalizing and detoxifying chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is like the green blood of plant leaves and actually closely resembles our own red blood cells. Because of this it is known as an excellent blood cleanser and oxygenator.
Alkalizing and oxygenating your blood with dark leafy greens or chlorophyll rich green smoothies can have a strong detoxification effect throughout your body. Many people notice an increase in their energy levels when they start including more high chlorophyll foods like arugula in the meals.
9. Arugula as an Aphrodisiac?
Since Roman times arugula has had a reputation as an aphrodisiac. While it isn’t especially high in obvious nutrients for increasing libido, like testosterone promoting Brazil nuts for instance, arugula’s overall health benefits may just add a little extra energy to your love life if you eat it regularly.
10. Calories and Weight Loss
Very low in calories with 100 grams of the vegetable having just 25 calories, and even more importantly just 3.7 grams of carbohydrates, arugula is a great weight loss food.
An excellent way to use arugula for losing weight is to make it a base for your meals and use it to replace fattening grain products like pasta and bread. It has a rich peppery flavor and is much more interesting to eat than bland lettuce or many other salad vegetables.
Try having the fillings you would usually have on a sandwich mixed into in arugula salad with slices of fat burning avocado. It’s surprisingly versatile and can be used instead of pasta or rice in many dishes. Arugula also goes especially well with some grass fed beef or organic chicken served right on top of a bed of the peppery green leaves.
Replacing the grain-based foods that promote weight gain with arugula and other dark leafy greens is a simple way to boost your nutritional intake and minimize body fat storing insulin spikes. In the long term this is a far easier way of keeping the weight off than restrictive dieting.
Arugula Selection and Storage
You should be able to find fresh arugula in the market throughout the year. Look for the younger bright green leaves and avoid any with too many yellow or wilted leaves.
I always try and get organic arugula to avoid sprays. If you can’t find organic at very least it’s recommended to soak the leaves in hot water and a splash of apple cider vinegar or other edible vinegar to clean them and minimize any residues before eating them.
I hope all of these arugula health benefits have inspired you to give it a try or start using it more regularly. It really is an amazing superfood and I’d appreciate if you share how healthy arugula is with your friends using one of the buttons below.
How do you like to eat arugula and what other kind of foods do you think it goes well with? The healthy fats in avocado make it a great tasting and particularly good nutritional fit and chopped tomato in an arugula based salad like this is a great combination but the possibilities are endless.
Photo 1: Yesica
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