Health Benefits of Lettuce

Last night I had a dinner guest and when I brought out our salad, he had the GAUL to call my bowl of lettuce nutritionally limited–or something like that. Of course, this is thought comes from practical logic concerning many green veggies. Most lettuces and other foods (like celery or cucumber) are “negative-calorie foods,” meaning your body expends more energy digesting the food than the veggie actually possesses. For example, a piece of celery is about 5 calories.

By the time you chew it and your stomach BEGINS to digest it, you’ve already burned more calories than the stalk possessed. This trend is simlilar for most green leafy veggies (and veggies in general). Considering our society’s obsession with macro nutrients: carbs, proteins, fats, it is no surprise that my dinner guest wasn’t aware of the EXTREME value of the lettuce’s MICRONutrients: vitamins, minerals, water. I should write a post in the near future explaining the importance and function of these micronutrients, but for now know that even though they are “micro,” they are essential.

So to honor the importance of lettuce and continually support the claim that it is sexy, I’m going to start a sexy lettuce series every week (or so) explaining the benefits of that lettuce and a salad idea/recipe.

Why sexy? Well first, this infamous guest used the term after I rambled on how fancy and nutritious my lettuce was. Secondly, it’s true! Think of your own perception of “sexy.” Light, lively, subtle but strong, maybe a bit intimidating at first, makes you feel good inside–yes! lettuce! So without further ado….

Let’s start with one of the most basic lettuces: Romaine, just to demonstrate how even simple lettuce is sexy. To the left we have a nutritional breakdown of the vitamins and minerals found in Romain (taken from wholefoods.com). Basicailly, Romaine is a great source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, manganese and chromium. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in romaine makes it heart healthy, lowering cholesterol by preventing artery buildup and utlizing fiber to remove unneeded salt in the colon.

The folic acid converts a damaging chemical called homocysteine, making it benign and preventing blood vessel damage which could lead to heart attacks or strokes. And romaine’s potassium lowers high blood pressure. Nutrient deficient? I don’t think so. Healthy? definitely.

Do you need a recipe for romaine? I like to pair romaine with crunchy veggies since it itself can be softer. Romaine is usually my basis for the traditional greek or italian style salads with carrots, celery, cucumber, etc. You can spice it up with beets, parsnips, raw zucchini, or blanched sweet potatoes too.

Enjoy! (and please WASH your lettuce).

Let’s start with one of the most basic lettuces: Romaine, just to demonstrate how even simple lettuce is sexy. To the left we have a nutritional breakdown of the vitamins and minerals found in Romain (taken from wholefoods.com). Basicailly, Romaine is a great source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, manganese and chromium. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in romaine makes it heart healthy, lowering cholesterol by preventing artery buildup and utlizing fiber to remove unneeded salt in the colon. The folic acid converts a damaging chemical called homocysteine, making it benign and preventing blood vessel damage which could lead to heart attacks or strokes. And romaine’s potassium lowers high blood pressure.
Nutrient deficient? I don’t think so. Sexy? definitely.

Do you need a recipe for romaine? I like to pair romaine with crunchy veggies since it itself can be softer. Romaine is usually my basis for the traditional greek or italian style salads with carrots, celery, cucumber, etc. You can spice it up with beets, parsnips, raw zucchini, or blanched sweet potatoes too.

Enjoy! (and please WASH your lettuce).

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