Arugula [Rocket Leaf] During Pregnancy: Safety and Benefits

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Salad greens are a powerhouse of nutrients and offer a host of health benefits. Arugula, also known as rocket leaf, is no exception. But is it always safe to eat arugula during pregnancy?

Arugula is a nutrient-rich food and an excellent source of folic acid, which is essential during pregnancy. However, bagged salad greens can often be a source of bacterial contamination, so be careful when eating out and prep the arugula correctly at home.

Are there any safety precautions to consider before consuming arugula? What other nutrients does it contain that may be beneficial during pregnancy? Let’s dive deeper and explore the safety and benefits of arugula.

Is Arugula Safe During Pregnancy?

Arugula is safe to eat during pregnancy. From a nutritional standpoint, there are no known risks or side effects associated with consuming arugula during pregnancy (source: WebMD).

In fact, arugula is a nutrient-dense food that offers many benefits for pregnant women. However, like any other leafy vegetable, there are some basic practices to follow when preparing arugula.

salad with arugula, tomatoes and mini mozzarella

Before eating any leafy green vegetables, it is important to wash them thoroughly. This will help to remove any dirt, bacteria, or pesticides that may be on the surface. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Listeria and other harmful bacteria can grow on leafy greens, so it is important to take proper precautions (source: CDC).

An example of why this simple precaution is necessary is that in 2011 in the US, there were several outbreaks of listeriosis across 28 states linked to various types of leafy greens (source: Foods Journal).

Once you have washed the arugula, make sure to thoroughly dry it if you don’t plan to consume it immediately. Wet leaves can promote the growth of bacteria. If you are using fresh arugula in a salad, it is also best to chop or tear the leaves into smaller pieces to make them easier to digest.

Even for bagged and “pre-washed” arugula, it is still prudent to wash it again before eating it.

Eating arugula in restaurants is a different story. If you are pregnant and eat out often, make sure to order your salad with arugula from a reputable establishment with good hygiene practices. If you are unsure of the restaurant’s reputation in regard to health and safety standards, it may be best to avoid it altogether.

Arugula is not only for salads,  but can also be used as a healthy pizza topping or an ingredient that is added to omelets or sandwiches to boost the nutritional value. This is all fine to eat too, if it’s been washed first.

Is Arugula a Healthy Pregnancy Choice? The Benefits

Arugula is an excellent choice if you are pregnant as it is packed with essential nutrients for both you and your baby. Here are some of the key nutrients found in arugula and how they can benefit you during pregnancy:

pizza with arugula leaves toppings
  • Folate: Folate is important for the development of the neural tube of your baby (source: CDC). It helps to prevent congenital disabilities of the brain and spine. The recommended daily intake of folate for pregnant women is 400 micrograms. Just one cup of arugula contains 9.7 mcg of folate (source: USDA).
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for the development of your baby’s eyes, skin, and immune system (source: Nutrients Journal). The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for pregnant women is 10,000 UI. One cup of arugula contains 237 IU of vitamin A (source: USDA).
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for pregnant women as it helps to boost the immune system (source: Nutrients Journal). It is also necessary for the absorption of iron. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for pregnant women is 400 mg (source: Oregon State University). Just one cup of arugula contains 1.5 mg of vitamin C (source: USDA).
  • Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance in the body. It is also necessary for muscle contractions (source: Harvard). The recommended daily intake of potassium for pregnant women is 4000 mg (source: Annal of Nutrition and Metabolism Journal). One cup of arugula contains 36.9 mg of potassium (source: USDA).

Arugula is appropriately referred to as “rocket leaf” as it is truly a powerhouse of nutrients. As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it offers numerous health benefits that help you have a healthy pregnancy. There is no reason to shy away from this superfood if you prepare it properly. Instead, consider adding it to your healthy diet for a daily nutritional boost.