Arugula / Salad Rocket- nutrition, proven health benefits and uses

The scientific name of the rocket include Brassica eruca, and Eruca sativa. It is also known as ArugulaGarden rocketItalian cressMediterranean rocketRucolaRugula,  and Salad rocket.

Other names also include:

CHINESE: Zi ma cai.
FRENCH: Roquette commune, Roquette cultivée, Roquette des jardins.
GERMAN: Ackerrauka, Ölrauke, Rauke, Raukenkohl, Senfrauke.
GREEK: Euzomon.
HEBREW: Gargir.
HINDI: Jamba.
ITALIAN: Ruchetta, Rucola, Rucola comune, Rúcola, Rugula.
JAPANESE: Kibana-suzushiro, Roketsuto, Saradaroketsuto.
PORTUGUESE: Rúgula (Brazil).
SPANISH: rúgula, Arrúgula, Chacuacumba (Mexico), Jazamango, Rábano blanco (Mexico), Rabanillo (Mexico), Roqueta, Rúcula, Zarmao (Mexico).

Arugula is an annual erect herb growing to a height of 2 to 3 feet. Leaves are glabrous or sprarsely pilose pinnatifid, light green when young. Flowers are 1.5 to 2.0 centimeters in diameter, creamy white clawed petals, with purple veins and yellow stamens. Elongated siliques dehisce when dry, splitting to release about 20 seeds.


Arugula nutrition value and facts

– Its culinary use dates back to Ancient Greece.
– Standard table and culinary fare in Italy, Frane, Turkey, and Greece.
– Seeds, flowers, and pods are edible.
– Young leaves are eaten raw or cooked.
– Leaves used as garnish on salads.

A 100 g of rocket has about 25 calories. It has about

carbohydrats 3.65 g,

protein 2.58 g,

total fat 0.66 g,

cholesterol 0 mg,

dietary fiber 1.6 g,

Vitamins: folate 97 µg, niacin 0.305 mg, pantothenic acid 0.437 mg, pyridoxine 0.073 mg, riboflavin 0.086 mg, thiamin 0.044 mg, vitamin C 15 mg, vitamin A 2373 IU, vitamin E 0.43 mg, vitamin K 108.6 µg.

Electrolytes: sodium 27 mg, potassium 369 mg, (4) Minerals: calcium 160 mg, copper 0.076 mg, iron 1.46 mg, magnesium 47 mg, manganese 0.321 mg, phosphorus 52 mg, selenium 0.3 µg, zinc 0.47 mg.

Phytonutrients: carotene-ß 1424 µg, carotene-a 0 µg, lutein-zeaxanthin 3555 µg.

Medicinal properties of salad rocket

– Young leaves are sweet and less peppery compared to the strong, spicy flavor of mature leaves.

– Considered rubefacient, anthelmintic, antiscorbutic.

– Studies suggest antibacterial, antioxidant, hepatoprotective (protects liver ), nephroprotective (protects kidney), anticancer, antiulcer, anti-thrombotic, anti-platelet properties.

Parts used

Leaves, and seeds.

Traditional folk remedies with arugula/rocket

– Used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Historia Naturalis records rocket as an antihelmintic, treatment for eye diseases, and aphrodisiac.

– Ancient rabbinical literature records use of E. vesicaria for stimulation of salivation and improving vision. Various ancient uses recorded for acne, skin diseases, hemorrhoids, and psychological problems; as repellent, expectorant, and deodorant,

– Use as digestive and diuretic.

– Seed oil used as aphrodisiac.

– Used for hair loss.

– Used to treat kidney and skin disorders.

– In Palestine, used for skin and reproductive diseases. For skin disease, ground leaves applied as poultice to affected skin areas.

Scientific proven evidence based health benefits and uses of salad rocket or arugula

Cytotoxic and Genotoxic Effects of Bioactivated Metalloids

Rocket may accumulate toxic elements such as metalloids. Study evaluated the uptake of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and zinc in rocket grown in contaminated soil. Lead, cadmium, and zinc leaf concentrations were over amounts allowed by statutory limit set for metalloid contents in vegetables. In cytotoxicity assays with HL60 human leukemic cells showed the tumoricide activities of rocket decreased with increasing metalloid concentration.

Male Fertility Effects / Leaves

Study evaluated the effect of E. sativa leaves extract male fertility parameters in male albino mice. Results showed a significant (p>0.05) increase in testosterone level, sperm activity, and a significant decrease in sperm mortality and abnormalities. Histological exam showed testicular changes with a significant increase in diameter of seminiferous tubules, spermatid, and leydig cells.

Anti-Platelet / Antithrombotic

Study evaluated the effects of an aqueous extract on human platelets. Results showed E. sativa Mill. AE inhibited P-selectin expression and platelet aggregation by ADP, inhibited the release of platelet inflammatory mediators (IL-1ß, TGF-ß1, CCL5 and thromboxane B2, and inhibited NF-kB activation. In murine modles, ESAE showed significant antithrombotic activity and a slight effect on bleeding time.

Antioxidant / Seed Oil

In  a study of an antioxidant evaluation of seed oil using DPPH free radical scavening assay, the maximum antioxidative potential was exhibited by an aqueous extract with an IC50 of 126.2.


Study evaluated the gastric anti-ulcer properties of E. sativa on experimentally induced gastric secretion and ulceration in albino rats. Results showed E. sativa possesses antisecretory, cytoprotective and anti-ulcer activity attributed to prostaglandin mediation activity and/or through anti-secretory and antioxidant properties.

Erucin / Anticancer

A study found that Erucin (1-isothiocyanato-4-(methylthio)butane), which is metabolically and structurally related to sulforaphane, is present in large quantities in arugula. Erucin inhibits proliferation of MCF7 breast cancer cells (IC50=28 µM) in parallel with cycle arrest at mitosis and apoptosis. The suppression of microtubule dynamics by erucin and the consequent impairment of microtubule-dependent cell functions may be important in its cancer prevention activities.

