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Health food of the month - Lettuce

June 2012  

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Diet & Supplements Index


lettuce Lettuce? A health food? We all know that lettuce is pretty well nothing, no real flavour, no substance, no goodness.

Actually there are more benefits to this humble garden vegetable that many realize. First of course is that lettuce is readily available, very affordable and doesn’t need cooking. When you eat lettuce, there is no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol and very few calories (15 calories per 100g). But surprisingly it does contact some key nutrients, albeit at fairly low levels.

Fresh lettuce leaves can provide some vitamin A and beta carotene. It also contains zeaxanthin. This is an important dietary carotenoid which is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea to help offer some protection against age related macular disease.

Lettuce also offers a level of vitamin K. Vitamin K has been established as helping to limit neuronal damage in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Then those lovely green leaves also contain folates and vitamin C and a wide range of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Of course no one is suggesting that lettuce is a key health food; its nutrient levels are low and limited, but it does nevertheless offer some useful additions in a diet. Even better, lettuce is such a good food to add to other ingredients to make a dish attractive but still healthy and it can be very useful for people on a strict diet.

Interestingly, lettuce can’t be preserved. You can’t freeze or dry it; it won’t pickle and will only keep for so long in a fridge. This means you really do have to eat it while it is fresh ensuring the nutrients it contains are still in their peak.

It is all too easy to overlook the humble lettuce with such a choice of exotic fruits and vegetables now available in the shops. But when you look at all the advantages, it really does make sense to regular include lettuce in your diet.



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