Arugula is a dark leafy green of the cruciferous family, related to broccoli
, bok choy
, and brussel sprouts
. The leaves resemble an oak leaf or dandelion greens, with generally rounded sections. It is most often eaten raw by adding to salads, but it can also be cooked lightly. Overcooking makes arugula too harsh and bitter.
The flavor of this very aromatic green is rather peppery and is somewhat similar to mustard greens. Arugula is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and folic acid (B9
), as well as calcium, copper, iron, manganese, and potassium, though a large amount of arugula would need to be eaten to get enough of these nutrients unless getting them from other sources as well.
What arugula lacks in quantity of vitamins and minerals, it makes up as a powerhouse of phytonutrients - plant compunds that provide potent health benefits. As with other cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains multiple phytonutrients that have been linked to fighting and preventing cancer when eaten in the right amounts. It is also full of antioxidants - compunds which neutralize the harmful free radicals we are exposed to in so many aspects of our modern lives. At the atomic level, free radicals are ions which seek to steal one or more electron from surrounding atoms. At the cellular level, this causes irreparable damage and can lead to any number of negative consequences over time. Unfortunately we can't escape free radicals all together, but we can provide our bodies the antioxidants to combat them.