There are many types of lettuce, and it's hard to go wrong with any of them. But the answer to question of whether some are better than others is Yes. And no.
All lettuce varieties are loaded with water and they have some fiber. Because it is not broken down by the body, fiber has no effect on blood glucose levels because it isn't digested.
The popular iceberg lettuce makes a crunchy salad (like a Greek Salad) and includes some vitamin K, folate, and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A.
But other types of lettuce provide even more vitamins and nutrients.
A cup of Boston or Bibb lettuce provides more than six times as much beta-carotene as iceberg, and dark green or red leaf lettuce contains even more - about the same amount that's in half a small carrot. For a salad that used Boston Lettuce, try this Island Salad.
These lettuces are also high in lutein, another carotenoid that links to eye health. One cup of romaine gives you over 80 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin A and more than half of vitamin K.
Romaine also contains the B vitamin folate that helps maintain healthy DNA and may play a role in protecting against heart disease (read: Your Heart May Not Need More Vitamin B).
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You may also have seen the mixture of field greens called mesclun. Some mixes include mainly mild-flavored greens such as baby oak leaf and romaine, while other blends contain more peppery flavored greens, such as arugula and mustard. In general, nutrients in these greens are similar to that of romaine or leaf lettuce: high in beta-carotene and folate.
Whatever type of lettuce you choose as your salad base, all are less than ten calories a cup and can help keep you full without many calories. By mixing up your lettuce choices, you'll keep your salads interesting and pack in a variety of vitamins and other healthful compounds.
Lemon Caesar Salad Recipe
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Source: Manitoba Canola Growers Association
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
- 1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes (375 mL)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (60 mL)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (7 mL)
- 1 tsp dry mustard (5 mL)
- 1 tsp lemon zest (5 mL)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper (1 mL)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (75 mL)
- 1 (2 oz/75 mL) can anchovies
- 1 cup canola oil (250 mL)
- 4 thick slices whole grain bread, cut into cubes
- 2 Tbsp canola oil (30 mL)
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (30 mL)
- dash of pepper
- 1 Tbsp Italian parsley, very finely chopped (15 mL)
- In a large salad bowl, prepare lettuce and toss with tomatoes. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the dressing.
- Combine lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, lemon zest, freshly ground pepper and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. With processor running, add canola oil in a fine stream and continue to blend until smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Toss bread with canola oil, Parmesan cheese, pepper and Italian parsley. Spread on lightly greased baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes, until croutons are golden.
- Pour desired amount of dressing over salad, add croutons and toss lightly. Top the salad with additional Parmesan cheese shavings. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Protein: 9 g
Sodium: 570 mg
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Fat: 46 g
Saturated Fat: 4.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Carbohydrates: 13 g
Sources: AICR; Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND; Joslin Diabetes