Myth or Fact?
For those who dabble in the realm of salad-eating, you must have heard, at one time or another, someone proudly proclaim that iceberg lettuce has, "no nutritional value," and that it tastes as bland as cardboard. Next time, you can politely correct this misconception that has given iceberg lettuce such a bad reputation. In fact, this veggie has most of the standard nutrients that other lettuce varieties have, but with even higher water content. Hence, when measured by weight against other types of lettuce, the iceberg variety may seem less nutrient-dense. However, it is a far cry from the myth that eating iceberg lettuce has zero nutritional value.
Iceberg lettuce, also commonly known as crisphead lettuce, was specifically cultivated to be mild to the palate and extremely crisp and crunchy in texture in comparison to other varieties. Its mild flavor, which could be interpreted as bland in a negative light, is actually a great edible "vehicle" for other more robust and heavily-flavored foods.
According to the USDA nutritional database, one cup of shredded iceberg lettuce includes the presence of these nutrients:
- Calcium: important in bone production and teeth growth.
- Phosphorus: this mineral is important in forming structural framework for our DNA.
- Potassium: also found in bananas, potassium regulates blood pressure and can help prevent stroke.
- Vitamin A: can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, and is commonly used cosmetically as an anti-aging super machine.
- Vitamin C: helps strengthen the immune system, reduce skin discoloration, and is a well-known antioxidant that play roles in cancer prevention.
- Vitamin K: this vitamin helps with blood clot formation, as well as promoting proper circulation.
- Folate: important in ensuring proper fetal development, folate also synthesizes DNA.
- Choline: this essential nutrient is anti-inflammatory, helps ensure a healthy pregnancy, and may help prevent liver diseases.
The database also indicates the presence of other trace minerals in iceberg lettuce. Indeed, this is far from having "no nutritional value," as deemed by the common misconception.
Ways to Eat Iceberg Lettuce
Are you still skeptical on how to incorporate iceberg lettuce into your diet? Try some of these tips on how to include this crisphead vegetable in your regular meals.
- Use whole leaves of iceberg lettuce as edible "cups" to hold your favorite shredded meat or stuffing and eat them whole.
- Pack iceberg lettuce into your favorite sandwich or burger for a satisfying and healthy crunch.
- Chopped icebergs are great in salads to add an extra crisp factor other varieties lack.
- For children who do not like vegetables, iceberg lettuce is a great introduction to adding more vegetable and fiber to their diet due to its mild flavor.
- Shredded iceberg lettuce can make delicious creamy coleslaws.
- Substitute your traditional sandwich bread or burger buns with iceberg lettuce for a low-carb alternative.
- Similarly, lettuce wraps are great ways to eat your food in a creative manner!
- They make fantastic, light counterbalances to flavorful, heavy dishes.
- This low-calorie, high water content vegetable could be a useful dieting food tool.
Other Delicious Varieties
Of course, crispheads are not the only variety of lettuce out there. There are also other tasty and delicious leafy greens you may want to try in your next salad, sandwich, stir-fry or stew:
- Romaine lettuce: Probably just as famous as iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce tends to be referred to as the "nutrient-dense" counterpart. It can have up to ten times more vitamin A than the iceberg variety, and is also a good source of folate. This dark leafy green is also high in antioxidants, and is commonly seen in Caesar salads.
- Bibb lettuce: Also known as butterhead lettuce, its name holds true to its buttery texture. It is a great source of folate and is popular in Europe.
- Chinese lettuce: Probably one of the more strong-flavored of the lettuce group, Chinese lettuce is commonly cooked in stews and stir-fry dishes due to its bitter flavor.
- Looseleaf lettuce: Easy to grow in home gardens, looseleaf lettuce has green and red varieties; the latter has more of a spicy "bite." Great in sandwiches, looseleaf lettuce is a household favorite.