Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce is one of the most popular leafy-green vegetables. Its crispy, crimson/green leaves have been one of the most incredible sources of essential nutrients for a long time, making it one of the most sought after greens, be it in healthy sandwiches or crunchy green salads. When cut, lettuce leaves exude milk-like sap, hence its name, which is derived from the Latin word for milk, lactuca. Botanically, this nutritious leafy green belongs to the daisy family of Asteraceae. Its scientific name is lactuca sativa.
The lettuce plant itself is small in size and flourishes when planted in sandy, humus soil. The crop has about six different cultivars that are based on differences in the leaf structure and head formation. These varieties include:
Romaine-lettuce – This cultivar grows to a long head of sturdy leaves characterized by a firm rib that reaches the top of each leaf. It is the most common lettuce cultivar in the USA.
Loose-leaf lettuce – This is characterized by tender, delicate and flavorful leaves that form a loose bunch. Lettuce in this group includes oak leaf lettuce, red oak leaf lettuce, and lolla-rosa and valeria types.
Crisp head lettuce – This forms tight, dense heads similar to cabbage. It is a very mild form liked more for its crunchy texture that its flavor.
Summer crisp – This forms moderately dense heads that have a crunchy texture, and it is the intermediate cultivar between crisp-head and loose leaf lettuce types.
Butter-head lettuce – With its loose heads, this lettuce variety has a buttery texture. It is the most common lettuce cultivar grown in Europe.
Celtuce or Chinese variety – it is generally characterized by long, tapering, strong and none-head forming leaves. However, the Chinese row celtuce for its stem which is employed as a vegetable.
How Many Calories Does Lettuce Have?
All cultivars of lettuce have roughly the same amount of calories, whether you prefer romaine, crisp, celtuce or loose leaf lettuce, you will get a similar amount of calories. A 3 ounce portion of any of these types of lettuce, which amounts to 85 grams by weight, provides between 10 to 15 calories.
Of the macro nutrients contained in lettuce, carbohydrates contain the highest number of calories; each 3-ounce serving of lettuce contains roughly 1.1 to 2 gm of carbohydrates, with each gram offering 4 calories. This equates to 4.4 to 8 calories from carbohydrates in your bed of lettuce. According the publication “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010” between 45 and 65 percent of your calories need to come from carbohydrates.
While not a major contributor to calories, you favorite lettuce also contains trace amounts of fat. You’ll get between .12 gm and 0.26 gm of fat from your 3 ounce serving of lettuce. Since fats produce 9 calories per gm, this amounts to a mere 1 to 2.3 calories.
You will also get small amounts of protein from lettuce. A 3-ounce serving contain 0.76 to 1.16 gm of protein. Since protein produces 4 calories per gram, this portion of lettuce gives you 3 to 4.6 calories from protein.
Lettuce Nutrition Facts
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Lettuce is rich in a variety of nutrients. It contains moisture, energy, fat, protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. The minerals found in lettuce include calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and zinc. Vitamins you can get from consuming lettuce are Vitamins A, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, vitamin E thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and Vitamin K.
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help in controlling inflammation. In a number of studies, lettuce extracts have shown considerable controlling power over the inflammation induced by biocatalysts such as carrageenan and lipoxygenase:
Lowers cholesterol levels – lettuce has been successfully used in studies to lower cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol, are harmful and can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
Has antimicrobial properties – Lettuce extract has antimicrobial properties, Candida albicans and several other yeasts were completely deformed upon coming into contact with latex from lettuce.
Has anti-oxidant properties – A number of studies have demonstrated that lettuce posses anti-oxidants with significant free radical eliminating properties. Anti-oxidants break down free radicals before they can attack healthy cells, tissues and the DNA contained in them. Left unchecked, this is what leads to the development of certain types of cancers.
Is good for eyesight – Lettuce leaves are rich in Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid that is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it acts as an anti-oxidant and filters UV rays falling on the retina. For this reason, health care experts recommend diets rich in Zea-xanthin and carotenes as protection against age-related macular disease among the elderly.
Helps heal skin – The high amounts of vitamin A found in romaine lettuce are essential for skin health. Vitamin A helps build collagen in the skin, which is responsible for keeping the skin firm and healthy and prevents age-related loss of elasticity. Additionally, it also contains vitamins, B, C and potassium, which help defend against inflammation and acne.
What You May Not Know About Eating Lettuce
Eating lettuce is a smart way to protect neuronal cells. These are brain cells that form physical connection to make up memory. The death of certain neurons in particular circuits or connections can result in loss of memory. In some cases mass deaths of neuronal cells may results in the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Consuming lettuce has been demonstrated to considerably control the death of neuron cells. Due to this, consuming lettuce is recommended as a remedy for those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.
Regular inclusion of lettuce into salads is also known to prevent iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis as well as protecting against cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and some types of cancer.
Is Lettuce Good for Losing Weight?
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Lettuce is extremely low in calories, (i.e., surge, carbs and fat) yet it is rich in nutrients and water content. Thanks to this disparity between calorie count and nutrient content, you can eat as much of it as possible when trying to lose weight. The fiber and water contained in the lettuce makes it filling and helps prevent bloat. This means that you will eat less of other high calorie food and reach your desired healthy weight faster.
Consuming fruits and vegetables is the easiest way to keep you healthy and even lose weight. A 2008 study published in “Nutrition Research” found that women who consumed a greater amount of these nutritious foods lost more weight and gained more body energy than those who consumed less of the fruits and vegetables. You can eat lettuce as a replacement for other foods thanks to its low calorie count, while benefiting from its rich nutrient content.