Move over Iceberg lettuce…make way for arugula!

Move over Iceberg lettuce…make way for arugula!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Move over Iceberg lettuce…make way for arugula!

By Mary Lou Block RDN LMNT


If you have been looking with suspicion at the narrow, jagged leaves of the salad-green labeled arugula, be suspicious no more.  You will love the nutty and slightly peppery flavor of this power-packed salad leaf.  Besides adding a great flavor to your lunch, it is loaded with health boosting nutrients.

It’s not rocket science!

     Arugula is also known as “Rocket Lettuce” and Italian cress.  It a cruciferous vegetable, a member of the brassica family.  You know its relatives well:  broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.   

Cancer Fighters

     As a cruciferous vegetable, arugula, like broccoli, contains glucoraphanin.  Glucoraphanin is converted to sulphoraphane as arugula leaves are chopped and chewed.   “Why would this matter to me?” you ask.  Because sulphoraphane belongs to a class of phytochemicals (isothiocynates) that are known for cancer prevention and destruction. 

     If that doesn’t convince you to drink an arugula smoothie, maybe knowing this will: chlorophyll in arugula is also anti-carcinogenic and contributes to all your repair pathways through its storehouse of magnesium.

Cardiovascular, Brain, Bone Health and More

     Adding arugula to your diet has a wide variety of health potential due to the jackpot of antioxidants, and vitamins it contains.  

     Rich in Vitamins A and C, it contributes to your immune system and vision.   Did you know that adequate intakes of Vitamin C are associated with decreased instances of cancer, cardiovascular disease, age related macular degeneration and cataracts? 

     Arugula also contains folate, a vitamin necessary for the maturation of red blood cells.  Let’s don’t forget that folate is essential during pregnancy for the prevention of birth defects.  The folate in arugula  helps lower homocysteine levels that are associated with cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

     Arugula plays an important role in blood clotting*, but did you know it contributes to bone health for the same reason, it’s Vitamin K content?  Vitamin K is known for placing calcium where it belongs, in your bones and not your blood vessels!   Adding one cup of arugula to your menu sends you one-fourth of the way to meeting your Vitamin K RDA for the day.  While we are on the subject of bone health, arugula also contributes a small amount of calcium to your daily menu.

     If you struggle with Type 2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes, raise your hand when an arugula salad is offered.  A higher intake of vegetables and fruits is associated with reduced risks for these diseases.

     Can you see why I am encouraging you to step out of your iceberg lettuce comfort zone?  This little leaf is perfect for any one of us looking to improve our health.  This summer is a perfect time to try it!

Looking for ways to utilize arugula?

     Are you ready for a big shift in your salad habit?  Try an Arugula, Avocado, Cucumber Salad or Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan, Lemon & Olive Oil.   If you are not sure about changing your salad, try adding arugula to a smoothie or as a topping for pizza, tacos, or sandwiches.  And If you regularly step over the edge to adventurous cooking, try Wilted Arugula and Portobello Mushrooms with dinner!

     …..Still not convinced?  Try Arugula Waldorf Salad!



* If you are taking a blood thinner, speak with Mary Lou Block, RDN and Nikki Salomon, PharmD. R.P. about how you might increase your intake of high Vitamin K foods while taking this medication.