Lettuce is the most commonly eaten green in the world. There are varying options when it comes to leafy greens as well as varying degrees of green. Summertime is when salads are the star of every meal. Make your salads with spinach, romaine, kale or arugula for more nutritious benefits. The darker the leaves, the more nutrient rich is the lettuce.
Dark leafy greens provide plenty of antioxidants, beta carotene, fiber and calcium. Lettuce is low in calories because there isn’t much carb, fat or protein found. Some varieties provide folate, potassium and iron to our bodies when consumed. It is always a good decision to include lettuce in your diet.
Health Benefits of Lettuce
For positive health outcomes, eat dark leafy greens. Lettuce decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases. Research has found that eating dark, fibrous vegetables lowers risk of Type II Diabetes. Other nutrients found in lettuce include vitamin C, beta carotene, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and other B-vitamins.
Adding a bit of fat not only brings flavor but it also helps with the absorption of certain nutrients. Use oil bases for salad dressings, sauté spinach and kale in a bit of avocado oil or add a bit of butter to help the greens go down. If you want to add more taste, texture or crunch to your salads add different toppings, like onion, bacon, egg or other produce to the bowl.
How to Cook Leafy Greens
Most leafy greens can handle cooking. Spinach can be sautéed, romaine lettuce can be grilled, kale can be cooked with rice, and others can be included in stews, casseroles or stir fry. Include spinach in your omelets and collard greens to your soups. If you choose to add to soup, be sure to include closer to the end of cooking to avoid destroying the nutrient content.
Naturally the best way to eat lettuce is to enjoy them raw. While some nutrient content is lost during cooking, the majority is still preserved during the process. In some cases the nutrient value is activated by cooking. If eaten raw bear in mind they may contain food poisoning bacteria, therefore thoroughly wash them before eating. Watercress is grown in water therefore there is always the danger that the water could have been contaminated. To avoid food poising wash in clean fresh water before handling.
Different Types of Lettuce
Look for different types of leafy greens in your local grocery store, farmer’s market or in your own garden. Here is a list of dark leafy greens to add to your meals:
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Bok Choy
- Dandelion Greens
- Beet Greens
Leafy greens are especially good for vegans who may have trouble consuming enough calcium per day. Leafy greens can help to fill that void by providing a calcium boost to your diet. Calcium is often overlooked in diets but this can be detrimental in the long run. We consume calcium for the benefits later in life. As we age osteoporosis is more likely to occur. The best way to avoid this is to consume calcium now for benefits later.
Garden Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- ¼ red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 1 cup of raspberries (frozen)
- ¼ cup avocado oil, lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 carrot – thinly sliced
- 2 scallions chopped
- 5 cups mixed salad greens
- ½ cucumber, quartered
- ¾ cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup feta cheese
- In a blender add red wine vinegar, raspberries, avocado oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper
- Place in refrigerator until needed.
- In a salad bowl mix together salad greens, cucumber, carrot, scallions, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.
- Drizzle raspberry vinaigrette on top of each portion and serve.