Arugula is an edible plant. Also known as rocket or rucola, this popular salad green is rich in health benefits. Arugula’s pungent leaves have a distinctive flavor and have been used in cooking since Roman times. The classical poet Virgil even touted its aphrodisiac qualities. Arugula is delicious on pizzas, raw, or cooked. We’ll examine the nutritional values and health benefits of arugula, as well as some common uses of this green.
Health Benefits of Arugula
While its aphrodisiac qualities are probably questionable, this tasty herb does have many health benefits including weight management, eye health, and cancer-fighting benefits.
Greens Help Manage Weight
All dark, leafy greens are packed with fiber and extremely low in calories. Eating plenty of fiber in the form of greens has almost no impact on your calorie intake, and the fiber helps you feel full longer. Feeling satiated is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids. Our bodies convert carotenoids like beta-carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps protect your eyes and has been shown to slow the process of macular degeneration in some studies. Carotenoids are vital to our ability to see properly, especially when it comes to visibility in low light.
Arugula is one of the brassica family of vegetables, along with cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. This family is high in anti-oxidants which have been found to have cancer-fighting properties, especially when it comes to breast, pancreatic, prostate or lung cancers.
Many leafy greens are rich in folate, and folate is an important mineral to supplement with if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Ensuring a proper folate intake while pregnant can lower the risk of various congenital disabilities.
Arugula is rich in vitamin K, and vitamin K has long been known as an agent that helps bones heal, build and grow stronger. What’s good for your bones is also good for your teeth, so the addition of this leafy green benefits your dental health as well.
Arugula Nutritional Value
In addition to the numerous arugula health benefits we mentioned earlier, this leafy green plant contains a variety of essential nutrients. Leafy greens like arugula are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants while being low in calories.
Two cups of this peppery green have only 10 calories. This is partly because greens are so full of water.
Vitamins and Minerals
Greens, in general, are a great source of vitamins and minerals. But just 2 cups of arugula contain a surprising amount of nutrients:
- 8% of daily vitamin C
- 20% of daily vitamin A
- 50% of daily vitamin K
- 8% of daily folate
- 8% of daily calcium
- 1 gram of protein
- 1.8 grams carbohydrates, .6 of which is fiber
Arugula is especially nutritionally dense, even for a leafy green. It comes in in the top 20 foods on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. This index, also known as the ANDI, measures food by vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient makeup, compared to calorie count.
Salad is the most common use for this strongly flavored green. To maintain most of the nutrients, try to keep it raw.
Arugula is a popular salad green. Dressed simply with just lemon juice, good olive oil, salt, and pepper it makes an excellent side dish on its own. However, topping an omelet, pizza, poached egg, avocado toast or just a slice of prosciutto with this tasty blend can elevate a simple snack into a real dining experience.
Pesto is another great way to get this powerful green into your diet. Simply replace the basil with arugula leaves and follow the proportions below:
- 2 cups arugula
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Blend as you would a regular pesto, by adding the oil slowly to the greens, then adding the nuts, juice, salt and cheese. This is a great nutritious no-cook sauce on zucchini noodles or terrific for dipping. By replacing regular pesto with rocket pesto in these recipes, you get to take advantage of the health benefits of arugula and zucchini in one delicious meal.
One of the absolute best ways to really emphasize the sharp, peppery flavor of rocket is by substituting it for regular lettuce on a salad. Below are some great sandwiches that will be even better with a few arugula leaves added!
- Grilled steak and sharp cheddar cheese
- Chilled salmon and homemade mayonnaise
- Chicken salad with grapes and walnuts
- Tuna salad with celery, red peppers and tomatoes
- Mozzarella with olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes
- Pear and brie
- A classic Italian sandwich with salami, ham and pickled vegetables
- Barbecued chicken or pork on a pretzel roll
Arugula and Dill Potato Salad
This is another great recipe to highlight the strong tang of arugula. Mixed with the very mild flavor of potatoes and yogurt, it will really stand out.
- 1 1/2 potatoes
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 mayonnaise
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 1 bunch large arugula leaves
- 1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Cook diced potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. In the meantime mix all other ingredients together. Drain the potatoes and toss all together while they are still warm. This allows the flavor of the dressing to soak into the flesh of the potato. Serve warm or cold.
Arugula is a delicious, nutritious leafy green. It’s also incredibly versatile. You can use arugula in pretty much any fresh salad recipe. It has a high nutritional density and includes many vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and A. Including it in your diet can help maintain a healthy weight, ensure strong bones and teeth and improve prenatal health.
How do you take advantage of arugula health benefits? Share your thoughts and recipes in the comments!