Eruca sativa is an edible annual plant, commonly known as salad rocket,rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette and, in the United States, arugula.
It is sometimes conflated with Diplotaxis tenuifolia, known as perennial wall rocket, another plant of the Brassicaceae family that is used in the same manner. Eruca sativa, which is widely popular as a salad vegetable, is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal in the west to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey in the east.The Latin adjective sativa in the plant's binomial is derived from satum, the supine of the verb sero, meaning "to sow", indicating that the seeds of the plant were sown in gardens. Eruca sativa differs from E. vesicaria in having early deciduous sepals.Some botanists consider it a subspecies of Eruca vesicaria: E. vesicaria subsp. sativa.Still others do not differentiate between the two.
Other common names include garden rocket, or more simply rocket (British, Australian, Canadian, South African and New Zealand English), and eruca. The English common name, rocket, derives from the French roquette, a diminutive of the Latin word eruca, which designated an unspecified plant in the Brassicaceae family (probably a type of cabbage).Arugula, the common name now widespread in the United States, entered American English from non-standard (dialect) Italian. (The standard Italian word is rucola, a diminutive of the Latin "eruca"). The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of "arugula" in American English to a 1960 New York Times article by food editor and prolific cookbook writer Craig Claiborne.
Eruca sativa grows 20–100 centimetres (8–39 in) in height. The leaves are deeply pinnately lobed with four to ten small lateral lobes and a large terminal lobe. The flowers are 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) in diameter, arranged in a corymb in typical Brassicaceae fashion; with creamy white petals veined with purple, and with yellow stamens; the sepals are shed soon after the flower opens. The fruit is a siliqua (pod) 12–35 millimetres (0.5–1.4 in) long with an apical beak, and containing several seeds (which are edible). The species has a chromosome number of 2n = 22.
Health Benefits of Arugula
As in other greens, arugula too is one of very low calorie vegetable. 100 g of fresh leaves hold just 25 calories. Nonetheless, it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may immensely benefit health.
Salad rocket has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.
Being a member of Brassica family, arugula leaves are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
Further, di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble metabolite of indole has immune modulator, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase-III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.
Fresh salad rocket is one of greens rich in folates. 100 g of fresh greens contain 97 µg or 24% of folic acid. When given to the anticipant mothers during their conception time, folate may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
Like as in kale, salad rocket is an excellent source of vitamin A. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1424 µg of beta-carotene, and 2373 IU of vitamin A. Carotenes convert into vitamin A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help protect from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.
This vegetable also an excellent sources of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.
Fresh rocket leaves contain good levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Salad rocket is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. In addition, adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain and thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. In addition, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.