Arugula, also known as rucola, belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and it is characterized by a tangy peppery kick. Other plants, which belong to this family are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout and radishes. Like this plants, arugula has numerous medicinal properties.
Arugula is rich in vitamin A, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and manganese. In addition, it also contain high levels of protein, riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and copper.
Moreover, it contains flavonoids, which enhance the function of the blood vessels, improves the blood flow, reduces high blood pressure and soothes inflammation. Arugula also contains cleansing properties, which eliminate the harmful effects of the heavy metals in the body, especially in the liver. It gets rid of herbicides and pesticides from the body, too.
Arugula has been regarded as an aphrodisiac, containing antioxidants and minerals that hinder the absorption of environmental toxins, which affect the libido.
ARUGULA IS BENEFICAL FOR THE HEART
Arugula has 480 mg of nitrates a serving, which the human body uses to create NO (nitric oxide), an essential biological molecule, which protects the mitochondria and enhances the function of the endothelium.
Nitric oxide acts a vasodilator, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels, thus enhancing proper blood flow and tissue oxygenation. It also eliminates carbon dioxide and waste from the body. A nitrate-rich diet is beneficial for treating hypertension and pre-hypertension and lowers the risk of heart attacks.
Due to their high content of nitrite, raw beets are known to be the most beneficial in reducing high blood pressure.
However, arugula is the richest vegetable in nitrate.
OTHER BENEFITS OF ARUGULA
Eating fruits and vegetables have been related to a lowered risk of numerous health issues. Studies have shown that the consumption of arugula lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion, weight loss and increased energy. Some other benefits of arugula include:
• It fights against cancer
• It prevent osteoporosis
• It treats diabetes
• It improves athletic performance
• It improves skin, bone, heart health
• It improves eye vision
• It improves digestion
• It reduces infections and skin inflammation
HOW TO GROW ARUGULA?
Arugula is grown in the fall. However, it can put up with frost and low-fertile soil and it is very easy to grow. Arugula seeds are best germinated at temperature of 40⁰ – 55⁰ F. One thing you should avoid while planting arugula is to plant it in a place where you have harvested a crop from the same family.
There are two types of arugula. The first type is the wild Italian arugula, which has a bold taste, whereas the second type is the common arugula, which is used for both cooking and eating.
You should plant the arugula seeds at a depth of ¼ inch, an inch apart. Make the rows to be 3 inches apart. Arugula seeds are expected to sprout from 10 – 14 days. If you are planning to harvest arugula constantly, you should plant 2 arugula seeds every second week. Bolting will be enhanced by hot, dry weather. In order to slow down bolting, you can provide shade and prevent the soil to dry.
HOW TO PROTECT ARUGULA FROM PESTS?
Flea beetle is the most common pest that attacks cabbage family. In order to protect seedlings, you can use row covers. Another method you can use is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth near the seedlings. However, one disadvantage of diatomaceous earth is that it gets rid of all insects, like beets and worms.
Another measure that you can use is the Reemay fabric, which can be used as a row cover. It provides 75 % of sunlight and due to its permeability; it lets water through, but not pests. You can easily cover the plants with the fabric.
HARVESTING AND CONSUMING
You can eat arugula after 40 days of planting it. When you pick up arugula leaves, you should pick them from different plants. If the leaf is smaller, its flavor will be milder. Also, you can cut the largest leaves of bunches with shears. The rest of the leaves will regenerate and grow again.
When the arugula begins to flower, it will have a bitter taste. Then, all you have to do is to remove the plant with its roots. The arugula bolts quickly, so make sure you harvest it when you notice flowers. In order to prevent arugula leaves to turn wilt, you should harvest it when it is shadier and cooler.
Arugula is a green salad, which can be added to numerous dishes, like pesto and sandwiches.
HOW TO SAVE ARUGULA SEEDS?
You can easily collect and save the seeds, which can be stored for five years. The arugula produces tiny and white flowers. When flowers appear seed pods start to form on the stem. Seeds have a strong kick, like a radish. When the arugula bolts, its leaves turn brown and bitter.
You can collect arugula seeds in many ways. You can cover the arugula stem with nylon to take its seeds when the pots open. Also you can put a paper back on the stem and wait until it dries. You can shake the pot to see if the seeds can be collected. If the seeds are collected in a bag, you can stick the hand in the bag or shake it to crumble the dried seeds.
You will get dark seeds mixed with seed pot chaff. In order to separate them pour them in a pan and slowly blow the chaff. Also you can pour them in a sieve, which has bigger holes than the seeds and to shake it. Then, store the seeds in a jar or paper in dark and cool spot. In addition you can store them in a bag in the fridge.
TRY ARUGULA MICROGREENS
An easy way to increase nutrition is to grow microgreens. Every vegetable or herb, including arugula, can be transformed in a microgreen by harvesting it. You should not wait the arugula to mature. The microgreens are harvested after 1 – 2 weeks or when it is 2 – 4 inches high.
The numerous benefits of microgreens and sprouts are that they contain high amounts of nutrients. Sprouted food contains vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C and b-complex. They also provide bioactive compounds, which improve some functions of the body and lower the risk of experiencing diseases.