Lettuce was first cultivated in Egypt. Initially, it was regarded as a weed whose seeds were used to harvest oil. Later on, it emerged as a food plant grown for its succulent leaves and oil-rich seeds. Lettuce spread to the Greeks and Romans, the latter of whom gave it the name Lactuca, from which the English lettuce is derived. Lettuce is often used in a salad with an oil-and-vinegar dressing; However, they are also eaten raw. Even today, in numerous salad dressing, lettuce is among the main ingredient.
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.
Some of the health benefits of lettuce include lowering cholesterol levels, cancer control, protection of neurones, sleep induction, anxiety control, lowering inflammation, and providing a supply of antioxidants.
- Helps Weight Loss: Lettuce contains fibre and cellulose. Besides filling you up, fibre improves your digestion. Improving your digestion may not sound like a good thing for losing weight, but it is actually essential for long-term weight control.
Fibre 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!
- Lowers Cholesterol Levels: Lettuce can be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels that often lead to cardiovascular disease and other dangerous conditions. High cholesterol levels, particularly LDL or bad cholesterol levels, are harmful and can cause heart attacks and strokes. A study was conducted on mice to test the impact of lettuce consumption on fat and cholesterol. The results indicated a significant reduction of cholesterol levels compared to mice that weren’t fed lettuce. Lipid peroxidation was observed in most cases, which was concluded to be responsible for important this form of cholesterol control.
- Induces Sleep: One of the major traditional uses of lettuce in Unani medicine was its use as a sleep inducer. Research into the extracts of lettuce resulted in the isolation of a depressant chemical. This chemical, when administered in experimental animals, showed significant sedative effects. Decreased heart rate and ventricular contractions were also observed. This particular chemical acts by blocking the excitatory signal processes of muscular and neural tissues.
- Maintain Normal Alkaline Level: The minerals in lettuce help to remove toxins and keep your acid/alkaline balance in order. Once you are balanced on this level there is a host of benefits including greater energy, clearer thinking, deep restful sleep, and youthful skin.
- Anti-Cancer Properties: Lettuce leaf extracts can control certain type of cancer. Research on human cancer cells, particularly leukaemia cells and breast cancer cells, were controlled to a significant extent after being treated with lettuce extracts. The experiments also suggested that the weight ratio of human lettuce consumption required to kill 50% of leukaemia cells would be 3 kg.
Water – g 95.64
Energy – kcal 14
Protein – g 0.9
Total lipid (fat) – g 0.14
Carbohydrate, by difference – g 2.97
Fibre, total dietary – g 1.2
Sugars, total – g 1.97
Calcium, Ca – mg 18
Iron, Fe – mg 0.41
Magnesium, Mg – mg 7
Phosphorus, P – mg 20
Potassium, K – mg 141
Sodium, Na – mg 10
Zinc, Zn – mg 0.15
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – mg 2.8
Thiamin – mg 0.041
Riboflavin – mg 0.025
Niacin – mg 0.123
Vitamin B-6 – mg 0.042
Folate, DFE – µg 29
Vitamin B-12 – µg 0
Vitamin A, RAE – µg 25
Vitamin A, IU – IU 502
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – mg 0.18
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) – µg 0
Vitamin D – IU 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) – µg 24.1
Fatty acids, total saturated – g 0.018
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated – g 0.006
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated – g 0.074
Fatty acids, total trans – g 0
Cholesterol – mg 0
Caffeine mg 0
Source: Organic Facts, Care2, USDA