Arugula health benefits include protects your heart, could help control weight, improves eye health, reduces cancer risk, helps with digestion, helps control blood pressure, helps prevent diabetes, delivers vitamin K and calcium for healthy bones, good for your skin, may add years to your life, enhance athletic performance, acts as a great detoxifier, helps reduce inflammation in the body, and may improve cognitive function. Once exotic, now mainstream Arugula adds a peppery dimension to salads, soups, pizza or omelet.
Native to Mediterranean area, this green leafy vegetable (Arugula) is also known as salad rocket, garden rocket, roquette, or colewort. Botanically, it belongs to Eruca genus in the family Brassicaceae. Along with its dark green leaves, the seeds, seed oil, and flowers are also edible.
Nutritionally, this peppery green is a star. In a whole cup (100g) of fresh arugula leaves, you’ll find just 25 calories, 3.65 grams of carbohydrates, and about 2.5 grams of protein, and 1.6 grams of dietary fiber. Arugula also contains an impressive amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate. Talking about minerals, you’ll get plenty of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and iron from Arugula.
If its peppery punch and nutrient profile aren’t enough to send you to the grocery store, perhaps these amazing health benefits will.
15 Health Benefits of Arugula
1. It Protects Your Heart
Arugula contains a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate – the heart-friendly nutrients. A two-month trial suggests that subjects who received a daily Vitamin C supplement showed a 24% drop in their plasma CRP (C-reactive protein levels) levels. Scientists believe that CRP may be an accurate indicator of a person’s chances of developing heart diseases.
Vitamin K, in turn, boosts heart health by pushing calcium into the bones, instead of flushing it into your arteries and block circulation. Folate is essential for maintaining homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels in the blood can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
2. Arugula Could Help Control Weight
People who eat a lot of Arugulas are more likely to keep their weight in check and less likely to gain more. Wondering how? It’s because arugula is a low-calorie vegetable – it only has about 25 calories/ 100 g. In fact, this dark green leaf ranks #8 in Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, or ANDI, a tool that ranks food by its calorie density.
Most importantly, it has a good amount of fiber and fewer carbohydrates (only 3.7 g) – so, you don’t need to worry about weight gaining. In short, you should regularly fill your salads and meals with this peppery plant.
3. Arugula Improves Eye Health
Beta-carotene – the precursor of Vitamin A – is good for your eyes as it scavenges free radicals to protect the retina. And that’s not the only peeper-protective nutrient in arugula; it also contains lutein and zeaxanthin as well. These two nutrients protect the eyes from high-intensity illumination and UV rays thereby avoiding vision impairments.
According to studies, all these nutrients support the vision and protect against age-related macular degeneration and night vision. Another important nutrient we shouldn’t neglect is Omega 3 fatty acids. Arugula contains 170 mg Omega-3s/ 100 g. Omega-3s act as an antioxidant and cut down the chances of developing a cataract.
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
The evidence is emerging that arugula may lower the risks of cancers. The buzz word here is glucosinolates a Sulphur containing the compound. When you consume arugula, glucosinolates get metabolized into indoles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. Research shows that indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) may inhibit cancer by either of these mechanisms.
- Inactivate carcinogenic chemicals and protect cellular DNA from damage
- Induce cell death in cancerous cells to prevent invasion
5. Good for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is that time wherein expecting mothers should eat more iron, folate, calcium, protein, vitamins A, B and C, magnesium, and zinc. All these nutrients can be found in a good dose in Arugula. In fact, Arugula contains about 97 micrograms of folate (24% of RDI). Having arugula during the early weeks of pregnancy is good for fetal development. Not just that, it could prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
Unlike other greens, arugula is relatively low in oxalate. So, it is safe for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
6. Helps With Digestion
The fluid and fiber content in arugula help if you’re prone to indigestion. According to the USDA, 100 g arugula contains 91.71 g fluid and 1.6 g fiber. High fiber content is also good for your gut lining, colon, intestines, and other digestive organs. Also, high fiber foods may reduce colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis risk.
Being alkaline, arugula restores the body’s optimal pH. Studies suggest that optimal pH is vital for our digestive system.
