Lettuce is generally the popular choice to fill salad bowls, but its distant cousin is starting to become the comeback kid. Arugula is a cruciferous vegetables and widely-cultivated similar to its relatives - cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy. As a whole, cruciferous veggies are a power team, loaded with extensive nutrients and fiber. But how does arugula stand out in the crowd?
Nutrition Facts of Arugula
Below depicts a general nutritional profile of arugula - the serving size of 40 grams, or approximately two cups, is a common salad portion. And though the black and white numbers may seem miniscule, the whole painted picture of arugula is far from colorless.
*Adapted from the USDA National Nutrient Database
In addition to the nutrients displayed above, arugula also further contains essential vitamins and minerals. One serving size, 40 grams or two cups, of arugula provides the following daily needs: over 50 percent of vitamin K, 20 percent of vitamin A, and about 8 percent of vitamin C, folate, and calcium.
6 Amazing Arugula Health Benefits
1. Weight Loss and Maintenance
Correlated with all salad greens, arugula itself is also low in calorie (as noticed in the nutrition facts label). Low-calorie foods can naturally keep energy balance in check and promote weight loss and maintenance. Though arugula provides 10 calories per two cups, stay weary on salad add-ons that can sky-rocket unnecessary calories.
2. Heart Health
Though a healthy diet and weight can reduce the risk of heart disease, arugula also contains nitrates. Nitrates and nitrites are generally misperceived and immediately thought to lead to cancer. Though high cooking temperatures may create a harmful carcinogenic compound from nitrites (known as nitrosamine), naturally containing nitrate in veggies seems to be quite beneficial. Nitrates can turn into a short-lived gas within the body, signaling a relaxed response for blood vessels. The vasodilation, or relaxation, can ultimately reduce blood pressure.
3. Cancer Prevention
The bold greenness of the leaves offers phytonutrients, plant-occurring compounds that ultimately provide color to the plant. Specifically, sulforaphane is the phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables. Studies have shown consuming cruciferous veggies reduces the incidences of cancer - including the prevention of breast, bladder, and prostrate cancer. The phytochemical has shown to reduce the frequency, size, and number of tumors.
4. Blood Clotting
Two cups of arugula provide, on average, 50 percent of daily vitamin K needs. Vitamin K has a critical role in blood blotting. Individuals with low levels of prothrombin, a blood protein needed for appropriate blood clotting, are often treated with vitamin K. It is also effective to counteract blood thinning medications when high doses are given.
5. Bone Strengthening
Though vitamin K is known for its well-established role in blood clotting, it also plays a significant role in bone health. Research is becoming clearer that vitamin K can increase bone mineral density and reduce bone fracture rates. Rising evidence further suggests vitamin K may have a positive affect calcium balance. As noted in the nutrition facts above, arugula also contains calcium, the known contributor to good bone health.
6. Eye Health
As mentioned above, two cups of arugula contain one-fifth of daily vitamin A needs. Vitamin A is widely known for its key role in eye health. Specifically, vitamin A helps to protect the eye's surface and needed to form a beneficial protein within the eye, also known as rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is activated with dimness and allows eyes to adjust to dark.
Convinced to swap out those standard lettuce leaves? We have you covered. Click to see this extensive list of unique arugula salad recipes!
Ware M. Arugula: Health Benefits, Facts, Research. Medical News Today. Available at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282769.php.
Weber P. Vitamin K and Bone Health. PubMed. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684396.