Arugula is a flavourful, oak-shaped leaf with a peppery taste. Known as rocket in some parts of the world, arugula adds a powerful health boost to any menu choice. Easily grown at home, this leafy green contains about 5 calories per cup meaning it would take 20 cups of arugula to get the same calories in just a ¼ cup of granola.
The fibre in arugula helps promote digestive regularity, keeps your tummy happy and leaves you feeling full longer so you resist other fatty foods. It also helps to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. (1)
Here are five more reasons to add rocket to your meals:
1. Arugula is a detoxifying, cancer-fighting superfood: Arugula is a member of the brassica family of vegetables called cruciferous – this group is known for its nutritional powerhouses broccoli, kale and cabbage. This family of vegetables is high in fibre and antioxidants, but they’re also rich in compounds known as glucosinolates (2), which studies show may reduce the risk of developing lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. (3)
2. Arugula has high levels of chlorophyll: Chlorophyll can help to prevent DNA and liver damage from aflatoxins (4) - carcinogenic substances (5) produced by the mold sometimes found in corn, peanuts and some tree nuts. To preserve the chlorophyll in arugula – eat it raw. It tastes great in a salad!
3. Arugula promotes bone health: It contains eight times more calcium than iceberg lettuce as well as vitamin K (6), which is important for the absorption of calcium into the bones and teeth. Vitamin K also plays a role in the prevention of heart disease. (7) Plaque that forms inside the linings of the arteries can be partly related to calcium that is not taken up by the bones and teeth. This important vitamin can also help to keep this calcium going to the bones where it belongs!
4. Eating arugula will help to reduce chronic inflammation: Arugula contains indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates. Both of these bioactive compounds have been shown to suppress the production of inflammatory mediators. (8)
5. Eating arugula can protect the aging brain and cognitive decline: Arugula is high in most of the B vitamins but contains especially high amounts of folate. In high functioning older adults, low levels of folate have been shown to be a risk factor for cognitive decline. (9)
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1. Estruch R1, Martínez-González MA, Corella D, Basora-Gallisá J, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Covas MI, Fiol M, Gómez-Gracia E, López-Sabater MC, Escoda R, Pena MA, Diez-Espino J, Lahoz C, Lapetra J, Sáez G, Ros E; PREDIMED Study Investigators.: “Effects of dietary fibre intake on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in subjects at high risk.” J Epidemiol Community Health. 2009 Jul;63(7):582-8. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.082214. Epub 2009 Mar 15.
2. Hayes JD1, Kelleher MO, Eggleston IM: “The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates.” Eur J Nutr. 2008 May;47 Suppl 2:73-88. doi: 10.1007/s00394-008-2009-8.
3. Abdull Razis AF1, Iori R, Ioannides C.: “The natural chemopreventive phytochemical R-sulforaphane is a far more potent inducer of the carcinogen-detoxifying enzyme systems in rat liver and lung than the S-isomer.” Int J Cancer. 2011 Jun 15;128(12):2775-82. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25620. Epub 2010 Nov 9.
4. Dashwood R1, Negishi T, Hayatsu H, Breinholt V, Hendricks J, Bailey G.: “Chemopreventive properties of chlorophylls towards aflatoxin B1: a review of the antimutagenicity and anticarcinogenicity data in rainbow trout.” Mutat Res. 1998 Mar 20;399(2):245-53.
5. Wang JS1, Groopman JD.”DNA damage by mycotoxins.” Mutat Res. 1999 Mar 8;424(1-2):167-81.
6. Booth SL1, Broe KE, Gagnon DR, Tucker KL, Hannan MT, McLean RR, Dawson-Hughes B, Wilson PW, Cupples LA, Kiel DP.: “Vitamin K intake and bone mineral density in women and men.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):512-6.
7. Schurgers LJ1, Dissel PE, Spronk HM, Soute BA, Dhore CR, Cleutjens JP, Vermeer C.: “Role of vitamin K and vitamin K-dependent proteins in vascular calcification.” Z Kardiol. 2001;90 Suppl 3:57-63.
8. Tsai JT1, Liu HC, Chen YH.: “Suppression of inflammatory mediators by cruciferous vegetable-derived indole-3-carbinol and phenylethyl isothiocyanate in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages.” Mediators Inflamm. 2010;2010:293642. doi: 10.1155/2010/293642. Epub 2010 Apr 13.
9. Kado DM1, Karlamangla AS, Huang MH, Troen A, Rowe JW, Selhub J, Seeman TE.: "Homocysteine versus the vitamins folate, B6, and B12 as predictors of cognitive function and decline in older high-functioning adults: MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging.” Am J Med. 2005 Feb;118(2):161-7.