Is Lettuce Good For You?

Historical Facts About Lettuce

Lettuce was first cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians who turned it from a weed whose seeds were used to produce oil, into a food plant. It was seen as a symbol of fertility.

It was served to Persian kings as early as the 6th century BCE.

Eventually, lettuce was grown by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks believed that lettuce made you sleepy. While, allegedly, the Roman Emporer, Augustus Caesar, built a statue for lettuce because he believed that eating it had helped him overcome a serious illness.

The Romans called it ‘Lactuca’ from which the English word ‘lettuce’ is derived from.

This vegetable travelled with the Romans into Western Europe and into China, who is now the largest producer of lettuce in the world.

It travelled in the other direction with Columbus who took it to the Bahamas in 1494.

Between the late 16th  and early 18th centuries, many varieties were developed in Europe.

These days, the most widely known are Romaine, Butterhead, Iceberg and Green Leaf. The Iceberg lettuce gets its name from the preservation method that was used at the beginning of the 20th century in California. Because fridges were not available to transport lettuce, train carriages were filled with icebergs that floated on top of the lettuces to prevent them from spoiling.

Random Facts About Lettuce

Its flowers contain both types of reproductive organs and can self-pollinate.

It can be grilled. I genuinely didn’t know this!

It is 95% water.

Dark green lettuce and leaves are more nutritious than light green ones.

Image from Word Press

Is Lettuce Good For You?

In a nutshell, yes it is. It contains antioxidants, fibre, calcium, iron potassium and vitamins A, C and K. It doesn’t contain fat or cholesterol. Lettuce may help with:-

1. Hydrating you. As stated above, lettuce is 95% water.

2. Promoting your brain health. Studies have shown that lettuce extracts, due to their significant role in glucose or serum deprivation (low blood sugar) help to prevent the death of neuron cells. Neurons are brain cells that make physical connections and help to make memories. Therefore, lettuce can help to prevent the onset of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s which are caused by the death of neuron cells.

3. Protecting your heart. Lettuce is rich in dietary nitrate which is converted to nitric oxide in the body. This conversion promotes endothelial function. The endothelium is a thin membrane in your heart that releases substances that causes your blood vessels to relax and releases enzymes that control blood clotting. If this doesn’t happen, you could be at risk of having a stroke or heart attack due to your arteries not dilating fully. Also, the potassium in lettuce can lower your blood pressure.

Image from Tenor

4. Fighting inflammation. An Iranium study has shown that lettuce contains a protein known as, lipoxygenase which controls inflammation; which can lead to many diseases like cancer.

5. Fighting cancer. Eating lettuce has been linked to a reduced risk of stomach cancer in Japan, where it is eaten regularly. Because lettuce is a non-starchy vegetable, it could protect against several types of cancers such as mouth, throat and oesophagus cancers.

6. Cutting the risk of diabetes. Studies have shown that Romaine lettuce may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. Sleeping. Lettuce contains lactucarium, a milky fluid, which can sedate your nervous system and help you to sleep.

Not bad for a bit of limp lettuce on your burger!

If you really want to reap the above benefits, then try to buy the dark green varieties like Romaine.

I’m not much of a salad eater. My partner is not keen on them and calls them, ‘rabbit food!’ However, I’m convinced enough to try and eat them more often. And, I might try to grill lettuce.

Have you eaten grilled lettuce?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading.

Rachel x


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11 responses to “Is Lettuce Good For You?”

  1. “Let us” have a look at the benefits 😆 Love that! I knew water was predominantly water but I hadn’t realised about the inflammatory control or brain health aspects. I used to eat loads of lettuce but not anymore. Definitely need to change that! xx

  2. I had no idea that lettuce had this many benefits! It has always been one of my favourite foods, even as a child which is lucky 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing with us the history and nutrition facts of lettuce. It’s a very popular salad ingredient. Good to learn that it naturally contains nitric acid.

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