The first “leafy green” that we will consider adding to our grocery list as newly-nutritional-conscientious type 2 diabetics is…
Arugula has been used since the first century by the ancient Romans and Egyptians for many different purposes. Not only did ancient civilizations eat the leaves, but they also thought arugula to be an awesome aphrodisiac and used the seeds of the arugula plant to make aphrodisiac and medicinal oils and compounds.
The leaves on this “leafy green” look like oakleaves and are typically 3″ to 8″ long dark green leaves, depending on the maturity of the leaf.
The smaller, paler leaves typically have a mild flavor that is good for fresh dishes like salad and pesto…while the older, darker leaves have more zing, making them better for making soup and topping off your pizza/
Okay, so now that we know what “arugula” is, and the fact that it was once considered an “aphrodisiac,”…why should the over-fifty crowd be adding more aphrodisiacal argula to our diets?
Given the fact that all “Leafy Greens” are a good source of vitamins, folate, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids, minerals—such as potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium—, antioxidants, and phytochemicals…all the A’s, B’s, and C’s of general nutrition that so many of us are not even aware that we need and why we need them…why choose arugula?
Arugula and the “Food Label”…Let’s first look at the nutritional value of 1/2C arugula…
Calories from Fat…6
Total Fat…1 g…1%
Total Carbohydrates…4 g…1%
Dietary Fiber…1.6 g…6%
Agugula and the ANDI…0One of the terms that I have learned at this phase of my journey is “nutritarian.”
A “nutritarian” is a person who chooses what he or she eats based on what foods have the highest ratio of micronutrients per calorie….a person who adopts a longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
This term was coined by Dr. Fuhrman. Furhman is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, Fuhrman specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods.
Fuhrman created a scale known as the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index that shows the nutritional density of many common foods based on 34 important nutrients, including…
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), a measurement of the antioxidant capacity of that particular food.
Nutritarians can use the ANDI Scores to compare foods and see which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense.
The foods included in this index are given a score of 1-1000, with 1 being the lowest and 1000 being the highest.
Leafy green vegetables in general score the highest on this index.
Arugula has an ANDI score of 604.
Arugula and Potassium...Two cups of arugula contain about 150mg of potassium, roughly 3% percent of the 4,700 mg of the potassium recommended for healthy adults. Although arugula isn’t a top source of potassium, it does boost your intake of the nutrient.
Arugula and Calcium…Two cups of arugula contain 6%DV of calcium.
Arugula and Flavonoids…The “flavonoids” in arugula have been shown to have anti-cancer — as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.
Arugula and Folate...Two cups of arugula contain 10%DV of folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent birth defects and also important for lowering your risk of heart disease.
Arugula and Vitamin K...Not getting enough vitamin K in your diet increases your risk of fracturing a bone because vitamin K keeps your bones healthy by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.
Arugula and Antioxidants…Arugula contain certain antioxidants, more specifically alpha-lipoic acid. This acid has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.
Arugula and Calcium...Arugula is a surprisingly good source of calcium—it has more of this bone-builder than the other greens on this list.
Arugula and Nitrates…The nitrates found in arugula are believed to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. These nitrates also can be beneficial to people with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases who find the activities of daily life are physically difficult because of lack of oxygen.
Arugula and Vitamin A…Two cups of arugula contains 19%DVof vitamin A. This is important for helping you have good vision, particularly at night or in low light environments.
Arugula and Magnesium...Two cups of arugula contain 5%DV of magnesium.
Arugula and Copper....The copper found in arugula increases your immunity to disease because it createa white blood cells.
Arugula and Vitamin C….Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage, helps prevent cancer, and maintain good health.
Arugula and Phytochemicals...Arugula contains large quantities of phytochemicalssuch as thiocyanates, sulforaphane, or indoles —that inhibit the activity of cancer-causing cells and lowers your risk of getting certain types of cancer—such as prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.
Arugula and Folates…Arugula is rich in folic acid, a fact that is important to pregnant women who want to decrease the risk of their babies being born with certain mental defects.
Arugula and Vitamin B…Arugula contains all eight of the B-Complex vitamins. These viramins are important participantes in cell function—including energy production, fat synthesis, and the production of red blood cells.
Arugula and Carotenoids…,Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids, naturally occurring pigments that improve your ability to see properly and slows down the process of macular degeneration.
Health Benefits…Finally let’s read through a list of the health benefits of earing arugula. Adding arugula to your diet is an important step in…
- keeping the mind clear and focused
controlling blood pressure
reducing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise
enhancing athletic performance
helping reduce blood pressure
improving blood flow to your muscles so that they can work more efficiently, especially when exercising
helping you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight
keeping your eyes healthy
helping prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among older adults
normalizing and controlling blood pressure levels
lowering your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
helping reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancers
slowing the progression of cancer.
decreasomg the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
improving your immune system
decreasing your odds of getting simple illnesses such as the common cold
Okay, I’ve just added arugula to my grocery list, but what should I do with it once I get it home…
First of all, how do I know which bundle of arugula to stick into my grocery cart?!
Choose arugula that is fresh and crisp, particularly at the stem. Look for plants that have dark green leaves, not yellow. Refrain from buying arugula with leaves that are wilted, have dark or slimy spots, or yellow or brown edges.
Next, how do I store it, and how long will it stay fresh in my food rotter?
Arugula leaves will spoil quickly, so some care must be taken to help keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
Wrap the roots of the arugula in a damp paper towel, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Another option would be to place the arugula upright in a glass of water, as you would a bouquet of flowers, and then cover the leaves with a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator.
Another point to remember is to not store arugula beside pears, apples or bananas, as this will cause its leaves to decay faster.
Plan on using within a couple of days after buying them.
So what should I make with my arugula?
One thing to remember when deciding how to use the arugula that you have purchased, is that older and larger leaves have a more intense peppery flavor than the younger and smaller leaves.
The tenderness and milder taste of the younger leaves make them a great choice for salads such as this one…
Arugula, Avocado, and Olive Salad
- 3 bunches arugula
- 1 sliced avocado
- 1C sliced kalamata olives
- 1/2C pine nuts
- 1/2C olive oil
- 2 minced cloves garlic
- 1tsp red pepper flakes
- 2Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2Tbsp white wine vinegar
Roast the pine nuts in a shallow pan at 325 degrees F until brown. Combine the arugula, avocado, and olives. Whisk the dressing together. Pour the dressing over the salad. Top with pine nuts.
The larger, older leaves are better for steaming or using in sauces.
Arugula tends to sauté faster than kale and collard greens, and adds more flavor to a dish than spinach or Swiss chard. Often arugula is used along with milder greens such as watercress and romaine.
For example, try making your own version of the following pasta dish…
Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Cook and drain pasta. Combine arugula, pasta, and whatever else you choose, such as grilled chicken.
Pesto…great served with pasta, burgers, sandwiches, or roasted and grilled meat
Blend arugula with the following ingredients…
- 1/2C basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4C walnuts
- 1/2C grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
A few more final ideas on how to use arugula…
- Add a handful of fresh arugula to an omelet or scramble
- Add arugula to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread
- Throw a handful of arugula and blend into a fresh juice or smoothie
- Top your pizza with fresh arugula…this is very popular in the Mediterranean region.