Due to its unique chemical composition, arugula is in the top of the most healthy vegetables. These green leaves contain almost no calories, but at the same time they are an excellent source of many components necessary for health. This is an antioxidant vegetable that can protect against inflammation, heart disease and even cancer. In the ancient world he was considered a symbol of good luck. And if you consider how useful this vegetable is, then its appearance on the dining table is a real success for the body.
What is arugula
The homeland of arugula is considered to be the Mediterranean region, where the local population has been using this vegetable for centuries. In our latitudes, many consider arugula an exotic seasoning that came to us from Italy. But in fact, this plant was known in Russia. True, our ancestors called it a caterpillar (however, the Latin name of the plant also translates as "caterpillar") and considered it a weed that served as food for birds and cattle.
Arugula (botanical name - Eruca Sativa) is a member of the Brassica family, that is, it represents cruciferous vegetables. And this means that the list of her closest relatives includes different types of cabbage, chard and other healthy vegetables. This is a small annual plant about 50-55 cm high with oblong green leaves. The first caterpillar crop can be harvested as early as 40 days after sowing. His flowers are white with streaks of purple. Seeds are formed in small pods. Arugula is a picky plant, but does not like direct sunlight, like frost.
A few centuries BC, arugula, along with lettuce and chicory, was included in the traditional menu of the ancient Romans. In those days, people at the same frequency ate greens and seeds of this vegetable. For the ancients, arugula was both a daily food and a medicinal plant. In Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, its seeds were used for aromatization of oil, as well as an effective potion against infertility, diseases of the digestive system and skin. But in India, the leaves of arugula were not consumed, but oil from the seeds of this plant was very popular there.
Interestingly, the caterpillar is mentioned in ancient religious texts, in particular in the Bible and the Talmud.
This apparently unremarkable vegetable can actually serve as a real storehouse of nutrient components. Fresh leaves of the plant contain a lot of vitamin K and folic acid. Arugula is rich in carotenoids, including zeaxanthin and lutein, which are considered the best vitamins for the eyes.
Even more than vitamins, this plant contains isothiocyanates - amazing components created by nature. These substances have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Isothiocyanates can rightly be called magic compounds against aging. A diet rich in these substances not only slows down age-related changes, but can also reverse the signs of aging and cure some diseases. Many studies have shown that the consumption of arugula reduces the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiac diseases. This plant is known as a diuretic and expectorant, it increases hemoglobin, and for nursing mothers, arugula is useful for better milk production.
Despite the very low calorie content, the vegetable contains a relatively large amount of protein and fiber. It is one of the best sources of vitamin K, as well as vitamins B, C, A, E, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper and calcium. By the way, this greens contains as much calcium as spinach. But unlike spinach, the caterpillar does not have oxalates that prevent the absorption of minerals. Thus, it makes sense to consider arugula as a more useful source of calcium than the spinach popular among many.
|Calorie content||25 kcal|
|Vitamin A||115 mg|
|Vitamin C||15 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.4 mg|
|Vitamin K||109 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.1 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.3 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.4 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin B9||97 mcg|
Effect on the body
The consumption of fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with health. Many studies have shown that regular consumption of plant foods reduces the risk of many diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders. A diet containing fresh vegetables improves overall well-being and appearance. Arugula also has many beneficial properties. Below are some of them.
Protects against cancer
Like all cruciferous vegetables, the caterpillar has an incredible ability to reduce the risk of cancer. The thing is that in the composition of the cruciferous there are substances that neutralize the influence of free radicals. The antioxidants contained in the vegetable accelerate the elimination of toxins from the body, as well as slow down the aging process.
Arugula, like many varieties of cabbage, contains many glycosinolates - substances that researchers call key in the fight against cancer cells. When a person consumes arugula, these chemicals react with digestive enzymes (myrosinase). As a result, new compounds are formed - isothiocyanates, which have anti-cancer capabilities.
Scientists found many isothiocyanates in arugula, including sulforaphane and erucin. By the way, these same phytonutrients were found in kohlrabi and Beijing cabbage. It is these sulfur-containing substances that give cruciferous vegetables a special aftertaste. Sulforaphane is known to be able to reduce the risk of melanoma, cancer of the esophagus, pancreas and prostate. This substance also inhibits the activity of an enzyme that accelerates the growth of cancerous tumors. Studies have confirmed that isothiocyanates can neutralize dangerous carcinogens that cause DNA damage and cell mutation. In addition, isothiocyanates can slow down or completely stop the growth of a cancerous tumor. Scientists say that thanks to this substance, arugula is able to effectively prevent malignant degeneration of cells.
In addition to these components, arugula contains chlorophyll, and it, as scientific studies show, blocks the carcinogenic effect of heterocyclic amines (they enter the body with food cooked in fat at high temperatures).
It turns out that this green vegetable is no less useful for good vision: it can protect the eyes from age-related changes. Carotenoids contained in arugula are useful in preventing macular degeneration, and this is one of the leading causes of blindness in people of age. Lutein and zeaxanthin are necessary to protect the retina of the eye and cornea from ultraviolet radiation. The caterpillar is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, possessing antioxidant properties, protect the eyes from diseases, including cataracts.
Strengthens the heart
Arugula in the role of a product with anti-inflammatory properties, is useful for strengthening blood vessels. This vegetable also effectively lowers cholesterol and homocysteine levels, making it one of the most beneficial foods for the heart. These greens are useful for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes, and the rich reserves of potassium and magnesium help control heart rhythms.
In addition, one serving of arugula provides almost a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, making this vegetable ideal for the prevention of thrombosis.
Promotes bone mineralization
It is well known that green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of calcium. And arugula is also concerned. But researchers are talking about something else: Vitamin K contributes to better absorption of calcium and protein. And in the composition of arugula and calcium, and vitamin K is contained in large quantities. Conclusion: this vegetable should be the main one for people prone to frequent fractures or suffering from osteoporosis.
