Lettuce - Complete guide

Lettuce - Complete guide

Many people today simply can't imagine a lunch without lettuce. Lettuce has been grown for over a thousand years and is a perfect addition to the main dishes all over the world. Although some will claim that lettuce has no real nutritional value, that's not true. All kinds of lettuce are sources of Vitamins K and A, some sorts has it more, of course. If you ever wonder about all the benefits of these vegetables, what it best pairs with, how to grow it in your own garden, and can your pets enjoy it too, this article will help you and give you certain guidelines.

 

Lettuce history

Lettuce originates from Egypt, back in 2700 B.C. in Nile Valley. At first, it actually was a weed-like plant but over some time it was treated to remove bitterness. Greeks were the first people to serve lettuce as a salad. It was something that came before the main meal and helps with digestion. Years later there were more and more sorts of lettuce and it spreads across the Roman Empire. Actually, the word - lettuce comes from the Roman word Lactuca, which means milk because of the milky sap that comes from the plant. Later, lettuce was transported over Europe and Asia and every culture added something new in taste, color, or growing conditions. Today, lettuce is a worldwide known addition to almost every main meal.

 

The health benefits of lettuce

It's proven that all lettuces have some healthy nutritional benefits. Some sorts more than others but it all depends on growing conditions. But here is one tip on how you can be sure that your lettuce is full of nutritional values. The darker the color of the lettuce is, the more nutritional values it has. 

Helps with weight loss - Lettuce is very high in fiber and low in calories and can easily make you feel full without eating carbs or fat. 

Controls inflammation and digestion - Lipoxygenase, a special protein in lettuce can help you in controlling inflammation. Also, lettuce has been used in many cultures to help inflamed tissues, which helps in digestion too.

Improve heart health - Another important and great contribution of lettuce. Vitamins A, C, and potassium are contained in large quantities and will improve your blood flow and pressure. It will also help you if you have problems with anemia or low iron. 

Improve brain health - Lettuce is also very rich with dietary nitrate which can help you with some neurological disorders.

Supports a diabetic diet - Darker colored lettuce is perfect for this because it contains lactucaxanthin, an anti-diabetic carotenoid. In general, lettuce doesn't rais blood sugar as much as other food. 

Supports vision health - Lettuce has zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that improves vision health.

Strengthen bones, improve skin and hair - Vitamins K, A, and C are there for the health of your bones. Potassium increases blood circulation and that way contributes to skin health.

 

Does lettuce has protein?

Yes, lettuce has protein but how much depends on the type and of course, the size of your meal. For example, if we start from the lowest amount of protein you can find in 100 g of lettuce that would be iceberg with 0.9 g of protein. Also with 14 kcal and the amount of Carbohydrate about 2.9 g. So the difference between highest and lowest amount of protein you can find in any lettuce is 0.46 g per 100 g. The highest amount of protein you can find in red leaf and it's 1.36 g of protein per portion of 100 g. 

 

Keep lettuce fresh longer

There is a pretty simple way how to keep your lettuce fresh longer. The first thing you need to do is to wash lettuce and take off all old and damaged leaves. The next step is to dry it, it would be great if you have a salad spinner, if not you can use a paper towel or dish towel for this. Wrap your lettuce in a dry paper and put it in a plastic bag or container. For correct temperature and moisture keep your lettuce in one of the drawers of your fridge. From time to time, if the towel paper feels to wet, make sure to replace it, so check your lettuce every two days. 

This way you can have and enjoy in your lettuce for about 10 days. Heads of lettuce have longer fridge life, it depends on the variety but some of them can last for even three weeks. If it smells bad or feels slimy throw it away.

 

Top 3 the healthiest lettuce

As we already said, eating lettuce is very healthy but some types are healthier than others. We will present to you three of the healthiest types below. 

1. Watercress

Watercress

This is probably the best green you could eat. This lettuce contains even four-time more beta carotene than apple, for example. Also, in 100 g of this product, you will find 238 percent of your daily dose of vitamin K. Mentioned components will keep your skin youthful and nice. Another impressive fact about watercress is PEITC (phenylethyl isothiocyanate) which is also found in it and it's proven that can be helpful in the battle against cancer. 


2. Chinese cabbage

Chinese cabbage

Second place is deserved due to the high proportion of calcium and iron. This lettuce also helps against heart diseases. There was a study in China among 1000 women that proves a woman who eats this vegetable, about 1.5 cups per day had 13% less inflammation than those who eat very small portions. 