Flavonoid Compounds / Fresh Leaves / Anticancer

A study in which phytochemical analysis of fresh leaves yielded nine natural flavonoid compounds. Compounds 1 (kaempferol 3-O-(2”-O- malonyl-β-D-glucopy-ranoside)-4′-O-β-D-glucopy-ranoside) and 3 (3-O- glucopyranoside) showed cytotoxic activity in 4 different human cancer cell lines: HepG2 (liver carcinoma), MCF7 (breast carcinoma), HCT116 (colon carcinoma) and Hep2 (larynx carcinoma).

Bio-Protective / Seed Oil / Aflatoxin B1

Study evaluated the efficacy of seed oil to ameliorate the hazardous effect of aflatoxin B1 in male rabbits in relation to its reproductive performance. Results showed E. sativa seed oil ameliorate the harmful effects of aflatoxine, reverting all the abnormal values due to aflatoxicosis back to normal.

Antihepatotoxic / Alcohol Induced Liver Injury/ Protects liver

Study evaluated various extracts of Eruca sativa in ethanol induced liver injury in rats. Results showed both prophylactic and therapeutic effects against experimentally induced liver injury in rats, with the prophylactic effect more potent than therapeutic effect. The activity is attributed to the treatment role against oxidative stress by increasing/maintaining antioxidant molecules and enzymes.

Antioxidant / Protective on Mercury Chloride Renal or kidney Toxicity

Mercury chloride is a known nephrotoxic agent. Study evaluated the antioxidant potential of E. sativa seeds and its protective effect on HgCl(2) induced renal toxicity. The seed extract showed a potent antioxidant effect and significant and dose dependent renal protective effect activity by preventing inflictrion of oxidative damage to the kidney.

• Antibacterial

Study evaluated crude extracts of olive leaves and arugula seeds for in vitro antibacterial activity. Results showed antibacterial actiity, with Staphylococcus aureus being the most sensitive. The arugula seeds extract had higher antibacterial activity than the olive leaves.

• Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Flowers

Study evaluated the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of solvent extract from rocket flowers. Results showed antibacterial efficiency of SERF against both gram+ and gram- bacteria, with a higher inhibition than penicillin. On antioxidant evaluation, SERF showed potent scavenging activity compared to reference curves (BHA and ascorbic acid).

Nephroprotective / Diuretic / Antioxidant

Study evaluated the nephroprotective, diuretic, and antioxidant effects of extracts of Petroleum sativum, Eruca sativa and Curcuma longa herbs in gentamicin-nephrotoxic rats. All three plant extracts exhibited a nephroprotective effect. The extracts also increased urine volume and urinary excretion of Na+ and K+, ameliorated renal tubular necrosis and increased activities of renal antioxidant enzymes in GM-intoxicated rats.

Amelioration of Alloxan Induced Diabetes / Seed Oil

Eruca sativa seed oil was tried as preventive and treatment of diabetes mellitus induced experimental by alloxan injection. ESS oil (0.06 ml/kg) significantly increased hepatic GSH. Daily administration of ESS oil ameliorated hyperglycemia, improved the lipid profile, blunted increase in malondialdehyde and stimulated GSH production in the liver. Study suggested that Eruca sativa seed oil could be used as antidiabetic complement in treatment of DM.

Antigenotoxic / Chemopreventive / Isothiocyanates / Human Hepatoma Cells

Study asessed the chemopreventive potency of extracts of E. sativa in HepG2 cells. E. sativa reduced the benzo(a)pyrene-induced genotoxicity in a U-shaped manner, accompanied by a significant induction of glutathione S. transferase. Chemical analysis yielded isothiocyanates erucin, sulforaphane, erysolin and phenylethyl isothiocyanate . Synergistic interaction is assumed responsible for the plant’s strong genotoxicity.

Interaction with Roquette / Warfarin (Anticoagulant) Resistance

E. sativa, a common salad and herbal treatment ingredient yields 130 µg of vitamin K per 100 g. A recommendation for dietary intake of Vitamin K is 65-80 µg/day. In patients taking warfarin, increased levels of vitamin K can lead to warfarin or anticoagulant resistance.

Improved Skin Barrier Function / Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is associated with skin barrier dysfunction. Study showed treatment for E. sativa extract resulted in a significant increase in transactivation activity of PPAR and suppression in expression of inflammatory cytokine. ES also promoted the expression of filaggrin related to skin barrier protection. Flavonoid constituents, quercetin and isorhamnetin, also promoted PPAR-α activity. Results suggest a potential for improving skiin barrier in atopic dermatitis.


– Arugula is rich in oxalic acid. But in lower content than that in spinach, purslane, mustard greens, celery, etc. Patients suffering from kidneys stones are advised to used arugula sparingly, avoiding regular consumption.

– Allergic reactions, although rare, have been reported, with symptoms ranging from mild (sore lips, throat irritation, stomach cramps) to angioedema (facial swelling) and difficulty of breathing.

Salad rocket Selection and storage tips

Select or buy crispy green color young arugula leaves. Avoid flowered harvest, as its leaves are tough and bitter in taste. Discard any bruised, slump leaves and stems before storage.

Store the herb like other greens (spinach, kale, etc.) at high relative humidity.

Arugula recipe ideas and tips

  • Add young tender rocket leaves to salads, in sandwiches, and burgers.
  • Fresh greens can be used in soups, stews, juices, and cooked as a vegetable.
  • Prepare Italian style arugula pasta with cheese.
  • Enjoy garlic toasts dipped in leek-arugula vichyssoise.
  • Prepare baked arugula chips.

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