10 Health Benefits of Lettuce

Lettuce has been called ‘the perfect weight loss food’ and ‘rabbit food’ but it is so much more. With amazing healing benefits and 20% protein by calories it could be called ‘gorilla food’ instead.

Learn about the types of lettuce and discover all the nutrition benefits and history of this amazing powerfood, and its few concerns.

Types of Lettuce

different types of lettuce and salad ingredients
Different types of lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce – This is your classic Greek salad. Sweet and crunchy.
  • Iceberg lettuce – Crisphead.  White on the inside.  Crisp texture and mild taste.
  • Butter lettuce – Boston and Bibb lettuce. Large green leaves that are soft and sweet.
  • Red and Green Leaf:  delicate taste and leaves.
  • Devils lettuce
Arugula, watercress and mizuna are NOT classified as lettuce but are often mixed with lettuce in salads.  They have similar nutritional benefits.

As you might guess, my personal favorite is Romaine.

I love the taste and nutrition but it is also much less likely to spoil than some of the others. I always have many bags of organic romaine heads in my fridge.  I also keep a tub of organic field green or spring mix but much less since it spoils so easily.

Romaine Lettuce

romaine lettuce nutrition far outweighs the other types of lettuce
Choose romaine lettuce if you can instead of iceberg.

Romaine lettuce has one of the highest nutritional values in the lettuce category.  Most people are familiar with most of these types of lettuce but of them all, iceberg has the least nutrition.

Romaine lettuce Nutrition is Superior

Comparing the two, Romaine lettuce has:

  • Less sugars and sodium
  • Twice the protein
  • Twice the calcium
  • Three times the Vitamin K
  • Four times the iron
  • Eight times the Vitamin C
  • Seventeen times the Vitamin A (Nutritional data originally from USDA SR-21)

This follows the general rule to choose reds and green and dark coloured foods over whites.

This means that red and green leaf lettuce is more nutritional than iceberg also.

Health Benefits of Lettuce

  1. The Calories in Lettuce are Low and Almost no Fat.

    Lettuce has only 12 calories for 1 shredded cup. This is why it is so good for weight loss.

  2. High in Fiber and Cellulose

    Another reason it is good for weight loss.

    This fiber also helps remove bile salts from the body. When the body replaces these salts it breaks down cholesterol to do so.  This is why lettuce is also good for your heart!

  3. Lettuce is Heart Healthy

    Lettuce’s vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.  This prevents the build up of plaque.

  4. Omega-3 Fatty acids.

    Romaine lettuce has a 2/1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.  That’s a great ratio.

    Calories in lettuce are not significant because there is so little fat. UNLESS you eat a lot but we actually suggest you do.

  5. Complete Protein

    Romaine lettuce has 20 % of its calories in protein.

    Like all whole foods, much of the protein in lettuce is complete but that amount can be increased by combining with balancing proteins.

    Question:  What does a 400 pound gorilla eat at the salad bar?

    Answer:  Anything he wants to!

    I don’t imagine gorillas gain all that muscle by just eating lettuce but here is a short video of one doing that very thing!

  6. Helps with Insomnia

    The white fluid that you see when you break or cut lettuce leaves is called lactucarium.

    Lactucarium has relaxing and sleep inducing properties similar to opium but without the strong side effects. Simply eat a few leaves or drink some lettuce juice.

  7. Lettuce is Alkaline Forming

    The minerals in lettuce help to remove toxins and keep your acid/alkaline balance in order.  Once you are balanced on this level there are a host of benefits including greater energy, clearer thinking, deep restful sleep, and youthful skin.

    To read more go to Balance Your Body – With Alkaline Balance.

  8. Low Glycemic Index

    Lettuce has an average glycemic index of 15 but because it has so few calories its glycemic load is considered zero.

    For anyone watching their blood sugars for medical reasons this is great.  Low glycemic index also is great of weight management.

  9. Whole live food

    Lettuce is almost always eaten raw which has many micronutrients not found in cooked or processed food.  Eating raw food also adds vital energies not isolated or recognized by nutritional science.

    The large food corporations have not found a way to package lettuce long term or stick it in cans or boxes.  Let’s hope they never do!
    In fact, lettuce is one of the few foods which can be found organic and prewashed already in bins for you to eat immediately.

