The star of most salads, vital addition to burgers and sandwiches, and the low-calorie replacement in diet tacos – the humble lettuce is a staple in most chefs’ kitchens. But if you tend to let your lettuce wilt in the fridge or find yourself picking at it in salads, we’ve got a list of health benefits that it provides that might change your mind about it.
1. Aids Weight Loss
If you’re on a diet, lettuce is an ideal addition to your diet. All varieties of this vegetable are low in calories and are good sources of fiber. Studies have found that fiber increases satiety by adding bulk to food and expanding in the stomach. This prevents overeating and cuts down on the calories you consume in a day.1
2. May Prevent Inflammation-Related Disorders
Although inflammation is a normal, healthy response after an injury, chronic inflammation leads to chronic pain, redness, swelling, stiffness, and damage to normal tissues. Studies have found that lettuce reduced inflammation caused by biocatalysts like lipoxygenase which causes asthma, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and dermatitis as well as carrageenan which leads to bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, glucose intolerance, and food allergies.2 3
id="3">3. May Relieve The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Arthritis
Characterized by pain, swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the joints as well as morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour, inflammatory arthritis can be difficult to live with.4 Experts recommend that patients with this condition consume foods that lower inflammation. Since we’ve already established that lettuce has been found to lower inflammation, it’s no surprise that it features on most recommended foods list for patients with arthritis. In addition to this, a cup of romaine lettuce packs in 48.2 mcg of vitamin K, which accounts for 53% of your recommended daily intake, a vitamin that is also known to lower inflammation that causes arthritis.5 6 7
4. Prevents Age-Related Vision Loss
Lettuce may also contain trace amounts of vitamin A, which comes from beta carotene, whose yellow-orange is hidden by green chlorophyll pigments. The darker the green of lettuce, the more beta-carotene it will have.
With aging-related wrinkles and dark spots come vision problems. But, studies have found that consuming antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which lettuce is rich in, can prevent age-related macular degeneration. Other studies have shown that women on a high lutein diet were 23% less likely to develop cataracts as they aged. Consuming lettuce regularly can, hence, protect your vision.8 9 10
5. Lowers Cholesterol And Prevents Heart Disease
If you grow your own lettuce and find that it tastes bitter, the heat might be to blame for it. To combat this, wash and store the leaves in the refrigerator for a day or two. Much of the bitterness will disappear.
A cup of romaine lettuce offers 64 mcg of folate, which makes up for 16% of the recommended daily intake. Folate is a B vitamin that converts homocysteine and this process is important since unconverted homocysteine can damage blood vessels and lead to the accumulation of plaque, causing heart disorders. 11 In addition to this, lettuce is rich in vitamin A with a cup providing 205 mcg of it (29.28%) and vitamin C with 1.9 mg in a cup (2.53% RDA). Both nutrients help oxidize cholesterol and strengthen the arteries. They also improve blood flow and prevent heart attacks.12 13 14
In addition to this, studies have found that vitamins and antioxidants in lettuce can increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, in turn protecting against cardiovascular diseases.15 16
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
If you’re diabetic, adding lettuce to your diet can help keep your blood sugar levels in check. One study conducted on rats found that it contains actucaxanthin, an anti-diabetic carotenoid that lowers blood glucose levels and can be a potential tool for diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels in check.17
7. May Decrease The Risk Of Colon Cancer
The crispness in greens is due to moisture that’s retained in the cells. So, if on hot days, your lettuce looks a little weary, soaking the greens in cold water for a few minutes to rehydrate them will most often bring them back to life.18
As stated earlier, studies have found that lettuce reduced inflammation caused by biocatalysts like carrageenan, which is linked not only to IBD but also colon cancer.19 20 Additionally, lettuce is high in fiber, which has been found to slow down the development of colon cancer.21 22
8. May Fight Insomnia
If you can’t seem to be able to doze off at night, try lettuce. It contains a substance called lactur carium that helps promote sleep by sedating the nervous system. So a green salad with supper is a good option if you’ve been staring at your walls all night of late.23
|↑1, ↑21||Lettuce. Tufts University.|
|↑2, ↑20||Araruna, K., and B. Carlos. “Anti-inflammatory activities of triterpene lactones from Lactuca sativa.” Phytopharmacology 1, no. 1 (2010): 1-6.|
|↑3||Wisastra, Rosalina, and Frank Dekker. “Inflammation, cancer and oxidative lipoxygenase activity are intimately linked.” Cancers 6, no. 3 (2014): 1500-1521.|
|↑4||Inflammatory Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑5||Basic Report: 11251, Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw.
