If you haven’t tasted arugula, you might think it’s just another variation on lettuce. But this peppery green is both delicious and one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Arugula has very few calories and lots of powerful compounds that fight cancer, boost your vision, and guard against disease. Let’s look at what makes this little known green such an important addition to your diet.
What is Arugula?
Arugula is just one of the names that is used to describe this cruciferous vegetable. It also goes by rucola, garden rocket and rucola. Its leaves are shaped like long spears with several lobes on either side. It can grow wild or it can be planted in a garden, but most of today’s arugula is grown on commercial farms.
People have been eating arugula for thousands of years. The Ancient Romans believed that people who ate arugula had better health, and they were right. Arugula is in the same family as cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy and Brussels sprouts.
1. Arugula is One of the World’s Lowest Calorie, Highest Nutrient Foods
The list of nutrients found in this low calorie food is astonishing. Eating it gives you Vitamins A and K, folate and beta carotene. It also has many anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic characteristics that make it a powerful healing food. One cup of arugula contains:
Calories – 5
Fiber – 1 gram
Vitamin K – 22 mg (28% of RDV)
Vitamin A – 475 mg (10% of RDV)
Folate – 19 mg (4% of RDV)
Vitamin C – 6 mg (4% of RDV)
Calcium – 32 mg (4% of RDV)
Manganese – 0.06 mg (4% of RDV)
Besides these important vitamins and minerals, the thing that makes arugula stand out nutritionally is the many phytonutrients that are hidden in its green leaves. Arugula contains “glucosinolates” and “isothiocyanates” which are believed to kill cancer cells. It contains carotenoids that fight damage done by the sun, aging and pollutants and antioxidants that fight inflammation.
Bottom Line: Arugula is a vegetable that boosts your immune system and provides important nutrients, all with a great taste and very few calories.
2. Arugula is a Cancer-Fighting Vegetable
Like all cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains isothiocyanates and indoles. These compounds have strong anti-cancer properties that work in three different ways.
- They stop the bad effects of cancer causing chemicals
- They cause cell death in cancer cells
- They stop cancer cells from traveling to other parts of the body and tumors from forming blood vessels
Arugula helps clear harmful cancer-causing toxins out of the body. Studies have shown that it is particularly helpful in the fight of cancers in the intestinal tract as well as in preventing breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and bladder cancer. In addition to the nutrients that the vegetable contains, the compounds in arugula also mix with a digestive enzyme in the human body that helps make them even more powerful cancer fighters.
Bottom Line: Arugula is a natural way to guard against cancer and to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.
3. Arugula Is Loaded with Antioxidants that Help Strengthen Your Immune System and Repair Damage
Arugula is loaded with antioxidants that help keep the levels of disease-fighting enzymes in your body high. Its high levels of copper help your body build more white blood cells to fight against infections. With 25% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C it helps defend against viruses and cancer and repairs damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also helps to protect your heart against disease.
Bottom Line: Arugula’s high levels of antioxidant action destroy the free radicals that can damage your body’s organs and lead to premature aging and cell damage.
4. Arugula Keeps Your Vision Clear and Strong
We all grew up hearing that carrots are good for our eyes. It’s true because they have high levels of beta carotene. Arugula leaves contains both Vitamin A and beta carotene which turns into Vitamin A. It slows down the progression of an eye condition called macular degeneration that keeps people from being able to see details as they age. The betacarotenes in arugula are “lutein” and “zeaxanthin.” Both protect the eyes from light rays that cause vision problems and eye strain.
Bottom Line: The antioxidants in arugula help filter out things in the environment that can cause your vision to fade as you grow older.
5. The Vitamin K in Arugula Helps Keep Your Bones Strong
Vitamin K is one of the most important nutrients found in arugula. One 1 cup has 25% of the Vitamin K women need each day and 18% of what men need. That’s a good thing, because Vitamin K helps us absorb calcium and helps us stop losing it as a result of getting older. Vitamin K helps bones to form and keeps the pathways in the brain open. This helps slow down the progress of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s It also protects against heart disease, as when your bones lose calcium it gets carried away in your blood. Calcium in the blood can get stuck in your arteries and raise your risk of a blockage.
Your body also needs Vitamin K to make sure that your blood clots when you get hurt. People who are low on Vitamin K bruise easily and may be prone to nosebleeds. Vitamin K will also keeps your skin looking soft and can prevent wrinkles and the signs of aging
Bottom Line: The Vitamin K in arugula is one of the most important nutrient we need to fight bone loss. It may even be better for our bone health than calcium!
What You Need to Know When Shopping for Arugula
Arugula has a peppery taste, and the younger the greens are, the stronger the flavor. When shopping for arugula look for leaves that are very green. When arugula is no longer fresh it starts to turn yellow and to wilt. It is best within a few days of buying it.
You can eat arugula raw as a base for a salad or add it to cooked foods like pasta. You can also chop it up and use it as an herb.