10 Interesting Benefits of Arugula (Eruca Sativa)

by Kiran Patil last updated -

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The health benefits of arugula include weight loss, a reduced risk of cancer, healthy bones, and an improved eyesight. It has antioxidant properties and is good for the skin. It also helps in strengthening the brain, improving metabolic functions, mineral absorption, and boosting the immune system.

What is Arugula?

Arugula is a leafy green plant that belongs to the genus Eruca and the family Brassicaceae. It is closely related to radish, kale, and cauliflower. Arugula has a number of different names depending on what area of the world you are in. These various names include garden rocket, rucola, roquette, and colewort.

Arugula grows to a height of 20-100 centimeters and is recognizable by its small and white flowers. The leaves of arugula are lobed in nature, with 4-10 lateral lobes and a longer terminal lobe. It is grown on a large scale for commercial consumption but it also exists as a wild species throughout the world. It is predominantly used in the Americas, Europe, and North Africa.

To the untrained eye, arugula might just look like fancy lettuce, but not all greens are made equal, and arugula has a wide range of health benefits that frequent eaters of this cruciferous vegetable can enjoy.

Nutrition Facts

Arugula, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]91.71
Energy [kcal]25
Protein [g]2.58
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.66
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.65
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.6
Sugars, total [g]2.05
Calcium, Ca [mg]160
Iron, Fe [mg]1.46
Magnesium, Mg [mg]47
Phosphorus, P [mg]52
Potassium, K [mg]369
Sodium, Na [mg]27
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.47
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]15
Thiamin [mg]0.04
Riboflavin [mg]0.09
Niacin [mg]0.31
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, DFE [µg]97
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]119
Vitamin A, IU [IU]2373
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.43
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]108.6
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.05
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.32
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Arugula Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, arugula is a leafy green plant packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Amongst minerals it provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium. It has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, and folic acid and other B vitamins.

It is a good dietary choice for a healthy body and is packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, and carotenoids. As compared to other leafy greens, arugula is low in oxalates, which are chemicals that actually inhibit the absorption of minerals into the body. All in all, arugula is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich food.

Health Benefits of Arugula

The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants packed in every leaf of arugula are certainly beneficial to those who incorporate it into their diet.

Rich in Antioxidants

Arugula is a great source of antioxidants and can greatly increase a person’s ORAC value (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity), which is a method for measuring antioxidant capacities. Antioxidants function to maintain a healthy balance of enzyme reactions within cells, while actively seeking out and destroying the disease-causing free radicals that can attack your system. Your immune system will also thank you for choosing arugula, because antioxidants work to bolster your defenses against simple illnesses like the common cold as well as more complex afflictions, such as cancer, heart diseases, and premature aging.


Boosts Bone Health

Arugula is rich in vitamin K. In a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, we can see that vitamin K plays a critical role in promoting bone health and bone formation. The gradual degradation of neural pathways, found in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, can be slowed down by an increase in intake of vitamin K. As a good source of Vitamin K, the consumption of arugula has been cited as a preventative method of such diseases.

Arugula’s combinative effects of low oxalate levels (allowing more minerals into the system) and the presence of so many minerals in the plant itself make it a strong support system for healthy bones. Sufferers of osteoporosis can see improvements, and arugula can be used as a preventative step as well, ensuring bone health and strength before the age/activity-based effects of bone degeneration become serious.

Helps Improve Immune System

Arugula is loaded with vitamins and minerals that in some way bolster the defenses of the body’s immune system. The body is stimulated to create white blood cells from the copper in arugula, and the plant has a number of other ways to improve the strength of your immune system.

Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage. This well-known vitamin is found in large quantities in arugula and helps prevent cancer and maintain good health by giving an extra push to your immune system.

Anti-cancer Properties

The European Journal of Nutrition has published a study that has found that the phytochemicals, found in arugula, inhibit the activity of cancer-causing cells. Phytochemicals are substances like thiocyanates, sulforaphane, or indoles that are effective in countering cancer-causing tendencies in the body’s own processes. Studies suggest that these compounds help fight prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.

Pre-natal Care

For mothers who are expecting, arugula is a wonderful choice to add to their diet. Folates, a classification which includes folic acid, have been shown to decrease occurrences of certain mental defects in newborns. It is rich in folates, as are many leafy vegetables.

Increases Metabolism

Another benefit of arugula is the presence of B-Complex vitamins that promote metabolism. Eight B vitamins participate and aid in all different cell activities, including energy production, fat synthesis, the production of red blood cells, and many other vital processes for cell and metabolic health.

Arugulainfo2Improves Eyesight

Dr. Elizabeth J. Johnson, in her study on the role of carotenoids, states that they help improve the eye health. Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids, which are naturally occurring pigments that have long been famous for improving a person’s ability to see properly. In fact, carotenoids slow down the process of macular degeneration, which is when the center of a person’s field of vision becomes compromised. In most instances, this causes cataracts, which then, have to be removed. By increasing the number of carotenoids in your diet (and arugula is a great source for them), arugula eaters may be able to slow down this classic symptom of old age.

Increases Mineral Absorption

Arugula has a very low level of oxalates when compared to other popular leafy vegetables like spinach. Oxalates inhibit the absorption of minerals by the body’s systems, which is counterproductive to consuming minerals in the same bite. So the minerals, like copper and iron, which you get from the plant, are more easily absorbed by the body for efficient use.

Weight Loss

The inclusion of arugula in a diet is the same as any other low-calorie, vitamin or nutrient-rich plant, and it will inevitably have a positive effect on any attempts at weight loss. By satisfying so many nutritional needs, it is an easy way to watch your health and keep your system balanced, without making drastic changes to your diet.

Improves Overall Health

Vitamin A is one of the antioxidants mentioned above, and its significant presence in arugula also guarantees the ‘garden rocket’ eaters an improved condition of their bones, teeth, and eyes. The flavonoid compounds in all leafy vegetables similar to arugula have been shown to protect against skin, lung, and various oral types of cancer.

Arugula Recipes

There are many ways in which arugula can be incorporated in your daily diet. Let us look at some quick and easy arugula recipes

Arugula Green Salad

Ingredients: Arugula (1 cup), lettuce (1 cup), radicchio (1 cup), parsley, olive oil (1 tablespoon), lime juice (3 teaspoons) , salt and pepper

  • Mix fresh arugula, lettuce, and radicchio leaves in a bowl
  • Add olive oil and lime juice for additional flavor
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish the salad with freshly chopped parsley

Note: You can also add other vegetables, fruits, and nuts to make your own salad.

Arugula Cheese Salad

Ingredients: Fresh and dry arugula leaves (2 cups each), parmesan cheese (thin slices), onion (1), lemon juice (3 teaspoons), salt and pepper (to taste)

  • Mix fresh and dry arugula in a bowl
  • Add thin slices of parmesan cheese and sliced onion to the bowl
  • Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper

Pasta with Arugula

Ingredients: Pasta (300g), arugula leaves (2 cups), lime juice (3 teaspoons), olive oil (2 tablespoon), cheese (grated, 1/2 cup), salt and pepper (to taste)

  • Mix arugula and lime juice in a bowl
  • Add lemon zest to the mixture for added flavor
  • Cook and drain the pasta and add the arugula mix
  • Season it with salt and pepper
  • Add olive oil and toss the pasta. Serve pasta topped with grated cheese and enjoy!
About the Author

Kiran Patil is the founder of Organic Facts. He has a keen interest in health, nutrition, and organic living. He completed his B.Tech and M. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Bombay and has been actively writing about health and nutrition since over past 12 years. When not working he likes to trek and do gardening.

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