Arugula is a flavourful, oak-shaped leaf with a peppery taste. Known as rocket in some parts of the world, arugula adds a powerful health boost to any menu choice. Easily grown at home, this leafy green contains only 5 calories per cup meaning it would take 20 cups of arugula to get the same calories in just a ¼ cup of granola.
The fibre in arugula helps promote digestive regularity, keeps your tummy happy and leaves you feeling full longer so you resist other fatty foods. It also helps to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease.
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Here are five more reasons to add rocket to your meals:
1. Arugula is a detoxifying, cancer-fighting superfood. Arugula is a member of the brassica family of vegetables called cruciferous – this group is known for its nutritional powerhouses broccoli, kale and cabbage. This family of vegetables is high in fibre and antioxidants, but they’re also rich in compounds known as glucosinolates, which studies show may reduce the risk of developing lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
2. Arugula has high levels of chlorophyll which can help to prevent DNA and liver damage from aflatoxins — carcinogenic substances produced by the mold sometimes found in corn, peanuts and some tree nuts. To preserve the chlorophyll in arugula – eat it raw. It tastes great in a salad!
3. Arugula promotes bone health. It contains eight times more calcium than iceberg lettuce as well as vitamin K, which is important for the absorption of calcium into the bones and teeth. Vitamin K also plays a role in the prevention of heart disease. Plaque that forms inside the linings of the arteries can be partly related to calcium that is not taken up by the bones and teeth. This important vitamin can also help to keep this calcium going to the bones where it belongs!
4. Eating arugula will help to reduce chronic inflammation. Arugula contains indole-3-carbinol and isothiocyanates. Both of these bioactive compounds have been shown to suppress the production of inflammatory mediators.
5. Eating arugula can protect the aging brain and cognitive decline. Arugula is high in most of the B vitamins but contains especially high amounts of folate. In high functioning older adults, low levels of folate have been shown to be a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Rejuvenating arugula salad
This salad is inspired by Sardinia, the Italian island that has some of the longest living people on the planet. The mix of sweet heritage tomatoes, seasoned sardines and arugula will transport you to a seaside town leaving you refreshed. This salad is packed with heart-healthy and energizing choices. As a nice addition to the salad, if you see clovers growing in your backyard pick them! They make a beautiful hormone-balancing garnish.
4 cups rugula greens
2 heritage tomatoes, sliced
120 g sardines, canned (environmentally sustainable)
2 tbsp Veganaise
A pinch of sea salt, unrefined
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or flavoured fish oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ large avocado, sliced
Fresh clover flowers
1. Wash arugula and chop in half if leaves are long. Divide 4 cups of arugula onto 2 plates.
2. Divide and layer tomatoes and sardines and place on top of arugula.
3. Combine lemon juice, oil, salt and Veganaise in a small bowl until well mixed.
4. Pour dressing over salad, top with garnishes and serve.
Makes 2 salads
What's your favourite way to eat arugula?
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. She is the author of Meals That Heal Inflammation.
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