|↑6||The Ultimate Arthritis Diet. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑7||Dean, Elizabeth, and Rasmus Gormsen Hansen. “Prescribing optimal nutrition and physical activity as “first-line” interventions for best practice management of chronic low-grade inflammation associated with osteoarthritis: evidence synthesis.” Arthritis 2012 (2012).|
|↑8||Abdel-Aal, El-Sayed, Humayoun Akhtar, Khalid Zaheer, and Rashida Ali. “Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health.” Nutrients 5, no. 4 (2013): 1169-1185.|
|↑9||Four Fantastic Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy.
|↑10||Eating for Your Eye Health. North Dakota State University.|
|↑11||Ward, Mary. “Homocysteine, folate, and cardiovascular disease.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research 71, no. 3 (2001): 173-178.|
|↑12||Basic Report: 11251, Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw.
|↑13||Moser, Melissa, and Ock Chun. “Vitamin C and heart health: a review based on findings from epidemiologic studies.” International journal of molecular sciences 17, no. 8 (2016): 1328.|
|↑14||Sinning, Allan R. “Role of vitamin A in the formation of congenital heart defects.” The Anatomical Record: An Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists 253, no. 5 (1998): 147-153.|
|↑15||Nicolle, Catherine, Nicolas Cardinault, Elyett Gueux, Lydia Jaffrelo, Edmond Rock, Andrzej Mazur, Pierre Amouroux, and Christian Rémésy. “Health effect of vegetable-based diet: lettuce consumption improves cholesterol metabolism and antioxidant status in the rat.” Clinical Nutrition 23, no. 4 (2004): 605-614.|
|↑16||Lee, Jeung Hee, Penelope Felipe, Yoon Hyung Yang, Mi Yeon Kim, Oh Yoon Kwon, Dai-Eun Sok, Hyoung Chin Kim, and Mee Ree Kim. “Effects of dietary supplementation with red-pigmented leafy lettuce (Lactuca sativa) on lipid profiles and antioxidant status in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat high-cholesterol diet.” British journal of nutrition 101, no. 8 (2009): 1246-1254.|
|↑17||Gopal, Sowmya Shree, Magisetty Jhansi Lakshmi, Gurunathan Sharavana, Gunaseelan Sathaiah, Yadahally N. Sreerama, and Vallikannan Baskaran. “Lactucaxanthin–a potential anti-diabetic carotenoid from lettuce (Lactuca sativa) inhibits α-amylase and α-glucosidase activity in vitro and in diabetic rats.” Food & function 8, no. 3 (2017): 1124-1131.|
|↑19||Martino, John Vincent, Johan Van Limbergen, and Leah E. Cahill. “The role of carrageenan and carboxymethylcellulose in the development of intestinal inflammation.” Frontiers in pediatrics 5 (2017): 96.|
|↑22||Kunzmann, Andrew T., Helen G. Coleman, Wen-Yi Huang, Cari M. Kitahara, Marie M. Cantwell, and Sonja I. Berndt. “Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 102, no. 4 (2015): 881-890.|
|↑23||Kim, Hae Dun, Ki-Bae Hong, Dong Ouk Noh, and Hyung Joo Suh. “Sleep-inducing effect of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varieties on pentobarbital-induced sleep.” Food science and biotechnology 26, no. 3 (2017): 807-814.|