Arugula (scientific name: Eruca sativa) is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket salad, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort and roquette depending on what part of the world you are in. It is native to the Mediterranean region- from Morocco and Portugal in the west to Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey in the east- but is well-liked as a salad vegetable in many parts of the world.
A pungent, leafy green vegetable resembling a longer-leaved and open lettuce, Arugula is quite nutritious and has numerous health benefits. It grows to about 20-100 cm in height and in addition to the leaves, the flowers, young seed pods and mature seeds are also edible. It is a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables — the same group that includes vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale and Swiss chard.
The young leaves are often eaten raw and are a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K. They also have high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals and sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates which possess detoxifying properties and may be beneficial in the prevention of certain types of cancer.
If ancient Roman writings are to be believed, Arugula was used as a powerful aphrodisiac from the first century A.D., especially when coupled with other natural plants with similar libido-boosting qualities such as chicory, dill, lettuce, and lavender.
Storage: If you have bought Arugula along with the roots, you may wrap the roots in moist paper towels, place the entire thing in a plastic bag and then refrigerate. Alternatively, it can be placed upright in a glass of water (like we do with a bunch of flowers), covered with a plastic bag, and refrigerated.
If the roots have been removed, the best way to maintain arugula’s crispness is to rinse the leaves, spin them dry in a salad spinner and then store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag after forcing out all the air in it.
It may be noted that it should be stored away from apples, bananas and pears since these fruits give off ethylene gas as they ripen, which will cause the arugula leaves to develop brown spots and decay.
While buying Arugula, you should look out for those leaves that are vibrant green and avoid those leaves that are wilted, yellowing or slimy. In case of prepackaged arugula, check the bag for excess water, as moisture can rotten it.
Late spring, summer, and early fall are the seasons of this vegetable.
Arugula ranks among food with top 20 ANDI scores (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index). The ANDI ranks the nutrient value of many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. Unlike food labels which list only a few nutrients, ANDI scores are based on thirty-four important nutritional parameters. Have a look at the exhaustive list of ANDIs here https://www.drfuhrman.com/content-image.ashx?id=73gjzcgyvqi9qywfg7055r
One cup of raw arugula has about:
- 5 calories
- Less than 1 gram of protein, sugar, fat or carbs
- 1 gram fibre
- 22 milligrams vitamin K
- 475 milligrams vitamin A
- 19 milligrams folate
- 6 milligrams vitamin C
- 32 milligrams calcium
- 0.06 milligrams manganese
Not known to many, Arugula comes loaded with immense health benefits. Incorporating this great vegetable in your diet is likely to help you in the following ways.
- Prevents and fights cancer
- Protects and nourishes the eyes
- Assists in weight loss
- Effective for managing diabetes
- Fights bad breath and body odour
- Strengthens the bones
- Aids in the clotting of blood
- Good for the digestive system
- Improves cognitive function
- Controls inflammation
- Acts as an aphrodisiac
Arugula, like most leafy vegetables is rich in Oxalic acid and this acid has been linked to formation of kidney stones. People who are vulnerable to kidney stones formation should eat Arugula sparingly.
The pungent flavour of the leaves can cause mild irritation in the throat.
Some people may also experience tongue swelling, stomach cramping, and diarrhoea by over-eating Arugula in its raw form.
How to incorporate more arugula into your diet:
Arugula is most commonly consumed fresh in salads but can also be incorporated into pastas, casseroles, and sauces just like other leafy greens.
It tends to sauté faster than its tougher cousins kale and collard greens because of its tenderness and lends more flavour to a dish than spinach or Swiss chard.
In Italy, the herb is also used like basil or parsley, providing everything from a subtle background note to a refreshing jolt to the taste buds.
Here are some tips to try to incorporate more arugula into your daily routine:
- Add a handful of fresh arugula to an omelet or scramble.
- Throw a handful of arugula and blend into a fresh juice or smoothie.
- Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Eat as a side dish or top your baked potato.
- Add arugula to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread.
Or try these healthy and tasty recipes: