Lettuce is unfairly considered boring or bland to a lot of people but if that’s the way you feel about lettuce I can guarantee you’re missing out on an amazing food that is full of nutrients and incredibly diverse.
I think the idea of lettuce being boring is the result of too many people thinking ice berg lettuce is the only kind out there when in fact there are seven main types of lettuce and then several different varieties in each type.
Because of the great diversity of lettuce there are many health benefits that make lettuce one of the earths most perfect foods. Here are just ten of the major health benefits of lettuce.
1. It is a low calorie food. One cup of lettuce has only twelve calories, because of this you can have a very large salad with a meal and easily stay within your daily calorie goal while never feeling hungry. In fact, your body burns calories while digesting lettuce so it is sometimes considered a zero or negative calorie food item.
2. It aides in weight loss. Lettuce contains naturally occurring cellulose which is a type of fiber and fiber aides in digestion. Fiber works by cleaning out your digestive system, clearing it of bile salt deposits and fat build up and burns calories in the process. This prevents cholesterol from building up which not only helps with your weight loss goals but keeps your heart healthy.
3. It is Heart Healthy. Along with fiber, lettuce is full of beta carotene and Vitamin C, both of these vitamins work hard to prevent cholesterol from oxidizing. If cholesterol is unable to oxidize then it can’t become dangerous plaque that builds up in your artery walls keeping your heart pumping strong.
4. Contains healthy fats. Lettuce doesn’t contain a lot of fat but the fat that it does have is a good ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. The body needs essential Omega 3 fatty acids and in a slightly smaller amount, Omega 6 fatty acids. These provide your body with energy. The ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids within lettuce keeps bad fats from being able to build up in your body.
5. Unconventional source of protein. Lettuce derives 20% of it’s calories from protein so you can be sure you’re getting a whole food when eating lettuce. As with all proteins, combining them with a second protein source keeps balance, the best way to balance the protein in lettuce is to enjoy a large salad of lettuce with a small amount of lean chicken or pasta, this will help reduce belly fat.
6. Can be used as a sleep aide. Lettuce contains a fluid called lactucarium which has a similar affect as opium but without any negative side effects. If you have trouble sleeping then before bed simply eat a few leaves or juice your lettuce for a healthy drink that will help you sleep.
7. Restores the body’s PH balance. Lettuce is an alkaline forming food which will create balance of the alkaline/acid properties of the body. When there is proper PH balance within your system your overall health is improved helping you be more energetic while awake, more restful sleep, and a clearer mind.
8. Low on the glycemic index. Because lettuce is so low in calories it’s often considered to have a zero glycemic load. If you are watching your blood sugar than eating foods low on the glycemic index will help you greatly, even if you’re not watching blood sugar, eating low glycemic index foods will help reduce body fat.
9. It is a whole food. Lettuce must be consumed fresh and raw. When freezing, cooking, or otherwise processing foods vital minerals and nutrients can be lost. Because of lettuces unique inability to be heavily processed all lettuce you find will have it’s nutrients and minerals fully intact which provides more whole nutrition to your body.
10. It’s delicious. There is no way to deny it, lettuce is delicious and makes a great, crunchy addition to sandwiches or as a replacement for the bread in sandwiches. Because there are so many different varieties of lettuce you can easily make a salad containing different lettuces and have amazing flavor without requiring salad dressing or an excessive amount of toppings.