My first encounter with this vegetable was when a very close friend of mine invited me for a dinner. She served me a vegetable salad with a nutty crunchy flavour with a bitter taste. I didn’t hesitate to ask her what vegetable was in the salad, she told me that the vegetable was popularly known as Rocket. The following day I went to the vegetable market to buy this vegetable. I juiced it with other green vegetable and boy the taste was great. Ever since then I juice it more often. Arugula also known as Eruca sativa belongs to the family of Brassicaceae alongside with kale and cauliflower and is widely used in Italian cooking. It can be found throughout the world but predominantly used in America, North Africa and Europe. Rocket grows 8 – 40 inches in height and has oat shaped leaves. The young tender leaves have sweet flavour while the matured leaves have strong spicy flavour. Arugula is highly drought resistant and is cultivated in areas of poor rainfall.
Arugula is rich in the following nutrients: Protein, Vitamin A, C, K, Folate, Choline, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Water. Arugula also contains phytochemicals and antioxidants which are beneficial in fighting free radicals and prevention of cancer. Arugula is low in oxalates, which are chemicals that inhibits the absorption of minerals into the body. Arugula also provides high levels of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) for raising good cholesterol levels and lowering the bad. Its flavonoid helps lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, prevent cholesterol from sticking to arteries, lower inflammation, and improve blood vessel function.
Health Benefits of Arugula
Strengthens Bones and the Brain: One of the key benefits of arugula is that it’s essential for bone health and also helps with blood clot formation. This is due to the high level of vitamin K in arugula. Some experts believes that vitamin K builds bones better than calcium and also strengthens the bone. I usually advice patients suffering from diseases like osteoporosis to take adequate amount of arugula juice. Most of them who heed to this advice do see tremendous improvements. Also neural pathway like that found in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed down by an increase in vitamin K in a person’s diet.
- Anti-Cancer: Arugula contains a wide array of cancer fighting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates, thiocyanates and sulforaphane. Isothiocynates helps inhibit cell proliferation and stop cancerous tumor growth, and also neutralizes free radicals and dangerous carcinogens that can lead to DNA damage and cell mutation. These phytochemicals also counter carcinogenic properties of estrogen and can helps protect against colon, ovarian, cervical, breast and prostate cancers because of its cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
- Weight Loss: Arugula is an amazing superfood for weight loss. It has only five calories per cup and its extremely nutrient dense. I will advise you consider adding it in your next juice fast because it doesn’t just stop at helping you lose weight, but also provides your body with needed nutrients.
- Good Vision: A friend of mine told me that her Optometrists told her to take more of arugula, so as to correct her eye sight. This is due to the high content of carotenoid content found in this vegetable. Carotenoids also slows down the process of macular degeneration which occurs when a person’s area of vision becomes weak. Increasing your consumption of Arugula have also shown to slow down symptoms of aging.
- Pre-Natal Health: Arugula is highly recommended to expecting mothers because of its high folates content. When consumed regularly during conception and throughout the pregnancy period helps prevent neural tube defects in new-born child. Also folic acid have been shown to decrease occurrences in certain mental defects in new-borns.
- Immunity: Fresh Arugula contains high concentration of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help ward off free radicals and develop resistance against diseases and infections in the body. Arugula is also rich in copper which stimulate the body to create white blood cells. Arugula also strengthens and enhance the immune system through many other ways.
- Antioxidant: Antioxidants helps fight free radical damage in the body. Arugula is richly blessed with antioxidants and can greatly increase the ORAC value in a person. If you really want to beef up your immune system Arugula is the vegetable to juice, that’s part of the reasons I include it in most of my green juice. It will help build up your immune system against illness like common cold and other serious aliments like premature aging, heart disease and cancer.
- Helps Prevents Diabetes: Although most people will frown at the thought of eating arugula seeds but it will surprise you that clinical research confirms that arugula seed or oil derived from the seeds is an effective prevention and treatment method for improving insulin response, reducing hyperglycemia and lowering high cholesterol and triglyceride, while also regulating blood sugar.
- Mineral Absorption: Most vegetables are high in oxalates which can hinder the absorption of minerals into the body. But Arugula is quite different – in that it is low in oxalates. Oxalates inhibits the absorption of minerals by the body system. This makes minerals like iron and copper which is present in the vegetable easily absorbed by the body for efficient use.
- Improve Digestion: If you can get pass the bitter taste of arugula, then you are not far away from improving your digestion. More especially for individuals suffering from chronic indigestion due to low stomach acid. Some research has shown that eating a few leaves 15 minutes before meal can greatly help improve bile production that aids digestion.
With Arugula you need to take note that the older leaves are the once used mostly in cooking while the young leaves are mostly used in preparing salad. It goes well with other vegetable when juiced or blended into a smoothie. To prepare green salad, mix fresh arugula, radicchio and parsley in a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and some lime juice for additional flavour. To make pasta mix arugula and line in a bowl. Then season with salt and pepper. Cook and drain the pasta and add the arugula mix, olive oil and cheese.