Do You Know Your Lettuce?

Since eating salads have become much more popular – lettuce is, of course, one of its main ingredients. Do you know the different kinds of lettuce and which varieties are the most healthy?

For many years most of us used iceberg lettuce for salads, sandwiches and hamburgers, but iceberg lettuce offers very little nutritional value. It is preferred over other types because of its crispness and its low calorie content  It also has a very high water content.  If you are using lettuce to make a salad, try adding one of the following kinds of lettuce or spinach leaves to add nutritional value.

Romaine lettuce is a great way to start off your salad, especially if you are making a Caesar salad or Greek Salad.   It not only will add texture and flavor, but is much higher in nutritional value than iceberg lettuce.  Romaine lettuce offers a high content of Vitamins K, A, C and B9 (folate).  It is exceptionally high in manganese and relatively high in both chromium and potassium.  It is an excellent source of fiber. 


Arugula is similar to Romaine in that it is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, along with folic acid, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.  As a cruciferous vegetable, it contains glucosinolates, which are anticancer compounds.  It is an excellent antioxidant source because it has phytochemicals such as carotenes and chlorophyll.

  Butterhead, also known as Boston lettuce is very tender and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamins A, B, C and K.  Interestingly, butter lettuce contains lactucarium which has effects similar to those of opium.  Since it has sedative properties, it is recommended for treating insomnia, intestinal spasms and palpitations. 

To make a really nutritious salad, add fresh vegetables to your choice of lettuce (or mix different types of lettuce) such as carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, cheese, olives, avocado, spinach leaves and some type of protein.  Excellent sources of protein are boiled eggs or chunks of chicken.  Try to use a minimal of salad dressing as they can add unnecessary calories to your salad if you are trying to lose weight.  Oil and vinegar make an excellent salad dressing.

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  1. I mostly use iceberg, but grow some little gem lettuces in window boxes and they are handy for sandwiches.

  2. Thank you for the advice, will put some of these varieties on my allotment next year. :)

  3. Iceberg is still my favorite.


  4. If you have a choice – choose Romaine!!

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