Wild rocket leaves, also known as arugula, salad rocket, or rucola, is a Mediterranean green vegetable. The vegetable is a part of the Brassicaceae family, which also include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. The leaves are dark green with an intense peppery aroma and flavor. Wild rocket leaves are a popular vegetable in Italy, French, and parts of North America. This vegetable is traditionally consumed raw because of its delicate nature, however, the strong taste makes them a good ingredient for pizza toppings or salads.
Here Are 15 of Wild Rocket Leaves Health Benefits
Besides being used as a food ingredient, wild rocket leaves have also been exploited for its medicinal uses. The vegetable has a long history of medicinal application because of its ability to prevent multiple diseases, treat many conditions and improve health in general.
1. Helps Manage Weight
If you are on a mission to lose some weight, wild rocket leaves can be an alternative for your healthy lifestyle staples. Like other dark leafy greens, wild rocket leaves contain a low level of calories. As a result, this vegetable can be an excellent choice for people who are following certain diet programs to achieve a healthy body weight. The calories in wild rocket leaves are so low that consuming two-cup serving will only give you 8 calories in total. Hence, eating a lot of these vegetables will not have any impact on your daily calorie intake and will not affect your weight loss program negatively. On the other hand, you can use these leaves to make yourself feel full without actually adding significant calories to your diet.
2. Packed With A Lot of Nutrients
While low in calories, wild rocket leaves packed a substantial amount of important nutrients like minerals and vitamins. In fact, according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, or ANDI, which is a tool to rank foods based on their density of nutrients, wild rocket leaves are considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. This tool analyzes the number of foods’ micronutrients when compared to its calorie content. The result showed that wild rocket leaves belonged in the top 10 of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods. What does it mean? It means you can reduce your calorie intake by consuming wild rocket leaves without having to scarify the nutrients that you consume.
3. Improves Vision Health
Some nutrients found in wild rocket leaves may boost vision health. In fact, the vegetable is an excellent source of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is easy to be converted by your body into vitamin A. For each 2-cup serving of carotenoid, raw wild rocket leaves will supply you with 19% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A if your body needs a 2.000-calorie diet. Vitamin A is a very vital micronutrient for your vision’s health. It promotes a good eyesight, especially during night time. This is because vitamin A is an essential nutrient to help your eyes to be able to see with minimum lights.
Moreover, the other two carotenoids in wild rocket leaves, zeaxanthin, and lutein, are also very important for a good vision. Zeaxanthin and lutein can be important in helping your body protect against macular degeneration that is age-related. This type of degeneration is what makes many elderly people experience blindness. People with macular degeneration who take enough zeaxanthin and lutein in the forms of the supplement will have a better chance at avoiding the advanced stage of degeneration as they age. Because of this, consuming this vegetable can be very important in avoiding age-related macular degeneration.
4. Controls Blood Pressure
Wild rocket leaves contain three kinds of minerals that play their parts in keeping the blood pressure low: potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The plant is not the number one source for potassium, yet the mineral is an added benefit when you consume wild rocket leaves regularly. A 2-cup serving of wild rocket leaves gives your body approximately 150 micrograms of this mineral. Potassium is one of the key minerals that help lower your blood pressure by creating a balance to fight the effect of salt. Your kidneys need potassium to pull the water or extra fluid in your body and take it out of your system through the bladder. This act helps to regulate the amount of fluid in your body that can spike your blood pressure.
Besides potassium, magnesium and calcium can also lower the level of blood pressure in your body. Magnesium keeps the blood pressure of hypertension patients and high-risk people under control by preventing the constriction of blood vessels. Blood pressure constriction can increase blood pressure which is the cause of hypertension. Wild rocket leaves will be a good natural supplement to prevent magnesium deficiency.
5. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
The combination of nutrients in wild rocket leaves that makes the vegetable a good agent at fighting high blood pressure also plays an important role in keeping your heart healthy. Having a constantly high blood pressure increases the risk of heart diseases. This is because high blood pressure puts excess strain that causes damage to the coronary arteries. The arteries may also become narrower because of the buildup of plaque. This leads to a condition known as atherosclerosis. As the plaque gets thicker and arteries get harder, the flow of blood is disrupted. The heart will not receive enough supply of oxygen and nutrients. The heart muscle that is starved of oxygen will be damaged and this is usually when a heart attack occurs.
Wild rocket leaves control the levels of your blood pressure so it also reduces the risk of heart attack. Moreover, it is also a source of folate which is an important mineral for your metabolism. A folate deficiency can cause an elevated level of homocysteine. When your body has too much homocysteine, your risk of suffering from heart diseases will increase.
6. Protects Your Body Against Cancer
There are substances in various cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, watercress, brussels sprout, broccoli, and wild rocket leaves that offer protection against cancer. These vegetables are rich in glucosinolates, the compounds that cause the peppery flavor in leafy greens. The sulfur-containing compounds help your body fight cancer by getting rid of the carcinogens before it affects your DNA. Moreover, glucosinolates also inhibit and even stops the growth of hormone-related cancers. While more research needs to be carried out on this subject, some studies have demonstrated that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables regularly can reduce the risk of developing lung and colorectal cancers.
