Why Your Birds Should Try Arugula
I love arugula! I can't get enough of it and it works so well with various salads and toppings for our meals. I've seen it served in salads and even as a pizza topping. Eat it raw or cooked — it's quite versatile. It works well as a substitute for lettuce in sandwiches and it's quite pretty as a garnish.
But how is it for birds? I use a wide variety of greens in my African greys' meals: Swiss chard, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, kale, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and purple cabbage. On occasion, I'll get fancy and throw in some cut-up Brussels sprouts.
If I come across a nice looking haul of arugula at the market, I'll pop that in their batch of Chop as well, especially if it's organic.
If you've never tasted arugula you must try it. It's similar to watercress in flavor in that it has a spicy and fresh taste. Almost peppery in flavor, once you taste it, you can understand why perhaps some of our parrots might enjoy it. Its intense flavor seems to elevate the foods it is paired with and makes the rest of the meal that much more "muchier," to quote the Mad Hatter. I think the tang and spiciness appeal to them. After all, if they can handle jalapeño peppers, arugula is a walk in the park.
Sometimes called rocket, salad rocket, garden rocket, roquette, rucola, rugula, colewort, arugula is similar in appearance to dandelion greens. It's commonly eaten in the Middle East, Brazil, and India.
But where it really rocks is how good it is for you and your birds.
Arugula is high in calcium, Vitamins K, A, and C, potassium and it contains phytochemicals, which are known to fight carcinogens in the body. It has substantial fiber and has a nice smack of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll, also referred to as "liquid sunshine," it's thought to be a blood cleanser, a detoxifier and helps heal disease in the body.
Nutrients sometimes have difficulty getting absorbed from the food we eat because of compounds that disrupt the absorption process. Oxalate is one of these compounds. You can find oxalate in many of the green leafy vegetables such as spinach. The problem with oxalate is that it can reduce calcium absorption. When you feed spinach and other foods that contain this ingredient, it might block calcium absorption.
Fortunately, arugula is lower in oxalates than spinach other leafy greens. And as Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."
Other good things about arugula are that it is low in calories, has a nice dose of antioxidants, and essential minerals and of course with all of that fiber, it keeps the digestive system nicely ticking along.
And the interesting thing about arugula as with many other healthy foods you bring into your kitchen for your flock, is that if is around, you just might eat it too. Try arugula. You just might like it. And I'll bet your parrots just might like it too.
Photo Credit: Argula by Tim Sackton/Flickr
Loved this article and want to get more like it? Then subscribe to Bird Talk Magazine! This bimonthly magazine features articles on all aspects of pet birds, including health, nutrition and lifestyle.