Did you know … the potato is the only fresh vegetable that is more popular than lettuce in America? According to the USDA, the average American eats 33 pounds of lettuce a year!
Lettuce is extremely low-calorie and perfect as a weight-loss food. One cup of raw leaf lettuce has only nine calories, one gram of protein and 1.3 grams of fiber. There are dozens of lettuce varieties but these can be categorized into four main types: butterhead, crisphead, looseleaf and romaine. If you want to maximize the health benefits of eating lettuce, choose leaves that are darker in color as they contain more nutrients.
Even though iceberg lettuce is the most popular choice for a salad, it is extremely low in nutrients compared to others. To get the most out of your salads, try adding a few new lettuce varieties to maximize the overall nutritional benefits.
Why lettuce is good for you
Depending on the variety, lettuce is a good source of vitamins C and K, and folate (a form of vitamin B9).
Lettuce also contains potassium (which helps regulate blood pressure), manganese (which helps regulate brain and nerve functions), and copper and iron (which are essential for red blood cell formation).
Choosing the right lettuce
At the grocery store, choose a lettuce that is firm and has crisp leaves. Avoid lettuce with wilted leaves or those that have brown, dark or slimy leaves. Iceberg and butterhead lettuce should feel heavy for their sizes and not have brown or decayed stems.
And, when making a salad, avoid heavier dressings and toppings such as croutons or bacon that are loaded with calories. Instead, top your next salad with fresh vegetables and try a light olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing with a dash of salt and pepper.
Looking for a healthy alternative for lunch?
Try a lettuce wrap. If you replace your tortilla or sandwich bread with lettuce, you’ll increase your daily intake of vitamins and minerals and reduce your calories.