Romaine lettuce is one of the fastest growing vegetables in terms of popularity and has the potential to provide important antioxidants and broad health benefits in people’s diets. Many people know that certain lettuces, such as iceberg lettuce, tend to be lower in nutrients than other varieties, and sometimes people can confuse romaine lettuce as belonging to this low nutrient category. However, the nutrition of romaine lettuce is really impressive due to its high level of antioxidants and other crucial vitamins and minerals including folate, manganese and more. Thanks to its long-lasting nature and its resistant “crispy”, romaine lettuce not only adds nutrients to your salads, sandwiches or other recipes, but also variety in terms of texture and flavor. It is one of the most appreciated lettuces for having a mild and non-bitter taste that discourages some people from eating green leafy vegetables regularly.
Due to its great taste, ease of use, versatility in recipes and high nutritional profile, there is no reason not to include romaine lettuce in your diet regularly.
History of Romaine Lettuce:
Romaine lettuce, which is often called “cos lettuce” in other areas of the world, is a variety of lettuce from the family of long-flowering plants Lactuca sativa L. var. Romaine lettuce grows on a tall head with sturdy leaves and has firm ribs in the center. Many sources trace the appearance of romaine lettuce to the Greek island hundreds of years ago, where it got its name for the first time from the island of Cos, where the lettuce was first introduced. Romaine lettuce spread to Rome, where it was given the Italian name “Roman”, when it came from Rome. It is still consumed today in the Mediterranean region of the world and has become popular in other parts of the world, especially as the main ingredient of the «Caesar salad». Romaine lettuce has long been used in traditional Easter Seders as a type of bitter herb. It is used to symbolize the “bitterness” that the Israelites felt when they were kept as slaves in Egypt thousands of years ago. Romaine lettuce is also popular in parts of the Middle East and throughout North America.
Nutritional Values of Romaine Lettuce:
A portion of a cup of romaine lettuce has, in percentage of daily values:
- 8 calories
- Almost 0 grams of sugar, protein and fat
- 5 grams of fiber
- 82% vitamin A
- 60% vitamin K
- 19% vitamin C
- 16% folate
- 4% manganese
- 3% iron
- 3% potassium
10 Health Benefits of Romaine Lettuce:
Here are the 10 benefits of romaine lettuce for health:
1. Excellent Source of Antioxidants Vitamin A and Vitamin C:
Vitamin A and vitamin C are powerful antioxidants that play a critical role in maintaining the function of many parts of the body. They do this by fighting against free radicals that can accumulate in the body and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Free radicals occur naturally within your body from everyday actions, including the consumption of processed foods until exposure to toxins, pollutants or radiation. There are numerous health benefits of eating plants that contain vitamin A and vitamin C, such as romaine lettuce, because antioxidant vitamin A stops inflammation and oxidative stress, which can cause damage to tissues and cells. Only a 2-cup serving of romaine lettuce provides 164% of your daily vitamin A and 38% of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin A and vitamin C found in romaine lettuce nutrition are partly responsible for gene regulation and cell differentiation, and act to prevent damage caused by free radicals to overwhelm the body and cause diseases. Both are responsible for helping the health of sight and skin and play an important role in maintaining strong bones and increasing immunity.
2. Help Prevent Bone Loss:
Green leafy vegetables are often considered the best natural vegetable source of vitamin K. Romaine lettuce is no exception, as it is a great source of vitamin K for bone formation.
“In fact, studies have shown that vitamin K2 can help increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis even better than calcium”.
In addition to building and maintaining a healthy skeletal structure, vitamin K plays a vital role in blood clotting, bruising healing, aid in bone calcification, and help prevent many diseases.
3. Improves Heart Health:
Romaine lettuce is a great source of folate, also sometimes called folic acid. Folate is a type of vitamin B that is used by the body to convert homocysteine, which, when not converted, can lead to heart problems, including damaged blood vessels and dangerous plaque buildup. The nutrition of romaine lettuce also provides vitamin A and vitamin C, two antioxidants that play a role in heart health by oxidizing cholesterol and keeping arteries strong. These antioxidants help prevent accumulation in the walls of the arteries that form the plaque. They also increase blood flow and help prevent blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
4. Promotes the Health of the Eyes Vista Eyes:
The rich supply of vitamin A and C found in romaine lettuce helps protect against eye disorders. Deficiencies in these antioxidants can lead to thickening of the cornea, glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and possibly even blindness as one gets older. Studies have shown that antioxidant beta-carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plants, including romaine lettuce, plays an important role in preventing macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness. Research has shown that people who consume vitamin A and vitamin C from a healthy diet or supplements are less likely to suffer eye damage as they age.
