Blast off to good health with these delicious peppery greens. Arugula, also known as rocket, is a sophisticated change from the usual lettuce in any favorite salad recipe, and it’s packed with nutrients that may support healthy fertility.
ARUGULA AT A GLANCE
Serving Size: 1.5 cups (28 g)
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Protein: 1 g
Fiber: 1 g
Vitamin A: 13%
Vitamin C: 7%
Note: The nutritional facts data provided in this chapter are approximations based on the foods’ nutrient value and an adult woman’s RDA.
A mother once told me that she raised her children to eat one green leafy vegetable each day. At first that made me feel sorry for her kids, but after looking into these superfoods a little more, I realized that’s a rule we should all use. Green leafy vegetables are the ultimate superfood. One of the most nutrient-packed vegetables, leafy greens contain amino acids, iron, folate, B vitamins, antioxidants, and countless other nutrients that not only help your body function properly but also help fight off disease. So arugula is not just a great addition to your fertility diet but also a great addition throughout your pregnancy and postpartum diets.
Leaves of Haute Culture
You’ll just love the spicy flavor of arugula as well as its dark green color and beautiful shape. It makes a gorgeous salad and goes well with less common salad ingredients, such as grapefruit or orange sections. Thanks to the increased interest in haute cuisine in North America, arugula is now readily available in most grocery stores.
Always look for the freshest arugula; it should be dark green and lush. Avoid buying arugula that’s even beginning to turn yellow or limp. For one thing, it’s amazing how a package of baby arugula leaves can look a little pale one day and be a browned, mushy mess the next. Not to mention that aging leaves contain few nutrients and simply taste terrible. There is no need to eat things that might upset your stomach, particularly as you continue to eat arugula into your first trimester, when morning sickness can occur.
A man’s ideal meal may not be a pretty salad of arugula with a few slices of pink grapefruit and some red onion, but put your masculine pride aside, boys, and dig in. Arugula is a good source of folate. In one and a half cups of arugula, there are 30 mcg of folate. Folate is an important nutrient that’s needed for male fertility. If masculine pride is on the table, then let’s discuss the potential effect folate has on a man’s ability to produce sperm with the best genetics.
Jonny’s Tasty Tips
Is arugula an aphrodisiac? Well, that’s what the ancient Egyptians and Romans thought. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it’s the überfood of nutritional bargains: Not only is it packed with vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, one cup contains a whopping 5 calories. (Yes, you read that right: 5 calories.)
If you haven’t tasted arugula, you are in for one fabulous treat. Those little leaves pack a big, spicy flavor and a rich, meaty texture that will make your mouth water. (Some of my vegetarian friends get their “meat fix” from arugula.) Arugula’s outsized flavor helps it stand up to bold ingredients in a salad, whether you like yours with citrus, almonds, and shaved Parmesan (try a dressing of lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil on this) or anchovies, feta, and kalamata olives (with a classic Greek dressing or a simple olive oil–balsamic vinegar mix). Or try this favorite: a bed of arugula topped with grilled portobello mushrooms and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your favorite marinade. (Don’t be afraid to experiment; you’d be amazed what ginger or tamari can do here.) And arugula can give a much-needed flavor boost to milder salad greens as well.
But arugula’s not just for salads. You can use it any way you’d use spinach: Just wilted in the water it’s washed in and served with a splash of balsamic vinegar; sautéed in a little olive oil with minced onion or garlic; or added to omelets, soups, or lentil stew (it’s great in black bean soup and as a topping for refried beans, too.)
Healthy sperm is vital to conception. Most importantly, the genetic material a sperm contains needs to be perfect. When a sperm does not contain a perfect amount of genetic material (chromosomes), it is called aneuploidy. Little is known about the effect of paternal nutrition on aneuploidy in sperm. Researchers from the University of California reported in 2008 on a study that involved 89 healthy, nonsmoking men to see if what they ate affected the health of their sperm’s genetic makeup. They found that the men who consumed more folate had fewer sperm with genetic problems.
Arugula is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, arugula contains 15 mg of choline. This nutrient is not well known, but it is vital to your baby’s growth and health. Choline is important for early development because it plays a role in brain development. A bone-building bonanza, arugula contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. All of these nutrients help ensure that your bones are strong and healthy. This is important as you start your pregnancy since your baby needs a lot of calcium and minerals from your body in order to grow. Stock up now to make sure your bones aren’t depleted of these important minerals once your baby starts to grow.