The Science-Backed Benefits of Superfood Arugula

Parul Dube

June 29, 2022

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable with multiple common names, such as salad rocket, garden rocket, roquette and colewort. It is a superfood from the plant family Brassicaceae and is a relative to cabbage, collards and cauliflower. This green leafy superfood is often mistaken for a lettuce or salad green, but it’s a cruciferous vegetable with vitamin A, folate, fibre, calcium, and many antioxidant compounds.

Arugula has small, flat leaves and long stems. It is delicious raw and can be enhanced with a quick sauté or light steaming. It is also low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, providing many benefits. While it can be a bit bitter, the peppery and tart flavour is a potent aphrodisiac. Interestingly, Ancient Romans ate arugula for good luck. You can also press its seeds to make Taramira oil, suitable for pickling, cooking and salad dressing. 

Nutritional Profile of Arugula

As per USDA, 100 g of raw arugula offers the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 25 Kcal
  • Protein: 2.58 g
  • Carbohydrate: 3.65 g
  • Fibre: 1.6 g
  • Calcium: 160 mg
  • Iron: 1.46 g
  • Magnesium: 47 mg
  • Zinc: 0.47 mg
  • Vitamin C: 15 mg
  • Vitamin A: 119 µg
  • Folate: 97 µg
  • Beta carotene: 1420 µg

The HealthifyMe Note

Arugula has a rich nutritional profile that can offer various health benefits. It is low in calories and contains some proteins, making it healthy for your weight-loss diet.

In addition, it is a rich source of vitamin A, and C. Vitamin C possesses antioxidant properties and boosts immunity. At the same time, vitamin A helps improve your eyesight. Overall, arugula contains several essential minerals and nutrients, making it a healthy choice for you.

Potential Health Benefits of Arugula

Supports Weight Loss 

Arugula is a low-calorie vegetable, making it a good choice for those on a diet. It only has about 25 calories per 100 g serving. Most importantly, the fewer carbohydrates and good amount of fibre in arugula positively affect any attempts at weight loss. In addition, this vegetable satisfies many nutritional needs without adding unnecessary calorie load to your diet. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about weight gain while eating arugula.

Suppress Inflammation

Arugula contains isothiocyanates and 3-carbinol, which studies show can suppress inflammation in the body. These bioactive compounds in arugula control oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, particularly in cases of metabolic syndrome. Moreover, a recent study shows that arugula was part of a daily intake of leafy greens in the anti-inflammatory diet for those with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Detoxifies Body

Arugula has vitamin C, chlorophyll and antioxidants, which help keep your body free of toxins. Arugula has a lot of qualities that contribute to keeping the liver and body healthy. In addition to chlorophyll, its antioxidants neutralise free radicals, heavy metals, harsh chemicals and pesticides that enter your body through diet. The result is an illness-free, disease-free body and healthy liver. Arugula also strengthens the immune system to fight cancer, ageing and heart disease.

Improves Vision

Beta carotene is beneficial for your eyes because it scavenges free radicals that could harm the retina. It also contains properties that recycle lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eye’s surface. Arugula is dense in beta carotene content, offering around 1420 µg per 100 grams.

Arugula helps prevent problems with eyesight, including macular degeneration and poor night vision. It also has plenty of Omega 3s that act as antioxidants and help reduce the risk of getting cataracts. Therefore, arugula eaters might be able to slow down cataracts, the classic symptom of old age, by increasing carotenoids in the diet. 

Good for Pregnancy

Expecting mothers need to eat more iron, folate, calcium, protein, vitamins A, B and C, magnesium and zinc. And arugula is an excellent source for them. For example, this vegetable contains about 24% of the recommended daily folate intake. In addition, a study shows that folate reduces occurrences of some mental defects for newborns and is also intrinsic to foetal development. So for expecting mothers, arugula is a healthy choice for prenatal care. 

Helps in Digestion

Arugula contains a high fibre content and will help with indigestion if you are prone to it. Eating arugula is also good for your digestive system, colon, gut lining and other organs. Though it’s a lesser discussed green for digestion, arugula’s high amounts of magnesium and Vitamin C can promote a healthy digestive system. These necessary nutrients promote regularity and healthy digestion by decreasing stress and inflammation. 


