Green vegetables or greens in short are gaining popularity with the growing health consciousness and importance of taking a balanced diet. Lettuce is an important member of the family of greens and probably one of the oldest vegetables known to the mankind.
Indigenously, it is found in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In India, it is commonly known as ‘salad patta’ in Hindi. As its name suggests, it is most widely used in salads all over the world and finds its place among the list of nutritious foods. Apart from salads, it is also used in soups, sandwiches and wraps. It is also used for the purpose of juicing.
Lettuce belongs to the scientific genus Lactuca, and Lactuca sativa are one of the most widely known species of lettuce. It is a seasonal vegetable which is mostly grown in spring when the soil is dry enough to be worked. It is relatively easier to grow and just like other greens, this vegetable is rich in minerals, vitamins and fiber. Several types of lettuce are available such as green or red leaves, romaine, iceberg or asparagus lettuce.
Lettuce: Skin benefits
With growing pollution levels, exposures to harmful chemicals, stress and improper diet, skin problems have become a common sight these days. In fact, having flawless skin seems like a dream and all those beauty products promising a range of benefits have very little effect whatsoever. It is important to understand that proper supply and absorption of nutrients are vital for a healthy body which includes the skin as well. Green vegetables such as lettuce are a storehouse of vital nutrients, vitamins and fiber which contribute to a healthy skin, keeping skin problems at bay. Some of the skin benefits of lettuce are as follows:-
1. Revitalizes Skin:
Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin A with six leaves providing more than 100% of your DV (daily value) of vitamin A. Vitamin A increases the cell turnover, thus revitalizing your skin (1).
2. Supplies Nutrition:
It also contains potassium which gives a rich supply of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation, thus resulting in a healthy and glowing skin (2).
3. Protects Skin:
The combination of vitamin E and vitamin C in this vegetable helps in keeping your skin healthy as you age (3). Vitamin E also provides protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
4. Removes Toxins:
Consumption of lettuce stimulates appetite (4) and removes toxins from the body. Furthermore, it can also cure deficiency of hemoglobin and mineral salts resulting in clear and radiant skin.
5. Fights Various Skin Problems:
The compresses of this vegetable is effective against several skin problems. Boil two salads of the lettuce leaf in 1 litre of water for about 20 minutes. The resulting liquid can be used as a compress on the face and other body parts. This compress can help in curing acne and psoriasis by cleaning the skin. To be effective, compresses should be at room temperature and kept for 10 minutes.
Compresses also help in toning your facial skin and can be used as masks, particularly for dry skin.
[ Read: Clementine Health Benefits ]
7. Aids Better Sleep:
The infusion made from lettuce salad has anti spastic effect and acts as a diuretic and sedative. Drinking this infusion induces a good night sleep yielding the resultant benefits to the skin (5).
Lettuce: Hair Benefits
Just like the rest of the body, your hair also needs adequate supply of nutrients, vitamins and minerals for their growth and health. Being highly nutritious, lettuce offers a range of benefits for your hair.
8. Stimulates Hair Growth:
Drinking lettuce juice on a regular basis stimulates hair growth by furnishing food to the nerves and roots of hair (6).
[ Read: Goji Berries Health Benefits ]
9. Provides Vital Micro-minerals:
It contains 8% silicon, 9% phosphorus and an ample supply of sulphur. These three minerals are vital for maintenance of skin, hair and nails.
10. Provides Nutrition:
The primary cause of hair loss is consumption of food in inorganic form such as cereals and devitalized food as the hair does not receive proper nourishment. Consumption of lettuce combats this problem as it provides proper nourishment in the form of essential vitamins and nutrients (7).
Health Benefits of Lettuce:
Lettuce, if allowed to be chosen, must be of the romaine type instead of the iceberg one. The romaine variety has the highest nutritional components.
Proteins are the building blocks of a developing body. They are needed for muscle development and many important metabolic reactions in the body. Lettuce contains a good 20 per cent of proteins in its total quantity (8).
12. Less sugar:
Not only artificial flavors but also artificial sugars harm the body, if eaten in excess. People who wish to consume lettuce in good amounts need not bother about this as it has less sugar content.
Iron is important for the blood hemoglobin amount and also for many other heart-related benefits. Iron content can be very well-balanced with lettuce leaves as they provide almost four times the iron in the romaine variety than in the iceberg one (9).
[ Read: Benefits of Mango Juice ]
14. Vitamin K:
Vitamin K content that is present in almost three times the amount than that in the normal iceberg lettuce is necessary for the body, especially for women in the pre-conception and pregnancy periods. This vitamin prevents neural defects during pregnancy (10).
[ Read: Benefits of Vitamin A ]
15. Vitamin C benefits:
Vitamin C in lettuce is a rich source of antioxidants (11) that prevent free radical formation and curb unwanted reactions that cause diseases and even cancers.
[ Read: Vitamin C Benefits ]
16. Weight loss:
Lettuce, which has such a good proportion of nutrients with such less fat and calories, is preferred as a perfect weight loss-inducing veggie (12).
17. Omega-3 fatty acids:
With a 2:1 ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, lettuce is really beneficial for maintaining a good overall health (13).
