Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! After two snow storms in less than a week, I’m officially ready for warm weather and spring! So today let’s continue our Leafy Recipe Series by talking about the leafy green, arugula.
Arugula is another powerhouse vegetable that is amazing for you. Arugula has many health benefits to add to your diet such as: assisting in immune system function, protecting our heart and decreasing the impact diabetes has on the body.
Arugula also contains these helpful nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Antioxidant Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Vitamin A is necessary for human growth and development, cell recognition, sight, proper immune system function, sexual reproduction, as well as helping the heart, lungs, and kidneys to function normally. While Vitamin A sounds like a miracle, be careful how much you take. If you ingest too much it can be harmful to the body. Most doctors recommend that adult men consume 900 mcg per day, and women take 700 mcg per day to stay within healthy levels.
As you may know, arugula is a fantastic source of Vitamin C, which is an important nutrient linked to immune system health. Having a strong immune system helps the body ward off illness or recover faster from sickness. Which is especially important now that cold weather seems to be here to stay for most parts of America.
Vitamin C is also great for the heart. In a research study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of 126,399 adults were examined over the course of many years to reveal that for every serving of fruits and vegetables a person consumed, there was a 4% reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease. The study also pointed out that leafy green vegetables, and foods high in Vitamin C, had the largest positive impact.
Other studies have found that activities such as daily walking, combined with arugula intake, can reduce blood pressure. So if you are concerned about your heart health talk to your doctor about adding arugula to your healthy lifestyle diet.
Vitamin C also increases iron absorption in the body, so if you suffer from an iron deficiency or anemia, then arugula might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a papercut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
Calcium is the essential mineral everyone was taught as a kid would help us build strong bones. And you are right in remembering that from 3rd grade science. Calcium is vital for the health of our bones, and for slowing down bone density loss as we age. The mineral calcium also impacts the muscle that surrounds blood vessels, causing it to relax. Which is important for blood pressure and muscle contraction. Just remember, it is difficult for the body to effective absorb calcium without the presence of Vitamin D in the body, so be sure to have an adequate source of Vitamin D in your diet to maximize the effects of calcium.
And you may not know that arugula contains a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Science is also starting to show that diets rich in antioxidants have a positive effect on cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. While these illnesses currently have no known cure, diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can lower the risk of developing these diseases later in life.
However, arugula contains a special antioxidant called Alpha-lipoic acid that is perfect for lowering blood glucose levels, increasing insulin sensitively and prevents changes from oxidative stress that are all common in people living with diabetes. Science on this antioxidant is showing that consuming arugula also decreases nerve damage associated with having diabetes, which is great news for individuals wanting to avoid the long term peripheral and autonomic nerve damage that often results from this disease.