A study shows that arugula leaf extract can boost testosterone levels and sperm activity. As a result, it simultaneously increases sexual desire and improves fertility. These results suggest that the phytochemicals in arugula have aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing properties. Historically, arugula has been an aphrodisiac since the first century to boost sexual health. In addition, the trace minerals and antioxidants in arugula help block environmental contaminants that negatively affect your libido.

Improves Skin Health

Arugula extract is commonly used in folk medicine to treat and prevent skin conditions, such as eczema, dry skin and acne by adding it to the diet. It works by releasing anti-inflammatory compounds that fight against the damaging effects of free radicals. In addition, arugula can improve cellular resilience and elasticity when consumed regularly and protect your skin from ageing.

Improves Bone Health

Arugula is good high-calcium food. For adults, you should eat 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and arugula provides 160 mg in a cup (100g) serving. In addition, vitamin K in arugula promotes calcium reabsorption and regeneration of muscles and blood coagulation. Therefore, people recovering from bone injuries and osteoporosis patients can eat the leaves of this vegetable for better recovery. 

Rich in Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

A study states that the carotenoids and flavonoids in arugula can be a potent cancer preventative measure. It also says that arugula has more anti-cancer potential than other commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables. For example, the anti-cancer potential of mature arugula leaves was higher than that of broccoli, cabbage, wasabi, kohlrabi, and radishes. However, radish and broccoli sprouts appear to have more cancer-fighting properties than arugula sprouts. 

Potential Side Effects of Arugula

Generally, arugula is safe to eat and has no known food-related allergies. Still, leafy greens like arugula contain small amounts of oxalate, which can produce kidney stones. Therefore, it is best to talk with your doctor about adding arugula to your diet if you’ve previously had calcium oxalate stones. 

Arugula belongs to the cruciferous family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These vegetables are known for causing gas and bloating. So, if you are prone to indigestion, you might want to avoid arugula or eat it in moderation. Another potential problem with arugula is that it can interfere with blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin). Therefore, if you take this medication, you should check with your doctor before eating arugula or other cruciferous vegetables.

The HealthifyMe Note

In general, arugula is safe for most people to eat. However, as with any food, a few people may be allergic to it. If you experience any allergic reaction after eating arugulas, such as hives or swelling, seek medical attention immediately.

Healthy Recipes Using Arugula

Arugula Pesto Sauce

Serves: 1 cup

Preparation time: 10 minutes


  • Unsalted almonds – ⅓ cup 
  • Baby arugula- 1½ cups 
  • Mint leaves – ½ cup packed 
  • Garlic clove, -1
  • Parmesan cheese – ½ cup
  • Sea salt – ½ tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tsp
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – ¼ cup 

Method of Preparation

  • Toast almonds until they begin to brown in spots, 2-3 minutes. 
  • In a food processor, combine arugula, mint, toasted almonds, garlic, Parmesan, salt and lemon juice. 
  • Turn on the processor to high; slowly stream in oil and process until smooth. 
  • Add more oil or seasoning as desired for taste.

Arugula Egg Wrap

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes


  • Shallots – ¼ cup 
  • Eggs – 3
  • Water – 2 tsp
  • Kosher Salt – ⅛ tsp
  • Black pepper – 2 tsp 
  • Whole-wheat tortillas – 4
  • Baby arugula – 1 ½ cups 

Method of Preparation

  • Mix eggs with two tablespoons of water, salt, shallots, and black pepper in a separate bowl to create a smooth mixture. 
  • Mix until well combined. Pour the egg mixture into a hot frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes until almost set. 
  • Put together your burrito by adding layers of scrambled eggs and arugula evenly onto tortillas before rolling them up tightly like a burrito. 

Storage and Preparation Tips for Arugula

You can buy arugula year-round at any grocery store near you. Typically, it is a seasonal vegetable for the spring and summer. While purchasing arugula, always look for bright, lively leaves and do not go for slimy or wilted leaves. 

You can keep arugula fresher longer by refrigerating it. Wrap your arugula in cotton cloths or cheesecloth to reduce moisture before keeping them in a resealable bag. Keep in mind that wet leaves rot more quickly. Arugula is perishable. Therefore, it will be better and more flavorful if you use it immediately or within two days of purchase. 

It’s best to wash the arugula before eating it. You are more likely to get healthy isothiocyanates from eating raw arugula. You can also prepare a lightly cooked arugula to absorb more of certain nutrients and carotenoids than when it is uncooked. And like spinach, arugula may be steamed. Finally, you can incorporate arugula into pesto, soup, omelettes, sandwiches or salads. 