5. Helps Heal the Skin and Prevent the Signs of Aging:
The high amount of vitamin A found in romaine lettuce is essential for skin health. Studies show that a deficiency in this critical vitamin can lead to a bad complexion. Vitamin C also helps form collagen in the skin, which is responsible for forming firm and healthy skin and preventing loss of elasticity. Both antioxidants work together to stop the cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer. In addition, romaine lettuce provides nutrients that help defend against acne and inflammation, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins and more. The nutrition of romaine lettuce can help get rid of acne, since it has a low glycemic index score, while a diet full of foods high in the glycemic index, including a large amount of sugar, has been shown to be related with acne
6. Increase Immunity:
Vitamin C and vitamin A, two of the nutrition stars of romaine lettuce, are known as potent immune system stimulants. Vitamin A is involved in several functions of the immune system, including the regulation of genes involved in autoimmune responses. The vitamin A found in romaine lettuce helps fight infections, heal the skin and nourish the digestive system so that it can properly absorb nutrients from food and defend against the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Vitamin C can help benefit your immune system by reducing inflammation, helping digestive health and helping nutrients be absorbed and used properly. It also plays an important role in your body’s ability to fight common colds, the flu and viruses. Your body does not produce vitamin C by itself naturally and depends on foods rich in vitamin C. The body also does not store vitamin C, therefore it is important that you get this essential vitamin frequently from whole food sources, including vegetables from Green leaf like romaine lettuce.
7. It Can Help Fight Cancer:
Studies have shown that chlorophyll pigment in dark green leaves, such as romaine lettuce, can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including colon cancer and liver cancer. And studies show that low diets in green leafy vegetables are associated with an increased risk of cancer. The antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin C are also known to help treat various forms of cancer thanks to their ability to control malignant cells in the body and protect against DNA damage. A diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A and vitamin C found in romaine lettuce has been correlated with a decreased risk of lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral and skin cancer.
8. Help Maintain a Healthy Pregnancy:
It has been shown that consuming enough folate, such as that found in romaine lettuce, helps prevent several birth defects and promotes a safe and vibrant pregnancy. Folate does this by contributing to an adequate weight at birth of the fetus, to the healthy formation of the neural tube and to the proper development of the face and heart of the fetus. For pregnant women, a deficiency of folate (also called vitamin B9) can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida. There is actually a difference between folate, the natural form of multiple B vitamins, and folic acid in terms of health benefits. While many people think they are interchangeable and that both are important for a healthy pregnancy, folate is the preferred source found naturally in food. When people consume large amounts of folic acid through vitamins and synthetically fortified foods, the body cannot break it down and then high levels of un metabolized folic acid remain. This is problematic for all people, especially for pregnant women, and has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer and other diseases.
A deficiency of folate can also contribute to the formation of anemia (poorly formed red blood cells), poor immune function and poor digestion in women who are not pregnant. To combat these diseases, obtain folate naturally from whole food sources, including green leaves such as romaine lettuce.
9. Can Help with Weight Loss:
Romaine lettuce is extremely low in calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fat, but high in nutrients and water content. Due to its low caloric density but high nutrient content, you can eat as much romaine lettuce as you want even when trying to lose weight. The water and fiber found in romaine lettuce causes them to fill and helps the body shed the swelling and excess weight of the water, while you begin to practice a healthier diet in order to reach your weight healthy desired.
10. Aids Digestion and Bowel Health:
Romaine lettuce is one of the bitter herbs spoken of in the Bible. But it is praised as one of the “bitter herbs” that is still a bit sweet, which is why it combines so well with so many different salty and sweet foods. It has long been known that the nutrition of romaine lettuce not only facilitates digestion, but is also used as a wonderful source of fiber. Easy to add to your diet, its high content of water, minerals and fibers help keep things moving throughout digestion and also helps eliminate toxins from your body.