  10. Lettuce Tastes Great.

    Even though lettuce has very low calories, many varieties still have a sweet taste.

    To get maximum benefit from your food you should really WANT to eat it with your whole body not just your mind saying it is good for you. If you like the bitter taste you can find that too!

Interesting Facts and History:

butter lettuce
Butter Lettuce
  • Lettuce is part of the daisy and thistle family!
  • Lettuce was served on the tables of the Persian kings – 6th century B.C
  • It was revered by the Greeks and Romans for basic food and medicine (sleep induction)
  • Emperor Caesar Augustus built a statue praising lettuce as he believed eating it had cured him of an illness!
  • The Chinese consider lettuce good luck and make sure eat it on special occasions.
  • Lettuce was introduced to North America by none other than Christopher Columbus.
  • Wild lettuce is common around the globe.

Unless you buy organic, lettuce can contain a lot of toxins and pesticides. This is because:

  1. It has a high surface to weight ratio.
  2. Bugs and microorganisms love those tender lettuce leaves just as much as you.

Therefore:  Lettuce in on the list of Dirty Dozen – those foods you SHOULD buy organic. Discover the other 11 foods here:  12 Foods You Must Eat Organic.

Luckily organic lettuce is getting more and more available.

Lettuce Recipes:

lettuce leaf
Perfect Vegetable Juice:    Juicing is the perfect food for those with poor digestion and significant health challenges.

Green Raspberry Smoothie/Pudding:  It’s a healthy smoothie.  It’s a tasty dessert.  Whatever you wish!

Green Nori Salad:  Enjoy the benefits of lettuce plus the nutritional punch from sea vegetables.

Alkalizing Mixed Green Salad:  This is your basic wonderful salad with lots of tastes and textures.

100+ Superfoods

Learn more about the most nutritious vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your fridge or growing on your deck.

READ: Superfoods – The most nutritious plants on the planet and learn more about the benefits of a plant based diet

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Randy Fritz

A certified Nutritional Consultant, Randy has been teaching health and personal development principles for over 30 years and has personally helped individuals with over 10,000 Body Health Assessments.

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24 Comments

  1. it was wonderful reading enormous benefits of lettuce . I have it growing in my garden ,
    I’ll use them in larger quantities. Thanx!

    1. Hi Minnie,
      Good to hear that! I must say though, if you have lettuce growing in your garden RIGHT NOW, I am jealous! Most of my garden in under one foot of snow. Some of it is under three feet of snow.
      Randy

  2. Interesting information about the nutrition facts. Romain lettuce is my antacid. I eat it plain by the leaf. Thank you for your informative newsletter.

  3. That’s righ, Randy. I usually eat enough lettuce and other veggies to prevent heartburn, but when it does happen I’ll eat 2-3 leaves of romain and that settles it right down. The large green leaves are the most effective.

  4. First of all we are must thank you very much indeed.
    And second one we must appreciated to you for your excellent site.

  5. This has seriously done a lot of good to my psyche. I’m happy I came across this article. I feel healed already. Thanks for sharing this useful info.

  6. Sorry, but no lettuce on earth contains 20% protein! If so it would be a superfood… Fillet steak has around 20% protein but for lettuce it’s more like 2%.

  7. Greetings Randy,

    My P.A. shared that iceberg is likely to aggravate heartburn more than Romaine!!!
    Why is that?
    Enjoy your site

  8. Because I have insomnia, taking care of my health is very important to me. However, I had no idea that the lactucarium in the lettuce could help with that. How often should I be eating lettuce to be able to benefit from its relaxing and sleep inducing properties?

  9. Thank you Randy
    Your infirmation was very useful to me .now l know the difference between iceberg and romaine thank you for your tip and nutritional value.
    It was a brilliant write up and well put together. I will definately start eating more romaine lettuce .
    Thank you
    Christine

  10. Thank you Randy
    Your infirmation was very useful to me .now l know the difference between iceberg and romaine thank you for your tip and nutritional value.
    It was a brilliant write up and well put together. I will definately start eating more romaine lettuce .
    Thank you
    Christine

  11. Mr. Fritz, thank you, I loved your article. Also, I was very interested to read that romaine helps a readers stomach upsets. Is it the fiber? I wonder, does heating lettuce ruin or reduce its health benefits? My SO won’t eat salad so I hide handfuls of it in homemade soup. Thank you so much.

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