What are the health benefits of arugula? This vegetable is an immune-boosting vegetable that packs a nutritional punch, especially considering its tiny number of calories. Like other leafy greens, arugula salad is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, especially when you add other vegetables to the mix.
When it comes to your health, as a high-antioxidant food arugula can help improve almost every system in the body. For example, studies have tied compounds found in it to improved heart health and lowered inflammation, thanks to its phytonutrients that reduce oxidative stress.
Arugula, which is called rocket or roquette in Europe and Australia, provides generous portions of vital nutrients — such as vitamin K, vitamin A and folate. In addition, it is a good source of eye-healthy beta-carotene in the form of carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.
Eating a healthy diet filled with cruciferous/brassica vegetables, sometimes called “carcinogen killers,” is a key dietary recommendation for cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. The arugula plant, like many other vegetables in the cruciferous family, contains glucosinolates. These are key phytonutrients believed to act against cancer cells. When you chew this leafy green, these compounds mix with a digestive enzyme called myrosinase that turns them into other cancer-fighting nutrients known as isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activities. This makes arugula a great addition to a healing diet since it may help prevent against age-related diseases. Arugula contains large quantities of specific sulfur-containing isothiocyanates, like sulforaphane and erucin, the same phytonutrients found in veggies like kohlrabi and Chinese cabbage. These are what give most cruciferous vegetables their signature sulfur smell. They are also believed to be responsible for their cancer-fighting activity. Many studies find a strong relationship between higher consumption of raw vegetables containing these special compounds and a lowered risk for cancer.
Arugula may help prevent macular degeneration because it’s high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, leutin and zeaxanthin. These are known to protect the retina, cornea and other delicate parts of the eyes from UV damage and other effects.
Arugula is capable of improving the health of blood vessels by acting as an anti-inflammatory food that lowers levels of cholesterol and homocysteine. This is one reason why cruciferous vegetable intake is known to lower the risk for heart disease and overall mortality. A diet high in low-calorie, high-nutrient vegetables is also linked with better blood pressure, improved circulation, and a lower risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Vegetables provide not only important inflammation-lowering antioxidants, but also crucial nutrients like potassium and magnesium that help control heart rhythms and dietary fiber. This removes cholesterol and toxins from the body.
One cup of arugula provides about over a quarter of the recommended daily value of vitamin K. This makes it a great food for prevention of vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K is essential for bone health and also for helping with blood clot formation.
Like other leafy greens, arugula is an alkaline food that helps restore the body’s optimal pH level. An optimal pH level is crucial for digestive health in addition to a supporting a strong immune system. Additionally, arugula is a hydrating food that helps nourish the digestive tract. Regularly eating leafy greens is one way to help prevent constipation and improve the health of the gut lining, colon, intestines and other digestive organs.
With so many health benefits stemming from the one leafy green, it’s hard to imagine a diet without arugula!