Arugula: Nutrition, Benefits, Selecting, Storage & Recipe

by Ella

Arugula, scientifically known as Eruca sativa, is a leafy green vegetable renowned for its peppery flavor and nutritional richness. Belonging to the Brassicaceae family, along with kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, arugula is not just a tasty addition to salads and sandwiches but also packs a punch in terms of health benefits. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nutritional facts, health benefits, as well as provide insights into selecting and storing arugula to ensure its freshness and optimal usage.

Nutritional Facts of Arugula

Arugula is a low-calorie vegetable that offers an array of essential nutrients. Here’s a breakdown of its nutritional profile:


Vitamins: Arugula is particularly rich in vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin A supports vision health, vitamin C boosts the immune system, and vitamin K plays a crucial role in blood clotting and bone health.


Minerals: It contains minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Calcium is essential for bone health, potassium helps regulate blood pressure, and magnesium is involved in various biochemical reactions in the body.


Antioxidants: Arugula contains phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which have antioxidant properties. These compounds help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.


Folate: Arugula is a good source of folate, a B-vitamin important for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate intake is crucial during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus.

Fiber: It is a source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health by preventing constipation and supporting a healthy gut microbiota.

Low Calorie: Arugula is low in calories, making it an excellent choice for those looking to manage their weight while still obtaining essential nutrients.

Health Benefits of Arugula

The consumption of arugula offers numerous health benefits, including:

Supports Heart Health: The presence of antioxidants like vitamin C and phytochemicals in arugula helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. Additionally, its potassium content helps regulate blood pressure, further supporting cardiovascular health.

Promotes Bone Health: Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone metabolism and calcium absorption. Regular consumption of arugula may contribute to improved bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis.

Boosts Immunity: The high vitamin C content in arugula strengthens the immune system by enhancing the production of white blood cells and antibodies, helping the body fight off infections and illnesses.

Aids in Digestion: The fiber content in arugula promotes digestive health by adding bulk to stool, facilitating bowel movements, and preventing constipation. Additionally, it supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which is crucial for overall digestive wellness.

Protects Vision: The presence of carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin in arugula helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts by filtering harmful blue light and reducing oxidative damage to the retina.

Cancer Prevention: Arugula contains glucosinolates, compounds that have been studied for their potential anti-cancer properties. These compounds may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including lung, breast, and colon cancer.

Weight Management: With its low calorie and high fiber content, arugula is a great addition to weight loss diets. The fiber helps increase satiety, keeping you feeling full for longer periods and reducing overall calorie intake.

Selecting Arugula

When selecting arugula, follow these guidelines to ensure you pick the freshest and most flavorful leaves:

Appearance: Choose arugula leaves that are vibrant green in color, with no signs of yellowing or wilting. Avoid any leaves with brown spots or discoloration.

Texture: Look for crisp, tender leaves with a firm texture. Avoid arugula that feels limp or slimy, as these are signs of spoilage.

Smell: Arugula should have a fresh, peppery aroma. Avoid any bunches with a musty or off-putting smell, as this indicates decay.

Stems: Check the stems of the arugula bunch for signs of moisture or browning. Fresh arugula stems should be firm and moist, without any blemishes.

Organic vs. Conventional: If possible, opt for organic arugula to minimize exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Storage Tips for Arugula

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of arugula. Follow these tips to extend the shelf life of your arugula:

Refrigeration: Store unwashed arugula in a perforated plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. The perforations allow for proper air circulation while preventing excess moisture buildup.

Moisture Control: Place a paper towel or clean cloth inside the storage bag or container to absorb excess moisture and prevent the leaves from becoming soggy.

Avoid Compression: Handle arugula with care to prevent bruising or crushing the delicate leaves. Avoid overcrowding the storage container, as compression can accelerate spoilage.

Wash Before Use: Wash arugula thoroughly under cold running water just before use to remove any dirt, sand, or debris. Gently pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.

Use Quickly: Arugula is best consumed within a few days of purchase for optimal freshness and flavor. As it ages, the leaves may become increasingly bitter and lose their crispness.

Recipes Featuring Arugula

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge about arugula’s nutritional benefits, selecting, and storing, let’s explore some delightful recipes that incorporate this peppery green into your meals:

1. Arugula and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette:


  • 4 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, combine arugula, sliced strawberries, crumbled feta cheese, and chopped pecans.

In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper to make the vinaigrette.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.

Serve immediately as a refreshing side dish or light lunch.

2. Arugula Pesto Pasta:


  • 8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or your favorite pasta
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor, combine arugula, toasted pine nuts, minced garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese. Pulse until finely chopped.

With the food processor running, gradually add olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the cooked pasta with the arugula pesto until well coated. Serve warm, garnished with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

3. Grilled Peach and Arugula Pizza:


  • 1 pre-made pizza dough
  • 2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup balsamic glaze
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Roll out the pizza dough into a thin circle. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil.

Place the dough on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly charred and cooked through.

Remove the grilled dough from the grill and top with sliced peaches, fresh arugula, and crumbled goat cheese.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Return the pizza to the grill and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through.

Slice and serve immediately for a unique and flavorful pizza experience.

See Also: 6 Perfect Pairings for Popcorn Shrimp

A Quick Review

By incorporating arugula into your diet and following these guidelines for selecting and storing it, you can reap its nutritional benefits while enjoying its distinctive peppery flavor. Whether tossed in salads, blended into smoothies, or used as a garnish for various dishes, arugula adds a nutritious and delicious element to any meal. Experiment with different recipes and preparations to discover new ways to enjoy this versatile leafy green.



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