Arugula is the cousin of cabbage, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower that comes under the category of nutritionally potent superfoods. It is an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, folate, iron, fibre and protein. Arugula can be eaten raw or cooked and is a versatile ingredient in many recipes. In addition, eating arugula raw provides you with healthy isothiocyanates. All in all, arugula is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich food. However, exercise caution with arugula if you are currently taking anticoagulant medication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it okay to eat arugula every day?

A. Arugula is rich in nutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins A and C. These help with various functions in the body, such as nerve and heart function, while supporting a healthy immune system. Regularly eating arugula can help you reach your recommended potassium intake of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams. However, excessive consumption is harmful to your health. 

Q. What does arugula do for your body?

A. arugula includes compounds that can protect your cells from damage. These natural substances have anti-cancer properties and might protect against breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers. It also helps with weight loss, boosts skin health, improves vision, and increases libido. 

Q. Is arugula a Superfood?

A: Arugula has a lot in common with other leafy greens, but it comes with its unique benefits. It’s a superfood because it can boost the nutritional value of your diet. Arugula is a superfood that is naturally low in calories and fat.

Q. Which is better, spinach or arugula?

A: Spinach and arugula contain more vitamins than most green leafy vegetables, including vitamins A, C, E, K, and B1, B2, B3, and B6. However, spinach contains significantly higher levels of all vitamins except for vitamin B5. But you can eat arugula as a substitute for spinach. 

Q. What happens if you eat too much arugula?

A. Overeating arugula can cause short-term side effects such as flatulence, abdominal cramping, and discomfort. But, again, it is because of sulforaphane and fibre in the arugula. Excess of arugula is dangerous for people with certain blood disorders or who take medications for blood thinning.

Q. Can I eat too much arugula?

A. Anything we consume should be limited or in moderation. For example, eating arugula daily is not a problem, but too much arugula can cause severe health effects. It can cause gastric discomfort, trigger allergy, and might even cause drug interactions. 

Q. Is arugula healthier raw or cooked?

A. If you eat arugula raw, the body absorbs the healthy isothiocyanates. But, if you lightly cook it, the arugula will provide your body with more nutrients and carotenoids. However, overcooked arugula is not more nutritious than raw ones. 

Q. Which is healthier, kale or arugula?

A. Arugula tastes spicy and can add flavour to different salads and dishes. It provides more calcium and zinc than kale and contains a good source of antioxidants. Arugula is also nutritionally equal to kale in iron and magnesium. Therefore, you can consider arugula as a healthier option. 

Q. Is arugula an anti-inflammatory?

A. Arugula fights inflammation. It contains isothiocyanates and 3-carbinol, which can suppress inflammation in the body. These bioactive compounds in arugula make it anti-inflammatory. 

Q. Is arugula good for hair?

A. Arugula extract will restore your hair’s vigour and nourish it, making it thicker and resistant to external aggressions. In addition, the antioxidants, folates, and vitamins nourish the hair in depth.  

Q. Does arugula help you sleep?

A. Leafy greens are suitable for all sorts of things but also a powerful sleep aid. Arugula, in particular, contains high levels of lactucarium. This substance is a sedative that helps promote feelings of relaxation and sleepiness

Q. Is arugula high in iron?

A: Arugula is an iron-rich vegetable that also supplies fibre. You can get about twenty-five calories from it, and you’ll also receive a lot of vitamin A, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, spinach is relatively higher in iron than arugula.

Q. Is arugula good for your liver?

A. Chlorophyll in arugula can help protect the liver and DNA from aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are toxins from fungi found on crops such as corn, peanuts and cottonseed. They’re associated with a higher risk for liver cancer.

Q. Is arugula spinach?

A. No. Arugula is not spinach. It is easy to differentiate between arugula and spinach based on appearance. Spinach leaves are about 2-4 inches long, triangular, and pointed in shape. Arugula leaves have a pinnate shape with lobes on each side. The colour of the arugula leaves can vary from light green to dark purple; this colour change creates one more way to distinguish the two plants.

Q. Can arugula cause constipation?

A: Like other leafy greens, arugula is high in fibre which can help prevent constipation and improve bowel movements. It’s an alkaline food that also improves your immune system. However, too much arugula can cause constipation. 

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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