Arugula, known as rocket in the UK, is one of my favourite salad leaves. I love its peppery taste and vibrant green colour, but what about arugula’s health benefits? Does it just taste more interesting than iceberg lettuce or is it also better for you?
Ancient Romans and Egyptians believed that Rocket leaves were an aphrodisiac and recommended them for virility. Modern science does not inform us about this important topic, but it appears that arugula is, in fact, very rich in nutrients. It has about 8x the calcium, 5x vitamins A, C, and K, and 4x iron than iceberg lettuce. Who said that you had sacrifice flavour to eat healthily.
Arugula Nutritional Information
100 g of the salad leaves contains the following vitamins and minerals as a percentage of daily recommended amounts:
vitamin K: 90%
vitamin A: 50%
vitamin C: 20%
In addition arugula contains less oxalate, which inhibits the absorption of calcium then spinach and many other salad leaves. This means that a combination of arugula with goat cheese or parmesan shavings, both favourites of mine, will deliver more osteoporosis-preventing calcium to you, then the cheese combined with other leafy greens.
Phytochemicals in Arugula for Disease Prevention
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals which give the plants their colour or smell. There has been a lot of speculation about their anti-cancer and disease prevention properties and they are the subject of intense scientific study. Although there is not enough evidence at the moment, for the FDA to establish them as essential nutrients, there is anecdotal evidence that many of them are biologically active.
Arugula’s health benefits may be enhanced by the fact that it is rich in beta-carotene and the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, which may promote eye health and protect against macular degeneration and glucosinolates which may improve the function of the body’s immune system.
In short this pretty green leaf will add colour and interest to your meal and will significantly improve its nutritional value. Try it in a simple salad with goat or mozaralle cheese, walnuts and a good olive oil.