Insomnia is often found to be cured by eating lettuce with its lactucarium content that you see when the leaves are broken or cut. It helps induce relaxation and sleep (14). It has been found to have properties similar to opium other than its toxic side effects.
19. Alkaline formation and detoxification:
The minerals found in lettuce help in alkaline formation which is accompanied by the removal of toxins from the body (15).
20. Low glycemic index:
Due to the less caloric value of lettuce, its glycemic index is considered zero and thus, its consumption helps in maintaining blood sugar levels (16).
How to Select and Store?
Selection: Proper selection plays a vital role in ensuring that you are buying fresh vegetables. As far as lettuce is concerned, always prefer whole heads of lettuce over loose lettuce leaves as they are fresher and more nutritious. Also ensure that the leaves are crisp, tender and brightly colored. Lettuce can be best enjoyed if it is fresh and crisp. Dark green veggies are great sources of vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, iron and dietary fiber. Therefore, try to look for dark colored leaves. Lettuce is delicious as long as it is fresh. While shopping for lettuce, you should avoid bunches that are limp, wilting, brownish or have rust, spots or holes on them. You might find romaine lettuce which is slightly brownish along the edges of the outer leaves. This does not matter as long as the rest of the head is fresh and green.
Storage: Lettuce is a delicate vegetable and proper storage is crucial for maintaining its freshness. Storing lettuce is quite an uphill task as its leaves are prone to bruising if roughly handled. Moreover, greens do not last for long. Hence, you should give up the idea of stocking lettuce for future use. Iceberg and romaine lettuce can be stored for up to 10 days and red and green leaf lettuces for about 4 days. The best way to store lettuce is to keep it unwashed in an airtight container or plastic bag and store it in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Also ensure to keep it away from ethylene gas producing fruits such as apples, bananas or pears as they accelerate the deterioration of lettuce by increasing brown spots on the leaves and causing spoilage. Bunches of lettuce should be checked for insects and the leaves having roots should be placed in a glass of water with a bag over the leaves and stored in the refrigerator. The most difficult part about storing lettuce is maintenance of moisture level. Too much moisture suffocates the lettuce leaves due to condensation, causing the lettuce to spoil faster. More moisture also results in more production of ethylene gas which speeds up decay and spoilage. Some moisture, though, is necessary to ensure that the leaves stay crisp and do not dry out. Lettuce should be kept moist by wrapping it in a slightly damp paper towel or zip top bag. This enables the lettuce to absorb excess water without dehydrating the leaves. The crisper section of the refrigerator is the best spot for storing lettuce due to controlled and consistent humidity.
Lettuce: Nutrition Facts
Lettuce, green leaf Lettuce, iceberg Lettuce, red leaf Lettuce, romaine Lettuce, green leaf
Cholesterol 0 mg
|Total fat 0.2 g||0%|
|Saturated fat 0 g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 g|
|Amount Per 1 leaf inner (5 g) 1 leaf outer (24 g) 1 cup shredded (36 g) 100 grams 1 head (360 g) 100 grams|
|Sodium 28 mg||1%|
|Potassium 194 mg||5%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2.9 g||0%|
|Dietary fiber 1.3 g||5%|
|Sugar 0.8 g|
|Protein 1.4 g||2%|
|Vitamin A||148%||Vitamin C||15%|
|Vitamin B-6||5%||Vitamin B-12||0%|
|*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
Tips for Usage
The dark, richly colored varieties of lettuce such as dark green, red or purple ones are the richest in nutritional value indicated by the presence of vitamin A and other antioxidants such as carotenoids and lutein, which is why it is considered as one of the world’s most popular vegetables.
Eating: Lettuce is mostly eaten raw so before serving remove any brown, slimy, wilted or decayed leaves. The leaves should be washed thoroughly and dried to remove any dirt or insects. Lettuce is most commonly used in salads by regular lettuce eaters. Given below are certain tips for preparing lettuce before serving it in the form of salad.
- Wash the leaves in cold water. Avoid washing it in running water as it might damage the leaves and gently pat the leaves to dry them.
- Place the bunch on the chopping board and pound the core hard. This will loosen the leaves and make them easier to remove.
- Holding the core firmly in one hand and lettuce in another, twist the core to separate the leaves from it.
- Place the leaves in a salad spinner to dry. Tear them instead of cutting with knife so that they do not get bruised.
- Any dressing to the salad should be added just before serving it so that the leaves remain crisp.
Cooking: Apart from being eaten in salads, lettuce can also be cooked and made in dishes that can serve as a delightful treat. Being crisp, mild, soft and buttery lettuce can suit all tastes and form part of many dishes, making them more interesting.
- This wonderful vegetable can be braised, steamed, sautéed and even grilled to create something that is pleasing to the taste-buds besides being nutritious. Try adding some extra virgin olive oil to halved radicchio or romaine lettuce and grill unless they are softened and browned.
- Lettuce can be easily used along with other vegetables in burgers, sandwiches and wraps.
- You can try using an entire head of lettuce in a smoothie. It is advisable to add the fruits and blend it first and then add lettuce leaves into the smoothie. You can make a smoothie using fruits like bananas, strawberries or mangoes in combination with an entire head of romaine lettuce.
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