The key to healthy aging is healthy eating. When you make your next salad, be sure to add lots of arugula - also known as Rocket, or Eruca sativa - that’s because a research team from Saudi Arabia have found that an extract of this salad green has tremendous gastric ulcer fighting properties.

An estimated 20 million Americans experience at least one stomach ulcer during their lifetime. Every year about 40,000 people undergo surgery because of stomach ulcers - and 6,000 people die of complications from this condition in the US alone.

Although medications called proton-pump inhibitors are widely used for treatment, they do not cure the disease. In fact when they’re used long term, they can result in many adverse health effects.

In the current study, investigators used albino rats that had experimentally induced gastric ulcers. They then administered an extract of arugula at a dose of 250 and 500 mg/kg of body weight.

The study results showed that the Arugula extract significantly reduced gastric acid secretion and ulceration. It also significantly replenished gastric wall mucus, along with raising the levels of two other naturally made substances that are important for the health of the stomach lining.

These researchers believe arugula’s anti-ulcer powers are the results of its ability to manage the activity of a group of natural compounds known as prostaglandins, which help to protect gastric wall mucus.

Another reason arugula is one of the keys to healthy aging is because it contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals which would otherwise damage healthy cells.

Last but not least, arugula also has anti-secretory abilities - which means it can prevent gastric acid secretion that can cause damage to the stomach wall.

Rocket or Eruca sativa is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and radishes.

This salad green has an ancient reputation in Ayurvedic and Arab traditional medicine and European populations for its therapeutic qualities, including the ability to fight cancer and ulcers and to protect the liver from damage.