We've got three good reasons to keep lettuce on your plate. The information below comes from www.lettuceinfo.org which is managed by our sister organization California LGMA. This year Arizona LGMA will also be contributing information to this great resource on everything you need to know about lettuce.
1. Nutritional Value of Lettuce
The nutritional value of lettuce is particularly high because lettuce is such a low-calorie food. When compared to its caloric content, the nutritional density of lettuce is extremely high.
While the exact amounts of nutrients vary from one variety to another, all types of lettuce provide numerous nutrients, including:
Folate (Vitamin B9)
While most people know that vitamin D is essential for the body to utilize calcium and build healthy bones, they don’t know that vitamin K is its secret partner. The two vitamins work together to help the body use calcium and build strong, healthy bones. There is evidence that even relatively small amounts of the vitamin K1 contained in lettuce can work with vitamin D to increase bone density and reduce your risk of bone fracture.
Plus, vitamin K helps produce proteins necessary for proper blood clotting. Lettuce is extremely rich in vitamin K. Some varieties have as much as half of your recommended daily value in a one-cup serving.
Vitamin A has numerous positive health effects. It can help reduce your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. In addition, vitamin A is critical for eye health. Vitamin A helps reduce your risk of night blindness, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the US. Plus, vitamin A helps your body produce skin oils that help you maintain healthy skin and lustrous hair.
Vitamin A from lettuce comes in the form of beta carotene, which the body can easily turn into active vitamin A as necessary. Unlike taking vitamin A supplements, there’s no risk of getting too much vitamin A from lettuce.
A cup of some varieties of lettuce has more than 20% of your recommended daily value of vitamin A.
While the orange and other citrus are the poster-fruits for vitamin C, lettuce can also supply this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage by free radicals. This can reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Vitamin C also contributes to collagen production. Collagen is not only necessary for wound healing, it’s a vital protein for maintaining skin elasticity, helping you maintain your healthy, youthful skin.
In addition, vitamin C supports your body’s immune system and helps you extract iron from vegetables.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
Folate is a vital nutrient for women during pregnancy. It can lower the risk of birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine, which is why folate supplements are recommended. In addition, lettuce is a healthy source of additional folate.
Folate also helps the body produce red blood cells so you can reduce your anemia risk.
When you mention potassium, people often think bananas, but lettuce is also very high in potassium. Potassium is a necessary mineral for nerve function. It’s important to maintain a balance between potassium and sodium. With modern high-salt diets, you should have a source of potassium in your meals, too.
Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce provides numerous health benefits. Lettuce:
Encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables
Is a low-calorie food
Promotes heart health
Reduces the risk of cancer
Helps prevent bone loss
Promotes eye health
Promotes healthy skin and hair
Promotes healthy pregnancy
Promotes immune health
One of the best benefits of lettuce is that it encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Lettuce is the backbone of most salads, which also include numerous other fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that different kinds of lettuces and leafy greens have varying nutritional content. So, while iceberg lettuce may be less nutritionally dense than darker leafy green like spinach or kale, iceberg offers a neutral flavor and satisfying crunch that make it a welcome addition to many dishes from sandwiches to enchiladas. Adding any kind of lettuce to your diet helps improve your overall nutrient intake.
Lettuce provides vital antioxidants that fight free radicals in your body. This can help reduce the risk of numerous cancers and helps your heart stay healthy.
Lettuce has multiple nutrients that help prevent bone loss and can even reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate are all key nutrients to helping your body build and maintain healthy bone mass.
Lettuce provides multiple nutrients that promote skin health. Vitamin A helps your skin heal, prevents breakouts, and maintains a youthful luster. It also helps your hair stay healthy and strong. Vitamin C helps your body build collagen. Collagen helps skin elasticity, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and sagging.
Nutrients in lettuce can help a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin A, potassium, and folate are all recommended in your diet to promote a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin C, of course, is vital for immune system health. Folate also helps promote a healthy immune system.
Calories in Lettuce
Lettuce is a low-calorie food. In fact, it’s one of the lowest-calorie foods you can eat. To show just how few calories are in lettuce, let’s assume that you’re making a salad starting with one cup of iceberg lettuce, and you want each ingredient to have the same quantity of calories.
So how many calories are in a cup of iceberg lettuce? 10 calories. Lettuce is lower in calories than almost any other healthy vegetable or fruit. For example, 10 calories of cucumber is between ½ and 2/3 cup. For 10 calories of tomatoes, you would only add a little over 1/3 cup. For 10 calories of bell peppers, you would add just over ¼ cup. For 10 calories of grated carrots, you would add a little less than ¼ cup.
To top off your salad, vinaigrette dressing is a reasonable low-calorie choice. A 10-calorie serving of vinaigrette dressing is about ¾ of a teaspoon, one ninth the size of a recommended serving. If you wanted to add 10 calories of ranch dressing, you would add less than 1/2 teaspoon. One serving of ranch dressing has 15 times as many calories as a cup of lettuce.
And, believe it or not – iceberg lettuce also has more calories than any other type of common lettuce. A cup of romaine lettuce has only 8 calories, while a cup of red leaf lettuce contains only 4 calories.
In other words, lettuce is likely the lowest-calorie ingredient in almost any dish. Plus, lettuce has no fat and no cholesterol. With its fresh flavor, satisfying crunch, and high nutrient content, this makes lettuce a great addition to any meal.