Does Iceberg Lettuce Have Any Nutritional Value?
Iceberg lettuce is the statement necklace of vegetables.
The crisp lettuce we put on everything from hamburgers to tacos is a staple in many refrigerators, but does it actually add anything to our diet?
The answer is yes…and no.
Iceberg lettuce provides a satisfying crunchiness to salads and sandwiches, but it shouldn’t be the only green in your diet — much like your statement necklace isn’t the only thing in your wardrobe — because, though it has a place in a balanced diet, it isn’t one of the most nutrient-dense salad greens.
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The Nutritional Value of Lettuce
The most common argument against iceberg lettuce is that it’s comprised mostly of water. That’s true — and also true of other types of green leaves, including spinach.
Consuming water-rich greens can help you get your necessary fluids during the day, in addition to providing a small amount of other nutrients.
“Poor iceberg lettuce has been villainized in the recent past, passed by for having no nutritional value,” says Ann Marion Willis, an R.D. based in Nova Scotia, Canada. “While it might never be considered the next superfood, it still provides a variety of nutrients, albeit in small amounts.”
Per one cup of chopped greens, iceberg lettuce contributes:
• .684g of fiber
• .513g of protein
• 1.69g of carbs
• .519g of glucose
• .57g of fructose
Iceberg lettuce does also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and vitamin C.
But what’s the better choice when it comes to leafy veggies?
“To get more bang for your buck, try darker-colored lettuces and greens,” says Willis. “Spinach and kale offer more fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin K, beta-carotene, lutein, and folate than iceberg lettuce.”
But that doesn’t mean you should only eat spinach and kale.
“Each leafy green has a slightly different balance of nutrients, so your best bet is to consume a variety, both in raw and cooked dishes,” advises Willis.
“If you’re adventurous, try experimenting with new-to-you options including arugula, Swiss chard, endive, radicchio, or collard greens.”
Recipes to Make Using Iceberg Lettuce
• Experiment with your salads — here’s a rundown on how to build a great one.
• And sure, this recipe for a steak salad with a lemon tarragon vinaigrette calls for spinach, but you could easily sub in iceberg instead. Also, nobody says you can’t mix different kinds of greens together!
• Two words: lettuce wraps. (Again, just sub in the iceberg for the Bibb.)
• Raw greens can be blended into your smoothies and juices for an easy nutrient boost.
The Bottom Line
Go ahead and eat that iceberg lettuce with dinner — just don’t make it the only green in your rotation.
“Overall, include leafy greens at least one to two times per day,” says Willis, “and choose a variety of options to ensure you’re meeting your nutrient needs.”