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The Secret Superfood - Rocket

I have a LOT of rocket in the garden at the moment, it actually grew by itself from seeds from last year. I deliberately let a plant go to seed and pulled it up and let it sit to dry out so I could keep the seeds for the next year. I let it sit on the brick path by the side of the house, now there is rocket growing like weeds between the bricks by the side of my house where the tiny seeds fell to the ground! Rocket is super easy to grow, and I find that there are relatively few pests that like to eat rocket (maybe because it is quite peppery?).

rocket health benefits

Rocket is a GREAT source of Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc and other important minerals. And according to it is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folate (B9), and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

"...responsible for a range of effects in the body, such as antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective, anti-cancer, anti-ulcer, antisecretory activity..."

Rocket, or ‘Eruca sativa’ is part of the brassica family of vegetables, and is rich in glucosinolates, isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol. These compounds have a profound anti-inflammatory, chemoprotective, and antioxidant effect. The isothiocyanates in rocket are responsible for the peppery taste of and glucosinolates are responsible for the bitter taste, these two compounds are responsible for a range of effects in the body, such as antiplatelet (stops blood clotting when it shouldn’t), anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective, anti-cancer, anti-ulcer, anti-secretory activity... Is there ANYTHING rocket can’t do?!

What is anti-secretory activity? I hear you asking. This refers to a drug or compound that decreases gastric secretions. Antisecretory drugs are commonly used for reflux and heartburn. Research also shows that antisecretory drugs or compounds may also be used to treat IBS-D symptoms [1].

Rocket growing in the garden

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are a family of antisecretory drugs, and chances are that you know someone who is taking a medication like ‘Omeprazole’ or one of the many other drugs that end in ‘…azole’, these are PPIs. PPI medications are among the most commonly sold medications and are sold for acid reflux disorders [2], they’re also used in treating the ulcers caused by frequent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, like ibuprofen. Long term PPI use has also been shown to increase your risk of developing gastric cancer by more than double! And long term NSAID use has been shown to promote gastric ulcers [3,4]…

So, I don’t know if you saw what I did there? - rocket has anti-ulcer properties, anti-inflammatory properties and antisecretory properties, so regular consumption of rocket could eliminate the need for PPI use in those that suffer reflux and heartburn, and combat the ulcer-causing effects of NSAID use, and eliminate the use of NSAIDs for inflammation!

The anti-cancer properties of rocket are down to a few things. Firstly, the inhibition of MCF7 tumour cells, this is particularly important for those who have breast cancer or a family history of breast cancer (genetic predisposition) and wish to reduce their chances of getting breast cancer. And secondly, due to the inhibition of NF-κB. The expression of NF-κB (or overexpression) has been associated with the formation of several types of cancer. NF-κB also negatively affects immune cells that are able to ‘turn off’ cancer development. So, eating rocket can help keep NF-κB in check, inhibit MCF7 tumour cells, and modulate immune function.

Rocket growing in the garden
Rocket growing wild between the pavers

Rocket is also one of the foods highest in nitrates [5]. Nitrates convert to nitric oxide in the body and this can have amazing health benefits on top of those already mentioned. Nitric oxide has been studied extensively and is responsible for a vasodilatory effect, meaning that it widens your blood vessels and increases blood flow. This can, in turn, lower blood pressure, and studies also show that nitrates can slow your metabolism.

Rocket is the under rated superfood in the salad section and regular consumption can help fight and prevent chronic degenerative disease. Get some into your diet, and better still, get some in your garden so you have it on hand whenever you want it!

If you’re looking for ways to tweak you diet to get the most out of your food to target things like inflammation, treating hypertension, blood clotting, bone health, digestive capacity and many others not mentioned here, make an appointment to see us. We offer personalised, tailored diet plans that are evidence based to suit you and your body type. We stay up to date one the latest nutrition and health research, so you don't have to trust 'Dr Google' for your health issues. Online/Skype consults are also available. Book in now and get your health back to where you want it to be.


Ekesbo R, Nilsson PM, Sjölund K. Effects of anti-secretory factor (ASF) on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A double-blind, randomized study. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2008;26(2):106-110. doi:10.1080/02813430802005894

Hálfdánarson ÓÖ, Pottegård A, Björnsson ES, et al. Proton-pump inhibitors among adults: a nationwide drug-utilization study. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2018;11:1756284818777943-1756284818777943. doi:10.1177/1756284818777943

Waldum HL, Sørdal Ø, Fossmark R. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may cause gastric cancer - clinical consequences. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2018;53(6):639-642. doi:10.1080/00365521.2018.1450442

Wang WH, Huang JQ, Zheng GF, Lam SK, Karlberg J, Wong BC-Y. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use and the risk of gastric cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003;95(23):1784-1791. doi:10.1093/jnci/djg106

Hord NG, Tang Y, Bryan NS. Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(1):1-10. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.27131

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