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Arugula nutrition facts

Arugula, also known as salad or garden rocket, is one of the nutritious green-leafy vegetable of Mediterranean origin. It is a small, low growing annual herb featuring dandelion like succulent, elongated, lobular leaves with green-veins.

It belongs within the Brassicaceae family similar to as mustard greens, cauliflower, kale…,etc., and has the scientific name: Eruca sativa.

Some of common names of garden rocket are rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette, etc.

arugula-rocket salad
Arugula. Note for young tender deep green leaves. As the plant grows in maturity, its leaves turn lobular as in dandelion.
(Photo courtesy: vicWJ)

Salad rocket (arugula) is a quick growing, cool season crop. It prefers well-drained, fertile soil, and full sunlight to flourish. In general, arugula grows to about 2-3 feet in height with creamy-white edible flowers. Its leaves can be ready for harvest within 40 days of sowing the seed.

salad rocket
Note for rocket flowers.
Photo courtesy: net_efekt

Younger rocket leaves feature light green color, and appear identical to that of spinach without lobulation. Additonally, young, tender leaves are less peppery and sweet in contrast to strong, spicy flavor of mature greens.

Eruca vesicaria is a closely related species of E. sativa, native to the Iberia and mountainous north-west African regions. Its leaves are deeply lobulated than the Mediterranean garden rocket./p>

Arugula flowers, pods and seeds are also edible.

Health benefits of Arugula

  • As in other greens, arugula too is one of very low calorie vegetable. 100 g of fresh leaves hold just 25 calories. Nonetheless, it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may immensely benefit health.

  • Salad rocket has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.

  • Being a member of Brassica family, arugula leaves are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and iso­thiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

  • Further, di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble metabolite of indole has immune modulator, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase-III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.

  • Fresh salad rocket is one of greens rich in folates. 100 g of fresh greens contain 97 µg or 24% of folic acid. When given to the anticipant mothers during their conception time, folate may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.

  • Like as in kale, salad rocket is an excellent source of vitamin A. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1424 µg of beta-carotene, and 2373 IU of vitamin A. Carotenes convert into vitamin A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help protect from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • This vegetable also an excellent sources of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.

  • Fresh rocket leaves contain good levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

  • Salad rocket is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. In addition, adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain and thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

  • Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. In addition, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Selection and storage

Fresh arugula can be available in the markets all around the year. While buying, look for crispy green color young leaves. Avoid flowered harvest, as its leaves are tough and bitter in taste. Discard any bruised, slump leaves and stems before storage.

Store the herb as you do for other greens like spinach, purslane, kale…etc. Place it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator set at high relative humidity.

Preparation and serving methods

Field grown arugula is often sold in the local markets with its root attached. Cut open the bushel and trim thick stems. Discard yellow, wilted, bruised leaves. Place the leaves in a large bowl of cold water and swish thoroughly as you do it in case of other greens like spinach in order to remove sand, soil, dirt…etc. Then drain the water, gently pat dry using moisture absorbent cloth before use in cooking.

Here are some serving tips:

rocket salad
Rocket salald.
Photo courtesy: ralphandjenny
  • Young tender rocket leaves are a great addition to salads, in sandwiches, and burgers.

  • Fresh greens can be used in soups, stews, juices, and cooked as a vegetable.

  • Prepare Italian style arugula pasta with added goat cheese.
  • Enjoy garlic toasts dipped in leek-arugula vichyssoise.

Safety profile

Salad rocket (arugula) is relatively low in oxalate content than that in spinach, purslane, mustard greens, celery, etc. The greens can be safely used during pregnancy and lactation. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further Reading:

1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.

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