Learn to love … Lettuce
Perhaps the most used green leafy vegetable in the whole world …
But, why’s that? Is it low price? Ease of use? Or, is there any underlying nutritional value?
Look, the more I study about nutrition – as you know, I’m doing the Health Coach Training Program with IIN – the more I realize that habits that seem totally random, that we take for granted, are really there for some reason.
It’s like we have some cultural intuition, that led us to create dietary habits that are meaningful and beneficial. All this before we were invaded by the food industry marketing gods, of course…
In any case, it’s true: the humble lettuce is unexpectedly rich from a nutritional standpoint, so much that I’ll suggest you include it in your daily diet!
Lettuce: nutritional info
I’ll be talking specifically about a type of lettuce that is quite recent in the Portuguese market but that abroad has been the main component of the famous Cesar Salad: the romaine lettuce (or Cos lettuce, originally from the island of Cos).
This type of lettuce has a very interesting nutritional profile, it’s totally worth knowing and learning how to use it.
Romaine lettuce has significant amounts of fat-soluble vitamins A, C and K. And by ‘significant’, I mean a serving of 100g of romaine lettuce will score you more than your daily needs of vitamins A and K and about 40% of your daily needs of vitamin C. Not bad, uh?
Romaine lettuce is also a great source of folate – a water soluble vitamin and the natural form of what you might know as ‘folic acid’ – 34% of your daily needs in the same 100g serving.
Romaine lettuce will help you pile up your daily dose of dietary fiber, which are absolutely KEY to your GI health. Our friendly 100g serving will provide about 2.1g of fiber, which is about 8% of your daily needs.
It’s quite surprising how many minerals you find in romaine… most of them key to keep your body working in tip-top shape.
The main ones are: manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. But there’s more, in lower amounts you’ll still get zinc, copper and selenium,
See, it’s totally worth the effort of locating this type of lettuce in your supermarket, it’s almost a (very affordable) dietary supplement!
What is does NOT contain
Last but not the least, this type of lettuce is super healthy because it does NOT contain cholesterol and sodium. Oh, and it’s glycemic index is way low!
When I started planning this post, I had thought to talk about romaine lettuce only, given it’s nutritional riches and also the fact that it’s quite recent in my country – Portugal.
Luckily, today it’s easier to find, at least in my favorite supermarkets. It has been made more available by Vitacress, a brand that has single-handedly been contributing to make salads sexier and way easier to eat in this market. And I thank them by buying their products faithfully every week (not sponsored, this is my honest opinion).
However, my research led me to conclude that other types of lettuce are also quite good in terms of these vitamins and minerals, some more than others. And more, red leaf lettuce has additional phenolic compounds that will boost antioxidant activity in the body – isn’t that just great?
So, to cut a long story short: please make the effort of learning to love all lettuce, and to use them in delicious and creative ways so you can benefit from this super natural cocktail of health.
Tips and tricks to eat more lettuce
All this theory is very fine but what really matters is HOW to eat lettuce in a delicious but not work-heavy way, right?
Here go my best ideas:
it’s not by accident that my basic green smoothie recipe contains half a romaine lettuce head. Yes, I’m not talking about one little leaf or two, it’s half a lettuce head!
After that, even if I don’t get more greens throughout the day, I’m all set with a stock of nutrients and antioxidants that will make me energetic and healthy.
Besides, the lettuce won’t overpower the smoothie’s taste, it lets the other ingredients shine, which is good news if you prefer a fruity flavor.
See this recipe:
This is the obvious use of a lettuce. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to always be the same old lettuce/tomato combination. Even the fact that you cut the leaves in different formats makes your salad – and your experience eating it – totally different.
See these examples on the blog:
When you want to lose weight, eat gluten-free or sipmly you can’t stand the taste of flour based wraps, lettuce leaves are a crunchy and tasty alternative to carry your favorite fillings and make a light but nutritious meal.
Dips and hummus
Again, if you’re aiming at a healthy, anti-inflammatory and flour-less diet, you better forget all the crackers, grissini and so on, which basically have very little to no value added.
That’s the perfect time to try vegetable sticks and lettuce leaves. In this case, baby lettuce hearts are perfect, as they are quite sturdy and crunchy.
See this hot pink example here:
Glow Chef’s recipes are all about getting maximum flavor with minimum fuss. If your life is beyond busy and you think you have no time to cook, give my recipes a shot. You might be surprised 😉
How about you, do you have any secret tips to include more lettuce into your daily diet?
Share them down in the comment section, I’d love to know.
Recipe photos: Sílvia Almeida for Glow Chef.