When people think about diets, they first think, “I’ll just eat more salads.” Though it is important to eat your greens, it is even more important to know that not every leaf is the same. I must mention that it is impossible to list all of the lettuce types and I won’t be doing so. I will, however, give you the rundown on a few of the basic lettuce types I personally have eaten in my lifetime: iceberg and butter lettuce, romaine, kale, and my favorite, spinach.
1. Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce tends to be the cheapest of them all and for good reason; it has no nutritional value (you get what you pay for, right?) If you research the web for nutritional facts, none of them say that there is even a gram of protein, fiber or even carbs. Note: these three components are vital when eating a well balanced meal (in their own appropriate sizes, of course). So, ditch the iceberg otherwise you’ll feel hungry faster and be lacking a nutrient rich meal.
2. Butter Lettuce
Butter lettuce is not your average iceberg. It’s smooth, crisp and refreshing to the taste. If you have ever heard of butter lettuce, it was likely because many people tend to wrap burgers or tacos in it. Butter lettuce doesn’t fall apart easily and it’s the perfect pair to a protein burger without the added overkill of carbs. After visiting a farm, I learned that butter lettuce is packed with potassium and it’s rich in vitamin A. What can you expect as a benefit to eating butter lettuce then? Radiant skin and a decrease in bruising, should you be more prone. Personally, I am anemic on occasion, and this can help butter me up in a snap.
3. Romaine Lettuce
When I think of romaine lettuce, I think of Roman warriors battling in war, because romaine will, in fact, battle a lot on your behalf. It has a higher value of protein than some greens. It’s rich in iron, and it helps with absorbing some much-needed water into our bodies. According to the National Institutes of Health, people should consume as little as 1 gram (newborn age) to 18 grams (adolescents and above) per day of iron and romaine has about 7 grams. So eat romaine lettuce, for it shall fight for your life, literally.
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In my personal opinion, kale is tough, and not as friendly to the palette raw. However, I still would devour this lettuce in its natural state. I eat a lot of vegetables raw, but if you can’t swallow this idea, my next suggestion is to consume it after being baked, sprinkled with oil and salt and pepper. According to WebMd, kale is rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, has 3 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. What do I hear when I read this sentence? I hear “You’re gonna be nourished and feeling full after you eat me!” What can I say, kale speaks to me. Just kidding.
If any lettuce type should ever speak to me, it’s Spinach. Popeye definitely ate it for good reason. If you remember his arms were huge and he was strong! Obviously, this cartoon was a little exaggerated but they did personify the effectiveness of spinach well. Spinach is delicious when raw and it’s also delicious cooked. My personal preference (if not raw), is to sauté it with some EVOO or coconut oil and a seasoning of my choice. If it’s my grandma making it, she adds raw garlic and tomato for added, mouth-watering flavor.
Oh! And no one ever said you had to eat it, why not juice it? Pick whatever preference palatable to you but know that when you enjoy spinach, you will be feeding your body nutritionally. Spinach is rich in iron, magnesium and my favorite pick – folate (also know as folic acid). I not only craved spinach during my pregnancy but also really needed it. Spinach helped me increase the iron levels that were depleted during and post pregnancy. In addition, folic acid helped my son’s brain and spinal cord grow successfully.
There are a variety of lettuce types that range in nutritional value. I’d say ditch the iceberg and dive into the waters of kale and butter lettuce instead. If you’re pregnant, I’d say eat spinach the most. Whatever your preference, be aware: NOT ALL LETTUCE TYPES ARE THE SAME. What are your favorite lettuce types? Comment below!