For decades, iceberg dominated the lettuce market. But these days, other varieties like butterhead, romaine, and firmer leaf-types are available and seen on many salads. did you know that more iceberg lettuce is grown in California than all other varieties combined? It’s cheaper to grow than the others and is an indispensable ingredient in many fast food meals. McDonald's buys the most iceberg lettuce in the world.
Lettuce is actually part of the daisy and sunflower family. It was originally cultivated by the ancient Egyptians. Originally the Egyptians used the lettuce seeds for their oil. There are 4 types of lettuce grown commercially today: cos/romaine, loose-leaf, crisphead, and butterhead. There are also a number of leafy salad greens, including endive, frisée, and radicchio, that are commonly referred to as lettuces, but are actually members of the chicory family of vegetables. They are thicker in texture, and taste slightly bitter. Since there’s no single kind of lettuce, there’s no definitive nutritional profile for the plant. The nutrient composition varies among the different types. That said, there are some generalizations that do apply.
Like many other plants, the darker the color, the more nutrition and antioxidants the lettuce contains. These nutrients typically include vitamins A, C, and K1, as well as select B vitamins (like folate). Lettuce leaves also often contain polyphenols, carotenoids, and flavonols. Green lettuce types contain more chlorophyll, while the red types provide more anthocyanins. By weight, the main nutrient in lettuce is water. Nutritionally, that’s not a bad thing, as many people need to drink more water than they currently do. Lettuce has a lot of fiber, which adds bulk to stools and helps with constipation.
Let us hear what you think about lettuce!
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