7. Helps Control Blood Pressure
The heart benefits of arugula don’t stop with reducing cholesterol, triglycerides, and diabetes. They also lower blood pressure – an important risk factor for heart disease. Arugula contains plenty of calcium and magnesium – the essential minerals that dilate blood vessels and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Also, it has a considerable amount of potassium that may help reduce the risk of hypertension.
8. Helps Prevent Diabetes
Arugula may be a protective food for people with diabetes, too: In one clinical study, scientists found that arugula seed oil can effectively decrease insulin level and hyperglycemia. They also found a significant reduction in total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides. It may be due to antioxidants in arugula seed oil or the overall increase in hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase levels. This is particularly important because diabetes increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Diet plays a crucial role in developing diabetes. Since arugula leaves contain less sugar and carbs, it is a great alternative to foods that increase diabetes risk.
9. Delivers Vitamin K and Calcium for Healthy Bones
Arugula is a good source of calcium. A cup of arugula (100g) has about 160 mg calcium. Adult men and women should eat 1,000 mg of calcium a day, according to the National Institutes of Health. And, this makes arugula a bone-friendly food.
Another nutrient that we need to mention here is Vitamin K, which promotes calcium reabsorption and regeneration of muscles and blood coagulation. A 100 g of arugula provides about 108.6 micrograms of Vitamin K. No wonder why the leaves are recommended for people recovering from bone injuries and osteoporosis patients.
10. It is Good for Your Skin
In folk medicine, arugula extract has a long-standing history of treating and preventing skin conditions like eczema, dry skin, and acne. Adding arugula leaves and seed oil into the diet can protect the skin from UV rays and its effects. This is because arugula is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
It is also said to boost cell resilience and elasticity. When consumed regularly, you can harness anti-aging benefits, too.
11. May Add Years to Your Life
Not only will greens help you live better, but they may also add a few more years to your life. Recent scientific studies have found that eating fiber-rich foods may reduce the mortality rate by 17 to 19 percent. With loads of longevity-boosting nutrients like omega-3s, antioxidants, Vitamin C, arugula is one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to boost longevity.
12. Enhances Athletic Performance
Along with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, arugula is a great source of nitrate that our body needs for easing oxygen flow from lugs to muscles. Research suggests that increased nitrate intake might facilitate peak performance during high endurance exercises. Plus, vitamin K in arugula is good for bone injuries or promoting cartilage growth. That’s why arugula is highly recommended for athletes.
Some scientists even believe that nitrate consumption may improve the lives of patients with cardiovascular disease or respiratory issues like asthma. Eat it as a salad or add to protein smoothies to reap all benefits.
13. Arugula is a Great Detoxifier
Thanks to vitamin C, chlorophyll, and antioxidants, arugula can help rid your body of toxins. Arugula is very high in chlorophyll and can help prevent cellular DNA damage and liver damage arising from aflatoxins, the carcinogen present in some tree nuts. In addition to this, it neutralizes heavy metals, harsh chemicals, and pesticides that enter your system via food.
Arugula nutrients also play a key role in regulating enzymes that scavenge free radicals. The result? illness-free healthy liver and body. The alkalizing and detoxifying effects of arugula also safeguard the body against cancer, aging, and heart disease.
14. Helps Reduce Inflammation in the Body
Arugula is an excellent anti-inflammatory vegetable. Arugula’s anti-inflammatory power comes from indole-3-carbinol and erucin (an isothiocyanate). Animal studies found erusin’s inhibitory action on cytokines and pro-inflammatory enzymes. By inhibiting inflammatory enzymes and mediators, it reduces aches and pains associated with inflammatory diseases.
Omega-3s in arugula also helps reduce pain signals sent to the brain.
15. Arugula May Improve Cognitive Function
Now, here’s one more reason to enjoy arugula smoothies! With age, our cognitive abilities begin to reduce and gradually they just vanish. Studies show that consuming 800 micrograms of folate regularly may slow down cognitive decline in the elderly. With 97 micrograms of folate per 100-gram serving, arugula can get this done quite easily.
How to reap all the perks of Arugula?
Arugula is available year-round. You can incorporate arugula into your diet in a number of forms—raw, cooked, pesto, or soup. Add fresh arugula to omelets, pizza, sandwiches or salads, and serve them sliced with some salt and pepper.
Arugula is perishable so, keep it cool and moist. It will be more flavorful if you use it immediately or at least within two days of harvest.