Seasonal Produce Spotlight: The Health Benefits of Arugula

Nutrition Information, How Much It Costs and How to Eat It.

If you’re a big Mediterranean food eater, then you’re probably very familiar with Arugula. If not, you may have seen it on a menu, in the grocery store or at the farmers’ market and wondered what this leafy green is all about. For those who haven’t had a chance to try it yet, prepare for a taste that’s distinctive and familiar all at the same time. As a vegetable that deserves its time in the spotlight, we’re looking at the health benefits of Arugula, how much it costs and my favorite ways to eat it. 

What is Arugula?

Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable which is also known as salad or garden rocket1.As a member of the Brassica family, its cousins include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels Sprouts. You can find Arugula in the in the spring and early summer, before it gets too hot, and in the fall, before it gets too cold1. While it has the familiar taste and texture of a leafy green, it also has a very distinctive spicy and peppery taste that gets stronger the more mature the leaves are. If you want a milder taste, be sure and find a supplier that harvests them when they’re young. I know the vendors at my farmers’ market will usually let customers know if a batch is older and will have more of a kick. 

Nutrients in Arugula

In addition to being full of flavor, Arugula is also packed with nutrients. These include high amounts of calcium, Vitamin C, and potassium. 

Health Benefits of Arugula

As with any of the leafy greens and other cruciferous vegetables, Arugula is a low-calorie, low-carb food that is high in health benefits. Among those are the fact that it contains high amounts of folic acid, which can help prevent neural tube defects in newborns1. Arugula and other cruciferous vegetables are also associated with reducing the risk for various types of cancer3. That’s because they have high concentrations of isothiocyanates4. These molecules come from compounds in cruciferous vegetables and, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, help to get rid of carcinogens from the body5. The fact that Arugula is also high in Vitamin C means that it’s good for immune function as well as being helpful in preventing or delaying the development of cardiovascular and other diseases caused by oxidative stress6.  

How to Buy, Store and Eat Arugula

When buying Arugula, you’ll want to make sure that the leaves are crisp and fresh. You do not want to eat wilted Arugula! Store it by washing and drying the leaves and then putting it between paper towels. Put the paper towels and Arugula in a baggie and seal it shut. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to lose its nutrients during storage7, but as with any greens, it’s better to use it within 3-5 days. 

I have several favorite ways of eating Arugula. They include:

  1. Wrap
  2. Salad
  3. Omelet
  4. Pizza

Basically, if you want to add a bolder taste to any of these, add Arugula. If you want to temper the taste a bit, cook it. Cooked Arugula isn’t quite as strong. 

The Cost of Arugula

The cost of Arugula is about the same as it is for any other greens. I generally pay about $4 for a bag that contains just over three cups. If you want to make it go farther, mix it in with a spring mix to spice up the flavor and add as much nutritional value as possible.

Bottom Line on the Health Benefits of Arugula

The bottom line on the health benefits of Arugula is that this is one leafy green that’s definitely worth experimenting with. The health benefits are numerous, and the taste is anything but bland. 

Have you tried Arugula? If so, let us know in the comments below what your favorite way to eat it is. 

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