Arugula, also known as salad or garden rocket, is one of the nutritious green leafy vegetables of Mediterranean origin. It is a small, low-growing annual herb. The greens feature dandelion-like succulent, elongated, lobular leaves with prominent green veins (midrib).
Some of the common names of this garden rocket are rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette, etc.
|Arugula. Note for tender deep-green leaves. As the plant grows further, 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.
|Note for rocket flowers.
Photo courtesy: net_efekt
Younger rocket leaves feature a light green complexion and appear identical to that of spinach without lobulation. Additionally, young, tender leaves are less peppery and sweet in contrast to the sharp, spicy flavor of mature greens.
Eruca vesicaria, a closely related species of E. sativa, is native to the Iberia and mountainous northwest African regions. Its leaves are more deeply lobulated than the Mediterranean garden rocket./p>
Arugula flowers, fruit pods, and seeds are also a delicacy.
As in other greens, arugula also is one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 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 the ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of antioxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.
Being a member of the Brassica family, arugula greens are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter the carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers by their cancer-cell growth inhibition, and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
Further, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid-soluble metabolite of indole, has the 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 the 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.
Likewise 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 humans protect themselves from skin, lung, and oral cavity cancers.
This vegetable is also an excellent source of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid which are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.
Fresh rocket leaves contain healthy 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 a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotropic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate amounts of dietary vitamin K levels help to limit neuronal damage in the brain. It thus has an established role in the treatment of patients who have Alzheimer's disease.
Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. Also, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.66 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.6 g||4%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.437 mg||8%|
|Vitamin C||15 mg||25%|
|Vitamin A||2373 IU||79%|
|Vitamin E||0.43 mg||3%|
|Vitamin K||108.6 µg||90%|
Fresh arugula can be available in the markets year-round. While buying, look for crispy green, young leaves. Avoid flowered harvest, as its leaves are tough and bitter in taste. Discard any bruised, slumped, yellow leaves and stems before cooking.
Field-grown arugula is often sold in the local farmer markets with its root attached. Cut open the bushel and trim away thick stems. Discard yellow, wilted, bruised leaves. Place the leaves in a large bowl of cold water and swish as you do it in the case of other greens like spinach to remove sand, soil, dirt, etc. Then drain the water, and gently pat dry using moisture-absorbent cloth before use in cooking.
Here are some serving tips:
Photo courtesy: ralphandjenny
Young tender rocket leaves are an excellent addition to salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
Fresh greens can be used in soups, stews, juiced, and added to cooking as a leafy-green vegetable.
Prepare Italian-style arugula pasta with added goat cheese.
Enjoy garlic toasts dipped in leek-arugula vichyssoise.
Salad rocket (arugula) is a relatively low oxalate content leafy-greens than spinach, purslane, mustard greens, celery, etc. The greens can be safely used during pregnancy and lactation. (Medical disclaimer).
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Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.