Lettuce has been called “the perfect weight loss food” and “rabbit food,” but it is so much more. With amazing healing benefits and calories comprised of 20 percent protein, it could be called “gorilla food” instead!
Discover all the benefits and history of this amazing Powerfood, and a few dietary concerns.
Suggestion: Choose romaine lettuce if you can instead of iceberg. Romaine has one of the highest nutritional values in the lettuce category. Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, has the lowest nutrition.
Romaine vs. Iceberg Lettuce
Less sugars and sodium
Twice the protein
Twice the calcium
Three times the vitamin K
Four times the iron
Eight times the vitamin C
Seventeen times the vitamin A (Nutritional data originally from USDA SR-21)
The general rule is: Choose red, green and dark colored foods over whites. Red and green leaf lettuce is more nutritional than iceberg. I like to put romaine lettuce in my green smoothies.
10 Health Benefits:
1. Low Calorie Content and Almost Zero Fat.
Lettuce has only 12 calories for one shredded cup.
This is why it is so good for weight loss.
2. Helps Weight Loss
Lettuce contains fiber and cellulose. Besides filling you up, fiber improves your digestion. Improving your digestion may not sound like a good thing for losing weight, but it is actually essential for long term weight control.
Fiber also helps remove bile salts from the body. When the body replaces these salts it breaks down cholesterol to do so. This is why lettuce is also good for your heart! (See next point.)
3. Heart Healthy
Lettuce’s vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. This prevents the build up of plaque.
4. Omega-3 Fatty acids.
Romaine lettuce has a two to one ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. That’s a great ratio.
The fat content in lettuce is not significant UNLESS you eat a lot–but we actually suggest you do!
5. Complete Protein
Romaine lettuce’s calories are 20 percent protein. Like all whole foods, much of this protein is complete, but the amount can be increased by combining with balancing proteins.
6. Helps with Insomnia
The white fluid that you see when you break or cut lettuce leaves is called lactucarium.
This has relaxing and sleep inducing properties similar to opium but without the strong side effects. Simply eat a few leaves or drink some lettuce juice.
7. Lettuce is Alkaline Forming
The minerals in lettuce help remove toxins and keep your acid/alkaline balance in order. Once you are balanced on this level there are a host of benefits including greater energy, clearer thinking, deep restful sleep, and youthful skin. To browse more benefits check out Benefits of An Alkaline Body.
8. Low Glycemic Index
Lettuce has an average glycemic index of 15, but because it has so few calories, its glycemic load is considered zero. Foods with low glycemic indexes are great for anyone watching their blood sugars for medical reasons, or for weight management.
Of course, lettuce has no refined or white sugars and the host of problems that come with them.
9. Whole Life Food
Lettuce is almost always eaten raw, providing us with many micronutrients not found in cooked or processed food. Eating raw food also adds vital energies not recognized by nutritional science.
Large food corporations have not found a way to package lettuce long term or stick it in cans or boxes. Let’s hope they never do!
In fact, lettuce is one of the few foods which can be found organic and prewashed already in bins for you to eat immediately.
10. Lettuce Tastes Great.
Even though lettuce is very low in calories, many varieties still have a sweet taste. To maximize benefits from your food you should really WANT to eat it with your whole body–not just your mind saying it is good for you. If you like the bitter taste you can find more bitter lettuce options, too!
Interesting Facts and History:
- Lettuce is part of the daisy and thistle family!
- Lettuce was served on the tables of the Persian kings – 6th century B.C
- The leaf was revered by the Greeks and Romans for basic food and medicine (sleep induction).
- Emperor Caesar Augustus built a statue praising lettuce as he believed eating it had cured him of an illness!
- The Chinese consider lettuce good luck and eat it on special occasions.
- Lettuce was introduced to North America by none other than Christopher Columbus.
- Wild lettuce is common around the globe.
Types of Lettuce:
1. Romaine – This is your classic Greek salad. Sweet and crunchy.
2. Crisphead – Iceberg. White on the inside. Crisp texture and mild taste.
3. Butterhead – Boston and Bibb. Large green leaves that are soft and sweet.
4. Red and Green Leaf – Delicate taste and leaves.
Arugula, watercress, and mizuna are NOT classified as lettuce, but are often mixed with lettuce in salads. They have similar nutritional benefits.
My personal favorite lettuce is romaine. I love the taste and nutrition, but it is also much less likely to spoil than some of the others. I always have many bags of organic romaine heads in my fridge. I also keep a tub of organic field green or spring mix, but much less since it easily spoils.
Unless you buy organic, lettuce can contain a lot of toxins and pesticides. This is because:
- It has a high surface to weight ratio.
- Bugs and microorganisms love those tender lettuce leaves just as much as you.
Therefore: Lettuce is on the list of Dirty Dozen – those foods you SHOULD buy organic. Discover the other 11 foods here: 12 Foods You Must Eat Organic.
Luckily organic lettuce is becoming more and more available.