With its characteristic spicy and pungent taste, rocket is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals. Digestive and diuretic, rocket has many beneficial properties for the body that are worth knowing. Let’s explore them together.
Arugula is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family (Cruciferae), the same as cabbage and broccoli. It is native to the Mediterranean area, where it grows spontaneously.
In fact, there are two types of rocket: the cultivated one, whose scientific name is Eruca Sativa, and the wild one (Diplotaxis tenuifolia). The plants are similar, but they differ in flavor, color and leaves. The wild rocket is a perennial plant, it has a stronger flavor, the leaves are elongated and jagged while the flowers are of an intense yellow color.
Cultivated rocket is an annual plant, has a less intense flavor and features white flowers and wider, rounded leaves at the top. Arugula is grown in spring and has a very short life cycle, as the leaves are harvested a few weeks after sowing. Both types have numerous nutritional properties. Let’s explore them in detail.
Rocket: calories and nutritional values Arugula has few calories (25 calories per 100 g of food), therefore ideal to be consumed during the diet, has a high content of water, minerals, vitamins and is rich in antioxidants, which counteract free radicals and exert an action preventive against oncological problems. The fiber content is also good while the fat and carbohydrate content is low. Let’s see what its nutritional values are.
Nutritional values per 100g of rocket:
- Waterfall: 91.71 gr
- kcal: 25
- Proteins: 2.58 gr
- Fat: 0.66 gr
- Fibers: 1.6 gr
- Carbohydrates: 3.65 gr
- Soccer: 160 mg
- Magnesium: 47 mg
- Potassium: 369 mg
- Phosphorus: 52 mg
- Iron: 1.46 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.044 mg (3.1% RDA)
- Vitamin B2: 0.086 mg (5.4% RDA)
- Vitamin B3: 0.305 mg (1.7% RDA)
- Vitamin B5: 0.437 mg (7.3% RDA)
- Vitamin B6: 0.073 mg (3.7% RDA)
- Folate: 97 µg (48.5% RDA)
- C vitamin: 15 mg (25% RDA)
- Vitamin A: 117 µg (14.9% RDA)
- Beta-Carotene: 1424 µg
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin: 3555 µg
- Vitamin K: 108.6 µg (155.1% RDA)
- Glycemic index: 15
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Rocket: nutritional properties
The rocket is rich in essential elements for the correct functioning of various cellular processes and important for the protection of the organism from various aggressions. Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium are the most present minerals, while the most abundant vitamins are vitamin C and vitamin K together with folate. The rocket also has an excellent content of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Calcium: rocket has a good content of calcium, a mineral which is a fundamental constituent of bones and teeth, therefore its adequate intake is important for the health of the bone system and for the structure of the teeth. Calcium is also essential for heart and muscle health;
- Magnesium: A deficiency of this mineral can lead to nervousness, insomnia and muscle cramps. This is because magnesium intervenes in processes such as the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction;
- Potassium: this mineral lowers blood pressure, facilitating the elimination of excess fluids and therefore counteracting water retention and cellulite. It is involved, like magnesium, in the transmission of nerve impulses and in the process of muscle contractility. It is also important for regulating heart rate and pH;
- Vitamin K: mainly has an anti-haemorrhagic function, but also protects the bone system and regulates the inflammatory response;
- Beta-carotene: this element protects cells from free radicals, thanks to its powerful antioxidant action. It represents the precursor of vitamin A or Retinol, which is essential for correct visual function and intervenes in the processes of cellular growth and repair;
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: present in the retina, these two antioxidants protect the eyes from the damaging effects of light radiation.
Arugula: health benefits
Consuming rocket offers several health benefits. Let’s now explore this aspect, analyzing in detail all the properties of this food.
✓ It is remineralizing
Thanks to the important content of mineral salts, the consumption of rocket is ideal for replenishing the salts lost through summer sweating or after physical activity. Unlike other green leafy vegetables, rocket does not contain many oxalates, a substance that hinders the absorption of minerals.