Contributes to weight loss
Probably, for effective weight loss there is nothing better than green leafy vegetables. A serving of arugula is only 5 kcal, but at the same time, a small amount of this vegetable contains many minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, which the body needs, following a low-calorie diet. Another plus of arugula is its high fiber content. Thanks to this component, the feeling of satiety remains for a long time.
Arugula belongs to alkaline food, which, according to researchers, helps to restore the optimal pH level in the body. Why is this so important? The health of the digestive organs and the functioning of the immune system directly depend on the level of acidity. In addition, greens are fiber-rich foods. And this substance is indispensable for the proper functioning of the intestines and the prevention of constipation.
As a rule, the caterpillar hits the plates in the form of fresh greens. Meanwhile, the researchers determined that the seeds of this plant reduce the risk of diabetes. In particular, by maintaining a stable level of sugar (prevents hyperglycemia) and increasing sensitivity to insulin. And in the greenery of this plant, alpha-lipoic acid was found - a substance with antioxidant properties. In addition, alpha lipoic acid is also able to lower glucose levels, increase the body's sensitivity to insulin and prevent neuropathy in people with diabetes.
Improves skin condition
Arugula extract is also considered useful for the prevention and treatment of skin diseases. In Chinese medicine, this plant has been used for many centuries to treat eczema and psoriasis. The arugula-rich menu increases skin resistance to UV radiation and also slows down signs of skin aging. Beauticians have noticed that caterpillar sap improves skin color and treats acne.
The ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugula an aphrodisiac. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Romans noticed that the use of this green improves erection. The ancient Greek poet Virgil mentioned these plant properties. As modern scientific experiments confirm, the caterpillar improves blood circulation and cleanses the body of toxins, which in turn, of course, has a beneficial effect on male power. A study in mice showed that arugula juice increases testosterone production.
Eliminates bad odor
Thanks to chlorophyll, arugula can serve as a natural deodorant. And interestingly, it does not just mask the unpleasant odor, but destroys the bacteria that cause it. For this reason, in order to eliminate stale breath, it is enough to eat a few leaves of this plant. And the use of large portions of the vegetable can affect the smell of the whole body. By the way, in ancient times, folk healers used arugula juice to wash purulent wounds to get rid of an unpleasant odor.
Potential Health Harm
Fresh vegetables are usually the most healthy food for humans. But it happens that arugula can be potentially dangerous to health.
First of all, this applies to people taking medications that thin the blood (for example, warfarin). Against the background of medicines from this group, vitamin K, which affects blood coagulation, is not the most desirable. Namely, this vitamin is found in large quantities in arugula. The second danger of a vegetable may be due to improper cultivation or storage (using chemicals). Caterpillar sap can accumulate hazardous substances in the soil. In addition, the spicy taste of greens in some people can cause irritation in the throat, and for people with allergies, edema, abdominal cramps and impaired digestion are possible. It is undesirable to abuse this vegetable to people with sick kidneys, high acidity of the stomach, gout.
How to choose arugula
The taste of arugula is difficult to confuse with other plants. This greens has a pepper flavor, due to which it provides the body with a natural cooling effect. Young leaves of arugula are delicious in salads in combination with other herbs. It is a young arugula that is considered more tasty and healthy. Old leaves have a bitter aftertaste.
It is important to choose fresh leaves of bright green color, without spots and damages. It is advisable to use greens within a few days after purchase, since the arugula will quickly wither. To preserve the freshness of the caterpillar, it can be stored in the refrigerator, previously wrapped in wet paper.
By the way, you can grow this greens not only in greenhouses and in open beds, but also at home on the windowsill and balcony. Arugula is a picky plant. 3 hours of sunshine per day is enough for her to give tasty and juicy greens.
In cooking, arugula greens can be used as parsley or cilantro. It remains tasty both fresh and boiled. It goes well with other vegetables, pasta, suitable for soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs, sauces, sandwiches, cold dishes. The taste of arugula is well emphasized by tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cheese, garlic. In many recipes, spinach, chard or watercress can be replaced with arugula without damage, resulting in a more aromatic and spicy dish. Salads from this vegetable go well with cold meat and fish. And in Slovenia, for example, arugula is traditionally served with boiled potatoes or cheese, and is also used to make soups. Italians traditionally combine this greens with parmesan.
For this appetizer you will need arugula, beets, goat cheese, walnuts, a little lemon juice and coconut oil, a spoonful of honey, black pepper and sea salt. Cool boiled beets, peel and cut into small slices. Add the remaining ingredients, mix.
Use in cosmetology
The composition of this plant has many components that are beneficial for the skin and hair. In addition to antioxidant vitamins that rejuvenate the skin and restore hair, the substance contains diindolylmethane in the arugula. This component is well known in cosmetology, as it is used to treat warts and papillomas. Plant juice moisturizes and tightens the skin, evens out its tone, removes dark spots and the vascular network, soothes irritations and inflammations, and moisturizes flaky areas.
For hair, in addition to juice, arugula oil is also useful. It strengthens curls, stimulates their growth, treats dandruff. Caterpillar masks are useful for hair damaged by paint or the sun.
Mask for the face
Mix in a blender a bunch of fresh arugula, a little milk and a teaspoon of honey. The resulting slurry is slightly warmed up in a water bath and applied evenly on the skin of the face. After 10 minutes rinse with warm water.
Arugula is a tasty and healthy vegetable. However, this greens does not just add an unusual taste to your favorite salads, it supplies the body with many useful substances.It is not for nothing that, for many centuries, gourmets of the Mediterranean have been careful to ensure that arugula is always on their tables. It's time for us to adopt this tradition.