Lettuce: Not just the Iceberg


This article was originally published on my website http://www.yourveglife.com/lettuce. You can read it there too.

lettuce_1If you love summer, you probably love big salads with beautiful lettuce. The one most familiar to you is the infamous iceberg lettuce found even at McDonald’s. It doesn’t exactly have the best of reputation considering its overuse by the junk food industry from fast food restaurants all the way to the School Lunch Program.

However, we do have a lot of other choices for great salads as well as juicing: Arugula, Butter or Boston lettuce, Little Gem Lettuce, Mesclun, Mizuna, Mache, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Purslane, Watercress and Romaine, etc… I bet you have never heard of some of these. Start exploring your local health food store or farmers’ market and find some delicious organic lettuces from green to purple and turn them into culinary delights.

Lettuces are packed with nutritional benefits. They also have the advantage of being VERY low calories, making them ideal if you try to lose weight. So eat a lot of lettuce instead of high fat food. The fiber in lettuce will make you feel full, thereby reducing your calorie intake.

Lettuces’ richness is in their phyto-nutrients (phyto = plant), which, like all plant foods, is what the body craves to prevent disease. Eating a little bit of salad each day provides over 200% of your requirement in Vitamin A and Beta Carotene (the body converts the Beta Carotene to Vitamin A). Beta Carotene has a positive effect on health issues like asthma, cancer, depression, high blood pressure, headaches and even infertility. So instead of taking dangerous Vitamin A supplements, just eat a big salad during lunch time. Vitamin A is essential for a healthy skin and good vision.

Lettuce is also loaded with Vitamin K, which is essential to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and helps increase bone mass, therefore protecting from osteoporosis.

Vitamin C and Folate are also very present in this green wonder. Folate is essential for a normal pregnancy. And according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Folic Acid supplements are in fact dangerous and should be avoided as they increase risks of breast cancers by at least 20%. Folate also contribute to the formation of DNA. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and helps combat infections. As a matter fact, beside my Vitamin C packed whole foods, Vitamin C is one of the very few supplements I will take if I feel bad germs coming. I will take 2,000 mlg on the day of the onset. Usually, whatever the problem was will just disappear. However, on normal days, I get my Vitamin C from whole foods.

Other goodies contained in lettuces are Zea-Xanthin, a carotenoid which is thought to protect from the sun’s UVs as well as macular disease. So eat your salad also with lots of carrots.

And let’s not forget the minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese which are essential for the body’s well being. Their benefits vary from regulating body fluids, controlling the heart rate, the blood pressure to the production of red blood cells in the case of copper and iron. It is also rich in B vitamins, except for B12 which needs to be supplemented (it is the only one).

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is by far my favorite of all lettuces. It has a wonderful flavor and crunchiness I can’t resist. And added with avocados, tomatoes, kale and other wonderful flavors like sprouted seeds, it makes me salivate thinking about it. It is also one of the most nutrient rich while iceberg is one of the poorest. In fact, Romaine Lettuce is the 13th most nutrient dense food in the world!

A very Short history

Romaine lettuce was first grown in the Mediterranean area and has been around since at least the 5th century in China. It was brought to North America by Christopher Columbus in 1493.

Benefits

Very rich in iron, and therefore a great booster of red blood cells, you are strongly encouraged to eat a lot of it to reduce your anemia.

Romaine Lettuce and protein

For those afraid of not having protein with lettuce (beside the fact that deficiency in protein is a myth in the western world), lettuce is 50% PROTEIN!! by calorie and 18% essential fats. That is more protein per calorie than chicken. And by the way, ALL proteins come from plants. Plants have all the building blocks to make protein. And unlike humans and other animals who can produce a limited amount of protein, plants can produce a much larger amount. Humans and other animals have to source the rest from food. So we need to stop believing the myth that proteins have to be acquired from flesh and other animal products. That is a marketing myth and it has been successful in selling lousy products and a lot of suffering for innocent victims (the animals).

Salads, not flesh, should make the bulk of our diet. It is the natural diet of primates, which we belong too in the animal realm. So, it is time for people to revise their old held beliefs that we are either carnivores or omnivores. That is not based in any scientific truth, only, once again, in good marketing.

A word of caution

Because conventional lettuce is pesticides intensive, it is very important that you buy it Organic (or even Veganic if you’re lucky to have veganic agriculture in your area).

Eat your greens, live healthy!

References:

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Romaine Lettuce? http://www.livestrong.com/article/488195-what-are-the-nutritional-benefits-of-romaine-lettuce/

Lettuce nutrition facts http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/lettuce.html

Nutrition Facts of lettuce http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2475/2

Lettuce is the New Chicken http://www.nutrientrich.com/eat-for-health/lettuce-is-the-new-chicken.html

Dr. Fuhrman warns: Do Not take multivitamins that contain folic acid.. http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/folic_acid_dangers_and_prenatal_vitamins.aspx

© Copyright 2012 from YourVegLife.com – All Rights Reserved – Printing by permission only.

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