✓ Has digestive function
Arugula has digestive properties as it has some antioxidant compounds that can protect the liver and, consequently, improve the entire digestive process. In addition, served as an appetizer, rocket is able to stimulate the appetite.
✓ Lower your blood pressure
The consumption of rocket counteracts hypertension as the potassium contained in it favors the elimination of excess fluids, balancing blood pressure.
✓ Useful in cancer prevention
This action is possible thanks to the good amount of antioxidants present in rocket such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin but also flavonoids and isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane.
✓ Strengthens nails and bones
The calcium contained in arugula can help strengthen the structure of nails and bones. Furthermore, as we have seen above, vitamin K has a protective action on the bone system.
✓ Excellent during pregnancy
As we have seen, rocket is rich in folate, which, transforming into folic acid, plays a preventive action against fetal malformations and is useful for the correct growth of the child.
✓ Detoxifies the body
The high water and mineral content and the presence of fibers give the rocket detoxifying properties, thus helping to expel toxins and harmful substances from the liver and kidneys.
✓ It is protective against the ulcer
A study showed that a rocket extract was effective in mice to inhibit acid secretion and instead stimulate the production of mucus that protects the stomach walls, thus preventing ulcer development. The effect would be due to the antioxidants present in rocket and prostaglandins with an anti-inflammatory effect.
✓ Has a relaxing function
If taken as an infusion, rocket has relaxing properties and is recommended to promote good sleep. It is in fact part of some “evening herbal teas”.
How much rocket can you eat per day
A standard serving of green leafy vegetables, and therefore also rocket, is about 80g, which is equivalent to a large bowl. Despite this, in consideration of the contraindications and negative effects of excessive consumption of rocket, as often happens in nutrition, the fundamental rule is not to exaggerate in quantities but to include rocket in a healthy and balanced diet. In any case, a quantity of 30 grams is already sufficient to guarantee us most of the benefits of this vegetable, without the risk of running into gastric problems.
Rocket: how to use and consume it
To make the most of the properties of rocket, we recommend consuming it fresh and well washed. Buy only rocket with deep green leaves and never yellowed.
In general, it should be consumed fresh and after having been well washed, because it is in direct contact with the ground. To keep it in the fridge it is necessary to wash it and keep it in a paper bag after having dried it well. It can be used as a salad, or as an ingredient for pesto and sauces, but also as an herbal tea.
The infusion of rocket can be used to promote relaxation, just put 6 rocket leaves in a cup of boiling water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. To reduce the bitter taste of the rocket, we recommend adding a teaspoon of chamomile flowers.
A recipe for a tasty first course based on rocket: chop the almond, walnut and pine nut mortar, add garlic and well washed rocket. Beat until a cream is reached, adding extra virgin olive oil. At this point, just boil the spaghetti and dress them with this original rocket pesto.
Rocket and wild rocket: the differences
As we anticipated at the beginning, the “traditional” rocket and the wild rocket (also called wild rocket) belong to the same family but are two different species (respectively Eruca Sativa and Diplotaxis tenuifolia), in fact, even if they have the same nutritional characteristics, the wild rocket is distinguished by the narrower and tapering leaf, a more tenacious consistency and a very pungent and more bitter taste. Conversely, cultivated rocket has larger, softer leaves and a less intense flavor, the latter characteristic making it more pleasing even to the most demanding palates.
Rocket: contraindications and potential negative effects
The consumption of rocket has no particular contraindications, except of course in allergic subjects. It is always good not to consume too much, because it could have irritating effects, especially on the gastrointestinal system. It is not recommended for those who take anticoagulant drugs (due to the high content of vitamin K), for those suffering from stones and kidney failure. Finally, due to its content in glucosinolates, rocket could interfere with the thyroid absorption of iodine, therefore, in case of hypothyroidism this food should be consumed in moderation.