Arugula, Eruca sativa, is a green leafy vegetable native to the Mediterranean region but now cultivated in many parts of the world. It is also known as rocket, garden rocket, roquette, Italian cress, and eruca. It has been grown since the Roman times in the Mediterranean region where the vegetable was a popular aphrodisiac. It has long elongated dark green leaves that are lobed like oak leaves. These leaves have unique peppery flavor.
Arugula belongs to the Brassica family, the family of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turnip, and bok choy. The same with these vegetables, arugula has many health benefits which are briefly discussed below.
Arugula Nutritional Benefits
Studies show that cruciferous vegetables like arugula have anti-cancer properties. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that help in the detoxification of the body. They help remove carcinogens or cancer-causing agents in the body.
As a green vegetable, arugula contains chlorophyll, the pigment that makes it green. Chlorophyll has amazing health benefits including its ability to increase red blood cell production in the body. The pigment contains the compound used in the production of hemoglobin, the compound in the blood that carries oxygen to all cells of the body. Since chlorophyll increases red blood cell count, it help prevents anemia and brings large amounts of oxygen to our body making us more energetic.
Arugula also contains carotenoids like carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These are powerful antioxidants that help the body neutralize free radicals that can damage our body cells and cause cancer, macular degeneration, and other disorders.
Arugula is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It has vitamin A, C, and K, as well as folic acid and choline. Minerals found in the vegetable include calcium magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. We all know that vitamins and minerals are needed to make our body strong and healthy.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also found in arugula. These fatty acids are helpful in making our heart and cardiovascular system healthy. Arugula is an excellent alternative to fish products as dietary source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Arugula contains fibers which are coarse fibrous substances that aid in digestion. Studies show that fibers help in the prevention of many diseases in the digestive tract.
How to Use Arugula?
You can use arugula in many ways. You can put it in your hamburger or sandwich like lettuce. You can stir fry it with olive oil and garlic. You can add it to your favorite soups or stews. You can use it as topping to your homemade pizza. There are other ways on how to use arugula in cooking, just be creative and try to experiment.
The ideal way to use arugula is to make salad green. You can mix it with other green vegetables that can be eaten raw. Arugula salad with your favorite vinaigrette is a perfect lunch which is not only delicious but also very healthy.
Eating arugula raw (as salad) is better than eating it cooked. It is because many nutrients in arugula can be lost if it is cooked especially when overcooked.[ad#afterpost]