The scientific name for lettuce is lactuca sativa, derived from the Latin word lac meaning milk. The name refers to the plant’s milky juice. Lettuce is most often grown as a leaf vegetable.
Lettuce belongs to the family asteraceae. It is a temperate annual or biennial plant. It can be eaten raw and cold. Lettuce is the invariable element of the delicious salads, soups, sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, etc.
Lettuce can be many types but the most common are:
Romaine: also known as cos, this variety of head forming lettuce has deep green, long leaves with a crisp texture and deep taste.
Crisphead: with green leaves on the outside and whitish ones on the inside, this variety of head lettuce has a crisp texture and a watery, mild taste the best known variety of Crisphead lettuce is iceberg.
Butterhead: these types of lettuce feature tender large leaves that form a loosely arranged head that is easily separated from the stem, a sweet flavor and a soft texture. The best known varieties of this lettuce include Boston and Bibb.
Leaf: featuring broad, curly leaf varieties that are green and red, the leaf lettuces offer a delicate taste and a mildly crispy texture. Best known varieties of leaf lettuce include green leaf and red leaf.
Usually, lettuce leaves are slightly bitter; however they might be specifically bred in a way that helps rid them of the bitterness. Being high in nutritional value, lettuce offers its users a number of health and nutrition benefits.
The juice of lettuce, when mixed with rose oil and applied to the forehead, can help ease headache and even aid a sound and restful sleep. Lettuce, being high in dietary fiber, aids digestion and is good for those suffering from constipation.
Lettuce has been associated with reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and cataracts. This mainly results from the presence of beta-carotene, the chief disease-fighting nutrient, in the salad. Since lettuce is pretty low in calories, it makes the perfect snack for those trying to lose weight.
Romaine lettuce is considered to have the highest nutritional value because its leaves are darker than those of iceberg or butter head lettuce. The darker the leaves, the more nutritious it is. It is also found to be an excellent source of beta carotene that is useful in preventing different types of cancer, but mainly of the stomach, esophagus and lungs.
It is believed that consumption of lettuce might help one get over nervous insomnia, as it contains a sleep-inducing substance. Lettuce has been found to be beneficial in the prevention of spina bifida and anemia. Lettuce has been associated with better liver health.
Lettuce is frequently suggested to men who are suffering from the problem of premature ejaculation. A mixture of lettuce juice and spinach juice is said to be good for those who are troubled by the problem of hair loss.
Lettuce is believed to be quite beneficial for people who often suffer from the problem of nervous cough. The high magnesium content in lettuce makes it rich in reviving powers, in relation to muscular tissues, brain and the nerves.
Those suffering from gastritis, gout, irritable bowel, obesity, sexual addiction, stress, tuberculosis, ulcers and urinary tract diseases might benefit from the regular consumption of lettuce.
100 gm of lettuce contains:
Carbohydrates: 2.2 g
Dietary fiber: 1.1 g
Fats: 0.2 g
Protein: 1.4 g
Water: 96 g
Iron: 1.2 mg
Lettuce are high in calcium and has no cholesterol, high in thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. lettuce again has high number of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Health tips for lettuce
Lettuce has several health benefits. As mentioned earlier, the darker the lettuce leaves, the more nutritious it is, and therefore, the most effective in maintaining good health and overall well being. Due to its high fiber and water content, lettuce is excellent for digestion and for the health of the liver, as well as for weight loss and weight control. Being a high source of antioxidants, lettuce helps fight heart disease and cancer, two very common health problems faced by many. Combining lettuce with other nutritious vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes and onions can help you derive maximum health benefits.
Lettuce is mostly eaten raw in salads, but you can also plan wonderful dishes, having delicious flavor, combining lettuce with other vegetables and fruits. You can try different ways of cooking, like braising, steaming or sautéing and even grilling certain lettuce varieties. I am sure, next time you buy vegetables; you are going to pick up lettuce first, looking at the low lettuce calories and high nutritional value.