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Which Lettuce Should You Be Buying?
A diet rich in lettuce and other greens is always a good idea, but not all lettuces are created equal. At times, it is hard to know which you should avoid and which you should be incorporating into your salads and sandwiches. From romaine to iceberg, we've concluded which ones are the best and worst for a healthy diet.
Iceberg lettuce has light green, broad leaves with a mild, watery flavor and crunchy texture. Of the five lettuce types we compared, iceberg was the least nutritionally dense. While it is a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K and folate, it doesn't pack the same nutrient punch that other lettuce types can offer. However, one cup of shredded lettuce (72g) can provide 3% of your daily recommended fiber intake and is a great source of water.
There are two types of leaf lettuce - red-tip leaf and green leaf. Red-tip leaf lettuce has large "crumpled" leaves with medium to dark red coloration. It is a good source of vitamins A,C, K and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron and potassium. One cup of shredded red-tip leaf lettuce (36g) provides 24% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and has 39.3 micrograms of vitamin K.
Compared to red-tip leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce has a slightly stronger nutrient profile. This medium to dark green colored variety is also a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron and potassium. However, one cup of shredded green leaf lettuce (36g) has 53% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A and 45.5 micrograms of vitamin K. Compared to red-tip leaf lettuce, it has 38% more thiamin, 32% more riboflavin and 14% more vitamin B6 per cup. It also provides 11% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
Loose heads of butterhead lettuce have large, tender leaves that taste slightly sweet and have a soft texture. There are two main types of butterhead lettuce: Boston (or commonly referred to as Butter) and Bibb. Butterhead is a great source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, folate, iron, and potassium. One cup of shredded or chopped butterhead (55g) provides 56.3 micrograms of vitamin K and provides 4% of your daily recommended intake of iron, both values higher than many of the other lettuce varieties.
Romaine has dark green long leaves that have a deep taste and crisp texture. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K and folate and a very good source of fiber and four minerals including potassium and iron. Of your daily recommended values, one cup of shredded romaine lettuce (47g) provides 4% fiber, 82% vitamin A and 19% vitamin C. By the cup, it provides 36% more thiamin and more than 4.5 times the amount of folate than green leaf lettuce.
Incorporating more lettuce into your diet is always a good idea, and we recommend seeking out romaine lettuce for the best nutrition and avoiding iceberg lettuce.