Arugula is in the brassica or cruciferous vegetable family and provides many of the same benefits as kale, broccoli, and cabbage. It ranks in the top 20 foods in regards to its Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score. This score simply means that it’s high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient content in relation to its low calories. This high nutrient, low calorie density gives us five reasons arugula is making a comeback.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman developed the ANDI score. Here’s his formula:
Health = Nutrients/Calories
Americans tend to eat foods that are high calories, but low in nutrients. This culture of eating has contributed to many lifestyle diseases today. 2 cups of arugula (40 grams) contains .3 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 50 percent of vitamin K, and 8 percent of vitamin C, folate and calcium daily needs with only 10 calories. Yes, you read that right—only 10 calories for 2 cups of power-packed nutrients. I’d call that nutrient-dense and a bigger bang for your buck.
Here are five reasons you’ll want to include arugula in your diet. The last one may surprise you as it did me.
1. Arugula protects eye health. It is high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration and other age-related eye disorders. Lutein and zeaxanthin help absorb damaging blue light and protect the sensitive parts of the eye from UV rays.
2. Arugula contains cancer-fighting compounds. It contains key phytonutrients such as glucosinolates and sulforaphane which both have cancer-fighting properties. It also contains chlorophyll which helps to clear the body of toxins and has been shown to be effective at blocking carcinogenic heterocyclic amines produced when grilling foods at high temperatures.
3. Arugula supports heart health. It contains the highest levels of nitrates among leafy greens. These nitrates promote nitric oxide production which supports normal endothelial function and mitochondrial health. It can also lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels. This improvement of blood vessel function and lowering of inflammation helps decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow, thereby reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
4. Arugula helps prevent diabetes. It contains alpha-lipoic acid that has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes. A diet high in green vegetables like arugula helps lower triglyceride levels.
5. Arugula may increase libido. Arugula leaves and seeds were associated with aphrodisiac properties in Ancient Rome and Egypt. Even Greek philosophers identified it as a food to increase libido. Its aphrodisiac qualities stem from the trace minerals and antioxidants it contains. These nutrients and phytochemicals inhibit the libido-reducing contaminants that can invade our bodies.
Arugula is easy to grow and is naturally resistant to pests due to its spicy aroma and flavor. It’s peppery leaves can be added to a sandwich or wrap, sautéed with olive oil, used in an omelet or on top of a pizza, or added to a smoothie. Like most leafy greens, it’s an alkalizing food that helps restore the body’s optimal pH level. It is 90 percent water which means it increases your hydration levels.
Like kale, it does not interfere with thyroid function. However, due to the high amounts of vitamin K, those individuals on blood thinning medication may need to restrict their intake.
Arugula has too many benefits to be ignored. Its nutrient-dense powerhouse of antioxidants protect your eye health, prevent and inhibit cancer, support your cardiovascular health, prevent diabetes, and may increase your libido. Five big reasons arugula is making a comeback.
Did you know arugula had aphrodisiac properties? How do you get this valuable plant into your diet? What recipes can you share?
For Your Health,