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Lettuce nutrition facts

Crispy, green/crimson-red colored lettuce is one of the incredible leafy vegetables packed with essential nutrients that benefit overall general health. Indeed, it is among the most sought-after greens, be it in your crunchy, green salads or healthy vegetable sandwiches! Botanically this marvelous, nutrition rich leafy green belongs to the daisy family of Asteraceae. Scientific name: Lactuca sativa. Lactuca sativa is a small size annual plant flourishes in well-draining, humus soil. Its leaves exude milk like fluid (sap) when cut, and hence their name derived from Latin, lactuca for milk. There are about six varieties of cultivars exist based upon head formation and leaf structure. The leaf varieties with more bitter taste are rather rich in antioxidants. Here are some popular varieties grown around the globe:1. Butter-head, with loose heads; it has a buttery texture. Butter head cultivars are most popular and widely grown in Europe. 2. Chinese variety or celtuce, generally have long, tapering, non-head forming, strong-flavored leaves unlike its Western counterparts. They are, therefore, used preferred in stir fried dishes and stews. 3. Crisp-head variety forms tight, dense heads that resemble cabbage. They are generally the mildest form, valued more for their crunchy texture than flavor. Cultivars of the crisp head are the most familiar type used in the USA. 4. Loose-leaf variety features tender, delicate and fully flavored leaves with a loose bunch. This group includes green oak leaf, red oak leaf, valeria and lolla-rosa-types. 5. Romaine-lettuce grows in a long head of sturdy leaves with a firm rib almost reaching to the tip of the leaf. Cultivars of Romaine are also the most popular types in the USA. 6. Summer Crisp variety forms moderately dense heads with a crunchy texture; this type is intermediate between crisp-head and loose-leaf types.

Health benefits of Lettuce



Lettuce leaves are one of the very low calorie green-vegetables. 100 g fresh greens provide just 15 calories. Nonetheless, they are the store house of many phyto-nutrients that have health promoting and disease prevention properties. Vitamins in lettuce are plentiful. Fresh leaves are an excellent source of several Vitamin A and beta carotenes. Just 100 g of fresh, raw-lettuce provides 247% of daily vitamin A, and 4443 g of beta-carotene (Carotenes convert to vitamin A in the body; 2 g of carotene is considered equivalent to 1 IU of vitamin A). These compounds have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids helps to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers. It is a rich source of vitamin K. Vitamin K has a potential role in the bone metabolism where it thought to increase bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone cells. It also has established role in Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Fresh leaves contain good amounts folates and vitamin C. Folates require for DNA synthesis and therefore, vital in prevention of the neural tube defects in-utero fetus during pregnancy. Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant; regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, proinflammatory free radicals.

Zea-xanthin (1730 g per 100 g), an important dietary carotenoid in lettuce, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and filter UV rays falling on the retina. Diet rich in xanthin and carotenes is thought to offer some protection against age-related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly. It also contains good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation. It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavins.

Regular inclusion of lettuce in salads is known to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, ARMD, Alzheimer's disease and cancers.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Lettuce, (Lactuca sativa var. crispa), raw, green-leaf, Nutritive value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base) Nutrient Value
15 Kcal

Principle

Percentage of RDA
1%

Energy

Carbohydrates

2.79 g

2%

Protein

1.36 g

2%

Total Fat

0.15 g

0.5%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

1.3 g

3%

Vitamins
Folates 38 g 9.5%

Niacin

0.375 mg

2%

Pantothenic acid

0.134 mg

2.5%

Pyridoxine

0.090 mg

7%

Riboflavin

0.080 mg

6%

Thiamin

0.070 mg

6%

Vitamin A

7405 IU

247%

Vitamin C

9.2 mg

15%

Vitamin E-

0.29 mg

2%

Vitamin K

126.3 g

105%

Electrolytes
Sodium 28 mg 2%

Potassium

194 mg

4%

Minerals
Calcium 36 mg 3.5%

Copper

0.029 mg

3%

Iron

0.86 mg

10%

Magnesium

13 mg

3%

Manganese

0.250 mg

11%

Phosphorus

29 mg

4%

Zinc

0.18 mg

1.5%

Phyto-nutrients
Carotene- 4443 g --

Crypto-xanthin-

0 g

--

Lutein-zeaxanthin

1730 g

--

Selection and storage


In the store, choose leaves that feature crispy outlook, bright in color. Avoid sunken leaves with spots or discoloration. Each variety of lettuce features a unique keeping quality; hence, different methods should be applied while storing. Romaine and loose leaf-lettuces should be washed, and any excess water removed before storing in the refrigerator. Butter-head need not be washed before storing. Pack them in a plastic bag or store in the refrigerator. Romaine will stay fresh for up to seven days whereas, Butter-head and loose leaf-types for two to three days.

Preparation and serving methods


Remove any outer discolored leaves. Then trim off their bitterly tips. Chop the remaining leaf to a desired size and discard the bottom stem/root portion.

Wash leaves then in clean running water and soak in salt water for about half an hour in order to remove sand and any parasite eggs and worms. Pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove the excess water. Regardless of the type, all lettuces should feature crispy, fresh leaves that are free of dark or slimy spots. Varieties such as romaine and butter-head should have compact heads with no brown stems. Here are some serving tips:

Raw, fresh-lettuce iscommonly used in salads, burger, spring rolls and sandwiches. Chinese-lettuce is usually stir fried or stewed and added to noodles as well as fried rice preparations. The leafy green also combines well with garden peas, green-beans as well as seafood like shrimp, prawns, etc.

Safety profile
Pesticides are commonly used in lettuce crops. The most common pesticides found in the leaves are organ-phosphorous, Permethrin, etc. Wash them thoroughly in cold water before consumption. However, the organic forms are believed to be free from these toxins and safe for consumption. The vegetable contains moderate levels of oxalic acid, 0.33 mg per 100 g of fresh leaves.