3. Chard

Chard

This lettuce could be your best defense against diabetes. It's also proven that this vegetable contains about  13 different polyphenol antioxidants that are very effective against diabetes.

 

Nutrition Facts

Calories 45
Fat 0.5g
Sodium 32mg
Carbohydrates 9.6g
Fiber 3.9g
Sugars 6.4g
Protein 2.9g

 

Is lettuce keto-friendly?

Available throughout the whole year in every restaurant lettuce is a very appreciative food. Although lettuce is usually the base of a salad, you can also use it as a replacement for bread to make a sandwich. Any lettuce with big leaf will do the job, the perfect example is romaine or butter lettuce. It's very hard to overeat lettuce. For instance, one cup of shredded lettuce has 1.3 g of net carbs but at the same time, it's very rich with potassium and sodium and vitamins A and K. There are many types of lettuce and all of them are great for keto.

 

How to use wild lettuce?

Wild lettuce is a type of plant that has many positive effects, especially in medicine. Today, it's used for asthma, trouble sleeping, painful menstrual periods, cough, and poor circulation. Wild lettuce is safe for all people but in small amounts. Bigger amounts can slow breathing and even cause death. Inflicting wild lettuce directly on your skin may cause irritation. Larger amounts will cause sweating, pupil dilation, and vision changes. There is no defined dose on how much wild lettuce you can use. It depends on your age, health, and other conditions. Always remember that all-natural products are risky to take on your own. Ask for advice from your pharmacist or physician before usage. 

 

Can my dog eat lettuce?

Well, the short answer is yes, your dog can eat lettuce but everything in moderation. For example, spinach is healthy with Vitamins A, B, C, and K but also oxalic acid that can lead to kidney damage. Lettuce is very fibrous, so it can be hard to digest in some situations. Make sure to chop it up into small pieces rather than give it a whole leaf, especially if we talk about puppies. Keep in mind that 90% of lettuce is water so nutritional content for pets overall is pretty low, but it contains beta-carotene. Also, never give leftovers to your dog because your salad probably includes other ingredients that can harm your little friend. But, it's okay to give your dog a piece of lettuce from time to time.

 

Can my cat eat lettuce?

Pretty much the same as with dogs, lettuce is safe to eat for cats. If you are looking for something to feed your cat because she likes your houseplants maybe a little too much or you just want to add some fiber to your cat's diet, lettuce can be an answer. Of course, always keep in mind that lettuce is in some way a dietary supplement, not food to feed your cat only with that. Cats are carnivores and they need meat to survive. They cannot get all the nutrients from plant food such as lettuce. But still, lettuce can help them in many ways. If your cats have problems with weight, lettuce can be the solution. Lettuce is a low-calorie food and is perfect for cats on diet. If your cat eats more than once per day, you can use lettuce to prevent overfeeding. Another great thing for cats is that lettuce has a high percentage of water and could be a solution for cats who eat a lot of dry food. They still need to drink as much as possible water, but this could help. Also, vitamin K and vitamin A especially, but other vitamins too are healthy for cats as much as for human beings. 

 

Can rabbits eat lettuce?

Rabbits actually adore lettuce. If you break a stalk of lettuce you will find white fluid. That fluid is like an opium for rabbits so when they eat lettuce they can go in a mild trance and feel relaxed. Everything must be in moderation, otherwise, it can be fatal. Romaine and lamb's lettuce are safe for rabbits and as we said earlier, the darker the leaves are, the better and healthier it is. Iceberg lettuce is forbidden for rabbits because it contains lactucarium that can be fatal for these animals. 

 

Can horses eat lettuce?

As well as previous animals, horses can also eat lettuce. But we know that lettuce is not known for a high percentage of calories so feeding your horse only with lettuce won't be enough for his needs. Great thing about lettuce and horses is water they can get, especially during hot summer days. It's also easily digestible so your horse can eat that freely. However, pay attention to the iceberg lettuce because as we already mentioned it includes some nutritional values that can hurt animals, so better avoid this type of lettuce. If you keep your lettuce in the fridge, before serving it to your horse, make sure it's dry and cool because wet lettuce may cause bloating. 

 

Final thoughts

To sum up, lettuce is a healthy food option and a great addition to your main meal. Choose your favorite one and mix it all together for complete enjoyment. As for people, lettuce is a great source of water and minerals for animals too. So feel free to serve a salad to your pet sometimes.