Arugula Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Arugula annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Arugula is a leafy green veggie with a spicy kick. Offering a pepper-like flavor, arugula leaves are high in nutrients including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium, all of which are key to helping the body’s organ systems function properly.

While arugula doesn't look anything like broccoli, it is a cruciferous vegetable too, and has been shown to offer many of the same health benefits as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Arugula is relatively inexpensive and easy to find pre-packaged in most grocery stores. It’s also easy to grow at home in a windowsill garden or outside.

Arugula Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one 1/2 cup serving of raw arugula.

  • Calories: 2.5
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 2.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Sugars: 0.2g
  • Protein: 0.3g

Carbs

Arugula is very low in carbohydrates, offering less than 1 gram per serving. Unlike many of its other cruciferous counterparts, arugula is rather low in fiber per serving. However, if you’re using it as a salad base, you will likely be consuming more than a 1/2 cup serving. A 2-cup serving of raw arugula would provide closer to 0.8 grams of fiber.

Fat

Not surprisingly, as a leafy, cruciferous vegetable, arugula is virtually fat-free.

Protein

Arugula is also very low in protein. If you’re using it as a salad base, you’ll likely want to include a protein source—this could be a meat product such as chicken or a legume like black beans.

Vitamins and Minerals

Micronutrients are where arugula really shines. It is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and magnesium. Two cups of raw arugula will provide 20% of the body’s daily vitamin A needs, 50% of vitamin K needs, and 8% each of vitamin C, folate, and calcium.

Health Benefits

The nutrients in arugula help the body’s cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive systems work properly and offer other health benefits as well.

Decreases Cancer Risk

For decades, research has shown that consuming a high amount of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing cancer, particularly lung and colon cancers. The beneficial compound in cruciferous vegetables, glucosinate, can be degraded by cooking. Since arugula is rarely cooked, you get more glucosinate when you eat it.

Boosts Bone Health

Because of its high vitamin K content, arugula improves bone health through improved calcium absorption and contributes to the prevention of osteoporosis.

Reduces Diabetes Complications

Leafy green vegetables such as arugula contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that may especially benefit people with diabetes. This compound promotes lower glucose levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and prevents oxidative stress-induced changes.

Lowers Heart Disease Risk

A review of several studies on leafy green and cruciferous vegetables found a nearly 16% reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease in people who consumed more of these veggies.

Allergies

Occasional allergies to arugula have been reported in the medical literature, especially in people with seasonal (pollen) allergies.  If you are concerned about a potential or existing food allergy, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

Adverse Effects

If you take a blood thinner, such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you keep your intake of foods high in vitamin K about the same each day as vitamin K interacts with these medications. Before adding arugula to your diet, discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Varieties

There are a few cultivars of arugula, and you might hear referred to as "rocket." The Latin name of the plant is Eruca sativa. Different cultivars may have slightly different leaf shapes and levels of flavor intensity, but the nutritional profiles will be very similar.

When It's Best

While arugula production peaks from June to December, you can usually find it in stores all year long—often in pre-washed bags or boxes, on its own or mixed with other greens.

Storage and Food Safety

Arugula is highly perishable and should be kept refrigerated. Keep it dry, in a plastic bag, and it will last for about a week.

How to Prepare

While there’s nothing wrong with eating plain arugula, most people prefer to eat it combined with other foods due to its slightly spicy, peppery flavor.

Try a new take on a Caesar salad with arugula, pecorino cheese, lemon juice, and Italian dressing as your ingredients. You could add tomato and green onion as well, and/or mix in other types of lettuce for variety.

Another popular salad combo is arugula, other mixed greens, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and walnuts. You can also use arugula in place of lettuce in sandwiches or sautéed and mixed into pasta dishes.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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