How to Buy Romaine Lettuce?
In the United States, the vast majority of harvested romaine lettuce and other salad vegetables come from California. It can be found throughout the year in most markets and during the spring and summer months in the northern regions, where it is cooler. There is a variety of romaine lettuces in existence, all of an intense green color, long leaves and a crunchy texture. When buying romaine lettuce, look for leaves that are tough and not yet golden brown. Avoid buying leaves that have viscous spots or brown and yellow patches. The leaves should also have a milky fluid that gives the Roman the typically fine and bitter taste of the herb. Look for romaine lettuces that are sold with their roots attached, which helps them stay fresh longer. You can store romaine lettuce for 5 to 7 days in your refrigerator and you can wrap the roots in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag where they will stay hydrated and fresh for longer. Whenever possible, buy organic romaine lettuce. Like all green leafy vegetables, romaine lettuce can easily absorb pesticides and chemicals that are sprayed on conventional non-organic crops. Green salads are often heavily sprayed as they grow close to the ground and are susceptible to insects and rodents.
Romaine Lettuce Recipes:
The taste of romaine lettuce is described as mild by some, but deep in flavor by others. Depending on the specific class you buy, you may notice a slight sweetness or bitterness as well. Unlike many other types of green leaves, romaine lettuce is durable and can withstand intense heat well. Apart from adding it to the sandwiches, this makes it a large leafy green to try to grill it on the barbecue or roast it in the oven, in order to give it a character and take out natural flavors. Romaine lettuce is also a great vegetable to taste juices, adding nutrients and a subtle flavor to your juice or smoothie without becoming too bitter. And because it retains its shape and folds easily without breaking, it is a great substitute for “wrap.”
Try to make one of these recipes to add romaine lettuce to your diet more frequently:
Cobb Salad Recipe:
Total time: 5-10 minutes
- Romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, diced
- 1 mango, peeled and chopped
- 1 avocado, seeded, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium apple, chopped
- ½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- 2 pieces of organic turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
Combine the ingredients and serve with your favorite dressing.
Taco Salad Recipe:
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 pound ground organic turkey
- ½ head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 C Spring Mix lettuce
- ½ C chopped coriander
- 1 cup raw cheese
- 1 C organic corn kernels, non-transgenic
- 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained
- 2 Roman tomatoes, chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
- ¼ C organic ketchup
- ¼ Honey C
- ¼ C red wine vinegar
- ¼ C onion, chopped
- ½ Spread the Word
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ C coconut oil
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Brown the ground turkey in a pan with salt and pepper until cooked. Drain excess fat
- Mix the last 8 ingredients in a food processor until smooth and refrigerate.
- Mix all salad ingredients with chilled meat and serve.
Recipe for wrapping avocado salad:
Total time: 5 minutes
- 2 avocados, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 6-8 romaine lettuce, chopped into large pieces
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl
- ake out about 1/2 cup of the gluten-free wrap and roll up.
Precautions When Using Romaine Lettuce:
- Unfortunately, romaine lettuce has been linked to outbreaks of foodborne illness, including E. coli and salmonella, in recent decades.
- According to reports, in the last 15 years there have been 34 outbreaks of foodborne diseases that affect green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach, lettuce is susceptible to bacteria because it retains moisture, grows near the soil and is usually consumed raw.
- Green leafy vegetables are also consumed in salad bars, which generally have the potential to have a lot of contact with people’s hands, which can result in them carrying bacteria and germs.
- It is very difficult for consumers to know in one way or another if vegetables such as romaine lettuce are contaminated, and there is only a small chance of this happening on a given day.
- Green leafy vegetables are vital to health and a good diet in general, so if you are concerned about eating foodborne illness, you may want to cook your vegetables instead of eating them raw, which may help to prevent bacteria from staying alive.
- You can also feel safer buying romaine lettuce from larger supermarket chains with more responsibility and required tests. Buying organic vegetables also helps ensure that they were harvested in a more sterile and chemical-free environment, which is another concern for consumers.