Lettuce belongs to the cabbage family, which means it is one of the cruciferous vegetables. Lactuca sativa (scientific name of lettuce) was initially cultivated only in Egypt during ancient times. It was even considered a sacred vegetable. Later the usage of lettuce for culinary and medicinal purposes spread all over the world.
The crunchy and juicy nature of the leafy vegetable has become an essential ingredient in salads, sandwiches, burgers and what not. Lettuce not only tastes good, it also provides many health benefits when consumed on a regular basis.
Nutrition in Lettuce
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin A, B6, C, E and K
- Thiamin and riboflavin
There are different varieties of lettuce – romaine, iceberg, butter-head, asparagus and red leaves. All varieties of lettuce contain the nutrients mentioned above.
Health benefits of lettuce
Lettuce possesses anti-inflammatory properties that reduces the inflammation in muscles and tissues. They control the inflammation causing catalysts and prevent inflammation.It also helps to alleviate inflammation by soothing the muscles.
Protects heart health
Lettuce is very effective in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. They reduce the bad cholesterol and increase the amount of good cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol levels come down, your heart and cardiovascular health is goo. At the same time, the risk of strokes and heart attacks are reduced tremendously.
Reduces stress and tension
Lettuce has been used in many traditional medicines – Ayurveda and Unani, to reduce stress and induce sleep. The sedative effect of lettuce, calms the body and reduces the anxiety in brain activity. This way, it creates a good body condition to sleep. It was also found out that, heart rate if so high, can be reduced by the chemicals in lettuce.
Lettuce contains powerful anti-oxidants that prevent the free radicals from affecting our body. Free radicals damage active cells and also the DNA in our body. These damaged cells and DNA turns into cancer cells and causes cancer /tumor in different body parts. Anti-oxidants plays a very important role in keep cancer and tumors at bay.
The extracts of lettuce have shown significant role in protecting the neurons in our brain. Neurons are very important in passing signals and holding memory. When these neurons are damaged, there are high chances of memory loss diseases like Alzheimer’s. Lettuce prevents neuron death and helps in keeping the brain active. It has been used traditionally to treat neuro-degenerative issues.
Gives you young and glowing skin
Regular consumption of lettuce can make your skin glow and reduce wrinkles. It helps to revitalize the skin and protect from UV radiation. It also helps in curing acne and pimples. Lettuce can improve the skin tone and keep the skin hydrated.
The essential minerals in lettuce can help you improve the metabolism effectively. It can improve the health of the intestines and digestive system, as they are rich in fiber.
Due to the mild sedative property, lettuce has been used to treat insomnia since ancient times. Eating a bowl full of lettuce salad or plain leaves, can reduce the tension in body and muscles. This will create a calming sensation in the body that will help to sleep peacefully.
Rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids
Lettuce contains the essential fatty acids in a good proportion. Consumption of lettuce in high amounts can help you get good dose of fatty acids. The essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are very important for healthy brain and body.
Helps to reduce weight
The fat free and calorie free nature of lettuce, makes it a wonderful food for people who want to reduce weight. It provides all nutrition required on a daily basis and also helps you to keep the cholesterol levels low.
How to buy and store
Lettuce is available in plenty in al departmental stores these days. You need to make sure that you buy only whole heads and not the leaves separately. When you buy lose leaves, you may not get the complete nutrition. Since it is a leafy vegetable, it is highly prone to pesticides and insecticide sprays, whenever you get the chance, buy only organic lettuce.
You can store lettuce in a refrigerator in a plastic bag or container. Do not wash the leaves before you store, they tend to bad very quickly. When you store, make sure you use the leaves within 3 to 4 days. Since they are leaves, they don’t last long.
How to include lettuce in food
You can include lettuce in your diet easily. You can add the fresh leaves in
- Vegetable Salads
- Noodles and fried rice
- Any seafood
You can toss, grill or cook lettuce in a stew. The great thing is that they hold the nutrition as it is like the uncooked leaves. Always consume lettuce along with other vegetables to absorb nutrition better.
As a word of caution, lettuce contains good amount of Vitamin K, which is not good for people who are under medication for blood thinning. Always clean the leaves thoroughly before use, as they might contain small worms and microorganisms that are harmful.