Get to Know Arugula

This dark, peppery green is more than just a salad component

Arugula, also known as salad rocket, is an early summer vegetable with a cool, peppery flavor. While it packs the nutrients and health benefits of other dark, leafy greens, this salad superstar has got even more going for it than just that.

First, arugula is a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Compared to iceberg lettuce, arugula has about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron. It’s an obvious choice for salads. Try it in this strawberry, arugula and spinach salad with grilled shrimp recipe.

Leafy greens often contain oxalate, a compound that can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Eating greens like spinach and collard greens may lead to insufficient absorption of calcium, but arugula is lower in oxalate than some other greens, so it’s a good option for those looking to lower their oxalate intake.

Arugula is also classified as a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. The National Cancer Institute is currently studying these types of vegetables due to their possible anticancer effects. This benefit could be due to a class of compounds called glucosinolates that are found in cruciferous vegetables. Glucosinolates break down into biologically-active compounds, such as indoles and isothiocyanates, which have shown anticancer effects in animal cells.

You can also eat arugula as a source of folate, also known as vitamin B-9. Folate helps support metabolism and helps control gene activity in the cells to help the body to create new DNA. It is also great for expecting mothers because it plays an essential role in in-utero nervous system development. A 2-cup serving of arugula contains approximately 10 percent of your daily intake of folate.

And arugula isn’t just for salads. You can roast it, make it into pesto, puree it and use it to add a more complex flavor to soups, or sauté it with olive oil and garlic. Try it in this strawberry, arugula and spinach salad recipe from

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