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Arugula Health Benefits, Nutrition

Arugula is an aromatic, spicy leaf commonly used as a salad green. It is also sometimes called rugula, rucola or roquette. It is usually mixed with other greens with milder flavors in green salads. Arugula is grown in the Mediterranean region and was also thought to be an aphrodisiac. Like most salad greens, arugula too is packed with important nutrients such as vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Arugula calorie content is quite low with just two calories in half a cup.

Arugula belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and is related to vegetables such as cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli. The younger leaves are not as pungent as the mature ones. The shape of arugula leaves is similar to those of dandelion greens or oak leaves. The leaves are extremely popular in French and Italian food and have also increased in popularity in the American diet. Arugula health benefits are many due to its high nutritional value. Baby arugula health benefits tend to be on the higher side and the leaves are also more tender and milder in flavor than the mature leaves. Here are some arugula nutrition facts.

Arugula nutritional value is high because it contains considerable amounts of vitamins and minerals. Arugula leaves provide the body with potassium, calcium, copper, manganese and iron. They also contain folic acid and the vitamins A, C and K. Arugula nutritional content may be attributed to the phytochemicals contained in it. Cruciferous vegetables are known to help in preventing various diseases. Regular consumption of these vegetables helps to prevent certain types of cancer.  Phytochemicals such as sulforaphanes and glucosinolates help to trigger the release of enzymes which have a cleansing effect on the body. By removing toxins from the body, they help to reduce the risk of disease. There are also antioxidants contained in arugula such as carotenes which help to protect the body from heart disease and sun damage. They also promote good health of the cells as they enhance communication between the bodily cells. Chlorophyll is also a part of arugula nutrition. This is a compound which helps to cleanse the blood and improve the supply of oxygen to various parts of the body. It also helps in maintaining good health of the skin. Many individuals use the oil from arugula for hair re-growth. Arugula oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant.

All salad greens have health benefits and should be included in the daily diet. But how does arugula compare with other salad greens in terms of health benefits. Here are some arugula salad nutrition facts;

  • Arugula leaves are known to contain eight times more calcium than iceberg lettuce. It also contains four times more iron and five times more vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
  • It is an established that fact cruciferous vegetables are helpful in providing protecting against cancers. Even though arugula is considered to be a salad green and provides all the benefits that salad greens do, it is also grouped into the cruciferous family. The glucosinolates in such vegetables help in improving immune function and hence aid in cancer prevention.
  • Arugula may not contain as much carotenoid as kale or sweet potatoes, but its levels of carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are helpful in reducing the risk of macular degeneration and certain forms of cancer.
  • Leafy greens such as spinach are rich in nutrients but also contain oxalate which can hamper the absorption of calcium. Therefore individuals who consume such vegetables may suffer from inadequate calcium absorption. Argula, on the other hand, has a lower content of oxalate than other leafy greens.

Arugula Calories

So just how many calories are there in arugula? There are 25 calories in arugula in each serving of 100 gm. In case of women, this accounts for 1.25 percent of the daily recommended allowance and in case of men, it accounts for 1 percent. There are 5 calories in 1 cup of arugula.

There are very few calories in raw arugula and most people think that the best way to consume vegetables is raw and plain. This is beneficial for health; however you can obtain more health benefits from certain vegetables such as arugula when you eat them in different ways. Eating cruciferous vegetables like arugula raw enables you to obtain the benefits of isothiocyanates, the plant compounds which help in preventing cancer. The enzymes that produce these compounds are less active when the leaves are cooked. Therefore eating raw arugula helps you get more nutritional benefits from the vegetable than eating it cooked. However cooked arugula also has certain advantages. The body is able to absorb more carotenoids and other nutrients when the arugula leaves are cooked gently. When serving arugula, it is advisable to add a small amount of vegetable oil or some other fat. This is because some studies indicate that the compounds present in arugula and other similar vegetables get absorbed more efficiently when cooked and consumed with a small quantity of fat.

Arugula can be served in a variety of ways. You can combine it with other greens of a milder flavor and toss with a simple vinegar dressing. You can also add cherry tomatoes or chopped walnuts. Most people prefer the gentler taste of baby arugula because the larger leaves of arugula can be quite pungent. Due to the low amount of calories in arugula salad, it serves as a perfect food for those on weight loss diets. If you want to serve arugula in its cooked form, you can sauté the leaves in some chopped garlic and olive oil. Ensure that you do not overcook the leaves to prevent any loss of nutrients. Add some salt to enhance the flavor of the dish and serve. Arugula may also be added to stews and soups. The baby leaves of arugula can ever serve as a stuffing for an omelet along with some grated cheese. You can even enhance the taste of sandwiches and pizzas by adding some arugula lettuce leaves.

Submitted on January 16, 2014