What Is Arugula Good For?

The Arugula Advantage
Botanical name: Eruca sativa

Arugula Nutrition Facts

If you ever see a salad green referred to as “rocket,” it’s simply another name for arugula, or roquette in French.1

A type of Brassicaceae along with kale and cauliflower,2 arugula’s delightfully pungent leaves have been cultivated in Europe and the Mediterranean since time was recorded.3 As such, arugula is a perennial favorite in Italian cooking.

Unremarkable in appearance, arugula is often added to mesclun mixes, where it adds a delicious zest. While the young, paler leaves have a mild flavor — good for fresh dishes like salad and pesto — the older, darker leaves have a bit of pepper to them,4 making them stand out in soups and pizza toppings.

Health Benefits of Arugula

Arugula derives a lot of nutritional value from its cruciferous family roots, such as antioxidant benefits from glucosinolates and detoxifying power from enzymes. It’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C (to boost the immune system) and K (for bone strength), folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.5

Arugula also provides high levels of protein, riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, vitamin B6, copper and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).6 Its flavonoid content has multiple benefits: to lower inflammation,7 prevent cholesterol from sticking to arteries,8 manage high blood pressure levels,9 increase blood flow and improve blood vessel function.10

health benefits of arugula

Arugula Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 25  
Calories from Fat 6  
Total Fat 1 g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.1 g 0 g
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 27 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 4 g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g 6%
Sugar 2.1 g  
Protein 2.6 g  
Vitamin A 47% Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 16% Iron 8%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Studies Done on Arugula

A research team11 studying the natural health benefits of arugula discovered that it could be associated with fighting gastrointestinal ulcers, possibly through the many antioxidants it contains.12 Other studies have linked cruciferous vegetables like arugula to have a protective effect against lung, colorectal and other cancers.13

The Global Healing Center lists arugula as one of the leafy green vegetables that contain cleansing properties to counteract the poisoning effects of heavy metals in the system, particularly in the liver. It’s also noted that this cruciferous vegetable may have the ability to eradicate pesticides and herbicides from the body.14,15

How to Buy and Store Arugula

According to the book "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," the best arugula is fresh and crisp, particularly at the stem. Look for plants that have dark green leaves, not yellow. Refrain from buying arugula with leaves that are wilted, have dark or slimy spots, or yellow or brown edges.

After buying, keep arugula in a cool and moist area. Wrap the roots in a damp paper towel, then place the entire plant in a plastic bag. This will keep it fresh for a day or two.

You can also store it as you would a bouquet of flowers: placed upright in a glass of water. Afterward, cover the leaves with a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator. Do not store arugula beside pears, apples or bananas, as this will cause its leaves to decay faster.16

Tips for Growing Arugula at Home

Arugula is a cool-weathered crop, making it ideal for planting during fall. It's easy to maintain, but it thrives best when planted in humus-rich soil that has a pH between 6 and 6.8.

The seeds germinate best when the temperature is between 40 and 55 degrees F. Plant them directly in the garden bed, but not in a spot where you have recently harvested another crop from the cabbage family. Arugula grows well when planted beside peas and lettuce.

When planting, position the seeds at least 1 inch apart, and one-fourth inch deep into the soil. Keep rows at least 3 inches apart. After 10 to 14 days, you will see seedlings sprouting.17 For more helpful tips on growing arugula, read my article "How to Grow and Enjoy Arugula."

Arugula Healthy Recipes:
Arugula, Asparagus and Olive Salad With Toasted Pine Nuts

Arugula Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

3 bunches arugula or spinach

2 1/2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup kalamata olives (or any other Greek olive)

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

 

Procedures:

  1. Quickly blanch the asparagus and set aside. Remove seeds from the olives by cutting down the center lengthwise. Combine the arugula, asparagus and olives in a bowl.
  2. Roast the pine nuts in a shallow pan at 325 degrees F until brown. Whisk the dressing together, pour over salad and top with pine nuts.

This recipe makes two to four servings.
(From M&R Farms18)

Grapefruit and Arugula Salad With Avocado Recipe

Ingredients

5 ounces baby arugula

2 grapefruits, peeled and sectioned

1 avocado, sliced

Dressing:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon grated grapefruit zest

1/2 teaspoon Dr. Mercola's Himalayan salt

 

 

Procedures:

  1. Grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the grapefruit, reserving for the salad dressing.
  2. Peel the grapefruit by cutting off each end then working your knife around the perimeter. This method removes the membrane from all outside edges.
  3. Hold the peeled grapefruit in one hand over a bowl. Use a paring knife and in a sawing motion, cut each segment from the membrane on both sides. Let the juice drip into the bowl and place segments in another bowl.
  4. When all segments have been removed from both grapefruit halves, squeeze the remaining juice from the membranes and reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice for the dressing.
  5. To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients except the oil in a bowl. Whisk to combine then slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly until fully emulsified. Set aside.
  6. To prepare the salad, place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Toss with about half the dressing. Divide the greens among salad plates; top with grapefruit segments and sliced avocado. Drizzle with the remaining dressing.

This recipe makes two to four servings
(From "Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type")

Arugula Fun Facts

Ancient Roman and Egyptians during the first century A.D. considered arugula to be a powerful aphrodisiac. The leafy green was consecrated to the fertility god Priapus, who also guarded gardens and domestic animals. 19

Summary

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that’s loaded with nutritional benefits for nearly every area of the body, from the brain to the liver, as well as the skin and blood vessels. A zesty addition to any salad, it’s also great in other recipes, such as pizza, pesto and soup.