Arugula: The New Spinach

Move over spinach! Arugula may have just as many (if not more) health benefits.

Pleasantly peppery with a subtle crunch, arugula is all too often left on the shelf at dinnertime. It’s a real shame. This exceptionally flavorful plant has so much more to offer than serving as a humble green salad. Arugula has many health benefits including helping with weight loss and preventing cancer.

Picking healthy arugula from a garden.

While most of us know ‘Eruca sativa’ for its fantastic taste, we’d all do well to recognize that arugula is brimming with enough essential nutrients to give spinach a run for its money. Oh yes, arugula is very good for you. Let’s take a look at the health benefits of arugula and everything it has to offer.

The Many Health Benefits of Arugula

What is arugula, you ask? The leafy green hails from the Mediterranean where it has been cultivated since the days of the Roman Empire. Even into the present, this salad green remains a staple part of the Mediterranean diet. In part thanks to its distinctive taste, in part thanks to its nutritional benefits, arugula has been successfully exported around the world and is readily available at virtually every supermarket in the US.

We all know the importance of eating several helpings of greens throughout the week. While this innocuous plant may not look like much, arugula is loaded with a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Like its cousin kale, the nutritional value of arugula makes it an especially healthy green. You’ll find that arugula has vitamins B, C, K, and A, bone-strengthening calcium, and potassium.

Potassium is an electrolyte. Electrolytes are crucial for several a range of important functions in the body. In the case of potassium, this includes regulating the balance of fluids, sending nerve signals throughout the body, and keeping muscle contractions regular, right down to your heartbeat. It may even help with reducing blood pressure – a real boon if you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) and are looking for ways to control it through your diet.

For those watching their waistlines, you’ll be happy to learn that like other popular greens, arugula is low in calories. A one cup serving of arugula clocks in at a mere five calories. With the calories in arugula coming in so low, you’ll definitely want to stock up on it the next time you hit the farmers’ market.

Arugula May Help Prevent Cancer

Arugula belongs to the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale are widely recognized for their health benefits, from potentially lowering the risk of certain cancers to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Arugula and other leafy greens with health benefits.

Arugula is no exception. Over the past ten years, several studies have been conducted looking into the health benefits of arugula and it’s potential preventative properties. These studies focused in on erucin, a naturally occurring phytochemical found in arugula. The results are promising. Studies have found that erucin may inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. With these sort of preliminary results, who wouldn’t want to add a helping of arugula to their dinner plate?

What Does Arugula Taste Like?

Arugula is famous for its peppery taste but there’s more to it than that. The leaves are also a little bit nutty, with baby arugula having an almost sweet taste. Like many other leafy greens, arugula has a touch of bitterness to it which becomes increasingly pronounced the more mature the plant is.

How to Add Arugula to Your Diet

Reaping the benefits of adding arugula to your diet couldn’t be simpler. You’ll find it at your local market or for those of you who have a green thumb (and even those who don’t), arugula is easy to grow. It’s delicious enjoyed raw, but you can cook arugula as well. Try scattering leaves into your favorite hot dishes and see how much they improve.

Health benefits of arugula on pizza.

Here are some of our top ways to get a little more arugula in our lives.

  • Take a cue from the Italians and sprinkle fresh arugula over a pizza. For best results, wait until after you’ve taken your pie out of the oven. The slight crunch of the arugula acts as a lovely textural counterpoint to the soft chewiness of a slice.
  • Don’t stop at pizza. Arugula is wonderful over pasta as well. Again, you can treat it as a garnish or you can chop arugula into sauces or wilt it and mix it in. We recommend arugula blended into a pesto sauce, added to a pasta primavera, or used instead of spinach in a veggie lasagna.
  • With its incomparable peppery flavor, arugula is a popular green for salads.
  • Substitute arugula for lettuce on your favorite sandwiches and wraps. Try a falafel and hummus wrap with a generous helping of arugula.
  • Because it has such a unique, strong flavor compared with other greens, you can treat arugula as an herb, swapping it for basil, thyme, or sage to change the flavors in your dish.
  • Create the ultimate power-packed breakfast by adding chopped arugula and spinach to your morning eggs and whole wheat toast.

On top of all its many health benefits, arugula is delicious, inexpensive, and doesn’t require large chunks of extra time spent in the kitchen to prepare. Arugula is good for getting greens in your meals with little hassle, adding a fantastic pop of flavor to dishes, and helping you to maintain a well-balanced diet thanks to its vitamin content and low calorie count. Considering its incredible nutrient content and potential to help lower your risk of certain diseases, we can all agree that arugula deserves a spot of honor on our dinner plates.

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