Lettuce is that green leafy food that we have all eaten at some time and that you may have in your fridge right now. But do you really know everything about lettuce? We’ll tell you.
The lettuce, scientifically known as lactuca sativa, is a herbaceous plant that due to the large number of varieties that exist and the ease of cultivation in greenhouses makes possible its consumption during all months of the year. It is one of the most prized vegetables because of its role in the vast majority of diets. In general, lettuce leaves are eaten raw, but there are some Asian varieties that, due to their hardness, require a previous cooking.
The origins of lettuce go back much further than you can imagine. It is born in the south of Europe and it expands for the rest of the continent throughout the Roman period, therefore, it has been consumed for more than 2000 years. There are written references to the varieties of lettuce used by the Romans, and in Egypt you can find engravings of this vegetable in some tombs from 4.500 B.C.
Nowadays, lettuce is consumed all around the world and is the most widespread leaf vegetable in the world. The leaves of the lettuce grow around the flower-shaped stem, like a rose and in each variety they grow in different ways. They can grow until their total expansion, giving rise to the romaine lettuce or, in other cases, they contract and form a bud, giving way to Little Gem variety. Although all varieties are very similar, lettuce leaves may be different among them: some are smooth, other toothed and others are branched.
Regarding agriculture, lettuce is a vegetable suitable for a fresh climate, its life cycle is between 60 and 90 days, from there, the plant becomes rough and prepares for flowering. Due to the more temperate climates of the summer months, this cycle is shortened considerably. The optimal temperature for growth is 15 to 18 degrees Celsius, if temperatures exceed 21 degrees, lettuce tends to expand the stem and creates a greater amount of latex that is bitter for the palate, therefore, it is a loss of taste value.
There are several varieties of lettuce that exist in the market but, without a doubt, two of the most recognized are the Romaine and the iceberg. Romaine lettuce is easy to identify because its leaves are long and crispy with a deep green color on the leaves outside. For its part, the iceberg has a rounded size and smaller than the Romaine. Another of its characteristics are its crisp green leaves.
The organoleptic properties of lettuce
Surely you do not know the full nutritional composition of the leaves of the lettuce, so we leave here all the information for every 100 grams of this vegetable. Start pointing because there are so many.
- Energy: 14 kcal 55 kJ
- Carbohydrates: 2.23 g
- Sugars: 0.8 g
- Fiber food: 1.1 g
- Fat: 0.22 g
- Proteins: 1.35 g
- Water: 95.63 g
- Retinol (Vitamin A): 166 μg
- β-carotene: 1987 μg
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 0.057 mg
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.062 mg
- Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5): 0.15 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.082 mg
- Vitamin C: 3.7 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.18 mg
- Vitamin K: 102.3 μg
- Calcium: 35 mg
- Iron: 1.24 mg
- Magnesium: 13 mg
- Manganese: 0.179 mg
- Phosphorus: 33 mg
- Potassium: 238 mg
- Sodium: 5 mg
- Zinc: 0.2 mg
(kJ = kilojoule; g = grams; μg = microgram; mg = milligrams)
About 90-95% of the content of lettuce is water, but this vegetable is rich in antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B9 and K) and minerals (phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium and amino acids). In addition, the greener outer leaves are the ones with the highest content of vitamin C and iron. The lettuces are also used in infusion as a mild anxiolytic that facilitates sleep, although a moderate dose of the alkaloids of lettuce has slightly aphrodisiac effects.
The benefits that lettuce brings to health
After letting you know all its nutritional contribution, you can not miss the benefits that the consumption of lettuce brings to your health. Surely you read some benefit that you did not even know that this vegetable offered, but knowing them in full, we know that from now on you will not be able to stop eating lettuce.
- Reduces muscle pain, whether natural or caused by some external injury.
- Helps mitigate tiredness, anemia and fatigue thanks to its high iron content.
- It helps fight skin aging in time, maintaining a healthy pH and a regulated organism thanks to its antioxidant properties.
- Lettuce helps to lower high cholesterol, also if it is consumed with other powerful foods that also have this task, it helps to fight it.
- If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, do not hesitate to eat lettuce, it will help strengthen your airways.
- It has been proven that lettuce is an important vegetable in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and those tedious symptoms that prevent you from having a good sleep routine.
- Because it helps regulate blood sugar levels, it becomes an ideal food for people with diabetes.
- If you want to avoid the retention of liquids, certainly the lettuce, like some vegetables, contains diuretic properties that will help you to fight it.
- Helps your circulation function to be optimal, making it ideal for the prevention of arteriosclerosis.
- Can regulate intestinal transit, avoiding gases and considerably reduce abdominal inflammation.
- Most varieties of lettuce are eaten raw, so it becomes a great benefit because they keep all the properties with a nice and fresh flavor. Besides, you save time by not having to cook, what else can you ask for?
Finally it is interesting to know that green leafy vegetables like lettuce have to be bought as fresh and green as possible. The color of the leaves of the lettuce must be bright green, because they wilt and yellow easily, so keep them in a drawer of the refrigerator, in a bag with holes. Do not forget that the leaves should be washed carefully by all the nooks before consumption.