In addition, wild rocket leaves are also an excellent source of flavonols which is a type of flavonoid. While more research is also needed, various studies have shown that flavonoids demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
7. Helps Body Detoxification
Wild rocket leaves can also effectively detoxify the body. This is because the leaves contain a lot of antioxidants that can significantly improve the value of oxygen absorbance capacity. Antioxidants can help seeking out and eradicating free radicals and maintaining a perfect balance of cells’ enzyme reactions. This will also destroy harmful toxins and dangerous substance in your body. Since the free radicals and toxins are purged from your system, your body will be healthier and you will be protected against diseases. You will also have clearer, more radiant, and youthful skin.
8. Improves Bone Health
Wild rocket leaves are rich in vitamin K, a micronutrient which contributes a lot to heart and bone’s health. Vitamin K stimulates a bone formation activity in human’s cells. In osteoporotic people, high intake of vitamin K can increase the mineral density of the bones. Moreover, taking vitamin K sufficiently can also reduce the risks of fracture. When vitamin K and D are taken synergistically, both can work better to improve bone density, preventing osteoporosis in the first place. This doesn’t even need to be taken in high dose when consumed together, as vitamin k will modulate the bone metabolism. The vitamin also positively influences the calcium balance, which is the most important mineral in bone formation and metabolism.
Everybody is at risk of suffering from osteoporosis as they get older. The loss of bone mass will reduce your ability to function in daily lives and to be productive, thus, it’s better to prevent the condition as early as possible. The presence of vitamin K in wild rocket leaves makes the vegetables a perfect addition to an anti-osteoporosis diet. Moreover, the presence of many other important minerals in the vegetables will help support healthy bones.
9. Boosts Immunity
As a plant which is rich in antioxidants, along with other important vitamin and minerals, wild rocket leaves also boost the defense of your body. Vitamin C and other antioxidants in wild rocket leave actively seek out and destroy dangerous free radicals before they cause an inflammatory reaction which leads to real damage to your body. As a result, your body is more protected against cancer and other diseases. The vitamin is present in large quantities in wild rocket leaves so you won’t have to take vitamin C supplements.
Moreover, wild rocket leaves also contain copper which stimulates the creation of white blood cells. White blood cells are your number one defense against contagious diseases caused by viruses and foreign agents that attack your body. With a healthy white blood cells count, your body will have a stronger immune system against diseases.
10. Improve Mineral Absorption
Oxalate is a naturally occurring molecule which is present in a lot of leafy vegetables. High level of oxalate is bad for your body because it binds minerals like calcium, causing your body to suffer from certain mineral deficiency. When you eat a diet high in minerals like iron and copper, which are actually abundant in plants, but also consume vegetables with a high level of oxalates like spinach, the diet will be counterproductive as the mineral absorption is inhibited. Because of this, consuming food sources which are rich in vitamins in minerals, but also low in oxalate level, just like wild rocket leaves, is better for your body and its system.
11. Prevents Kidney Stones
High oxalate diet can lead to severe problems like kidney stones. Each food we eat travels through our digestive tract to be processed by the digestive enzymes. After the nutrients absorbed by your body to use in the metabolism system, the rest of the food passes out as the stool. As the food passes the intestines, the calcium is bound by the oxalate. The mineral is mostly excreted along with the stool. However, when your body has too much oxalate because of high oxalate diet, the oxalate that goes through the kidneys can bind enough minerals to cause kidney stones. In fact, one of the most common types of kidney stones in the world is calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Adopting a diet with a low level of oxalates will reduce the risk of developing this particular type of kidney stone. Because wild rocket leaves are low in oxalates, you can use the vegetable to substitute other high-oxalate leaf vegetables on your plates.
12. Promotes Healthy Digestion
Constipation is one of the most common results of a bad diet which leads to unhealthy digestion. When the food you eat doesn’t contain enough fiber, it will usually cause a problem in bowel movements. High levels of dietary fiber can add bulk to the stool and make it easier to pass through the digestive system and get excreted. Wild rocket leaves contain a lot of fiber that can ease the bowel movement and prevent constipation before it leads to a more serious problem like hemorrhoid. When you start having problems with your digestion, you can add wild rocket leaves in your diet.
13. Reduces The Risk of Diabetes
The alpha lipoic acids that present in wild rocket leaves play an important part in maintaining your overall health. Besides playing a role as an antioxidant that fights free radicals, it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin and stabilize your level of blood sugar. This is the reason diabetic and prediabetic patients will be greatly benefited by consuming wild rocket leaves regularly. If you want to maintain a healthy level of blood sugar, you should add this vegetable to your daily diet.
14. Decreases The Level of Bad Cholesterol
The low-density lipoprotein is the type of cholesterol which affects our body negatively. Wild rocket leaves have the ability to decrease the level of LDL cholesterol in the body while also improves the level of high-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterols. When the cholesterol level in your body rises, you will have a higher risk of suffering from dangerous health problems, including strokes and heart attacks.
15. Prevents Anemia
The presence of iron in wild rocket leaves is very beneficial for your body to fight anemia. Iron is an important mineral that develops red blood cells that carry oxygen to each cell of your body. When your body doesn’t receive enough oxygen, you will suffer from symptoms of anemia. The most common type of anemia is caused by iron deficiency. Making wild rocket leaves a part of your diet will prevent this.