Lettuce nutrition varies from one leaf to another. Not surprisingly, the most abundantly available type of lettuce is typically the lowest cost and the provides the least health benefits. Iceberg has a large water content (up to 96%) but lettuce nutrition is quite low on the scale. Kale is gaining in popularity and from a lettuce nutrition standpoint has high marks. Incorporating leaves of green (or red) into your daily meals can boost your kid’s intake of many vitamins and minerals — but choose the leaf wisely to get more impact from your efforts. Let us discuss the dirt about lettuce nutrition facts.
The daily recommended vegetable intake for most adults is 2-3 cups. For kids it varies depending on age, sex, and activity level. Click here to figure out your child’s needs. Eat a mixed green salad several times per week if not daily and be sure to offer your children the same, starting in the toddler years. You’ll teach them by example and by repeatedly offering a serving on their plate. Before you know it, your child will be gobbling up a salad, helping you prepare a salad as part of the family meal, and gaining numerous health benefits from the lettuce nutrition provided.
To help choose your greens, review the chart below for information about the nutrient quality of your favorite or maybe “new favorite” leaf.
Looks like Kale (that Vitamin K percentage is NOT a typo!), Spinach, and Romaine are the powerful nutrient rich leaves. The leaves that are loose as they grow (not compact like an iceberg head) can absorb more light and therefore are able to product more vitamins. That’s why the darker, loose-leaf varieties have more nutritional value.
So what are these nutrients and why do our bodies need them?
- Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, promotes healthy development of soft tissues, skeletal tissue, and teeth, and also plays a role in allowing good vision in dim light.
- Vitamin K is needed to help blood clotting and prevent bleeding problems in the body. It also has a role in keeping calcium within the bones and prevents calcium build up in the arteries and therefore is a heart disease prevention vitamin.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps the body develop resistance against infections and fights damage caused by free radicals — which can be a cancer prevention. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body — it has a role in limiting the aging of skin, wrinkle development, and prevents dryness of the skin.
- Folate is needed for DNA production and thus is vital in prevention of neural tube defects in unborn infants. Folate is a B vitamin that helps the body produce new cells and promotes health of these new cells.
- Iron is in all cells of the human body and is a major part of the hemoglobin portion of the red blood cells. Is helps the body produce energy and carry oxygen to all the body tissues. It’s also needed for function of myoglobin in muscle cells and is needed for making amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, and collagen.
- and finally Calcium is considered one of the most important minerals in our bodies. It’s needed for building strong bones and teeth, for proper blood clotting, the communication process in our nervous system, it helps move our muscles including keeping the heart beating regularly, and it’s needed for releasing hormones within the body.
The most nutritious way to eat your leaves is raw. Steaming, stir frying, or other types of heating will decrease the nutrient quantity of the leaf. Another thing to consider is what you put on top of or into your leaves — creamy dressing, bacon bits, cheese, croutons, and tortilla chips will all add fat calories, so be sure to limit these additions.
The health benefits of salads can vary depending on the type of leaves you use. Lettuce nutrition facts are important to know about so your family can get the most from your salad.