Red leaf lettuce, botanically known as the Lactuca Sativa, is a leafy vegetable part of the daisy family. This is a general name given for a plethora of varieties of leaves which are loose and semi-frilled lettuces and are members of the Asteraceae family.
Red leaf lettuces can be up to 30 centimetres tall. Also, they are one of the most commonly planted lettuces on the planet. They have a vibrant colour due to a pigment known as Anthocyanins. Red leaf lettuce is a crucial addition to various foods as well. They are also highly adaptable as they have a cut-and-come back again nature, i.e., the lettuce will develop new leaves even when cut.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) regulations indicate that red leaf lettuce qualifies typically as a sans calorie food. It is also sans fat and comprises fundamentally of water. This article explains the benefits of Red leaf lettuce that you can reap by including it in your diet.
Nutritional Value of Red Leaf Lettuce
Red leaf lettuce is rich in essential nutrients for your body. USDA data shows the amount of nutrients 100 grams of shredded red leaf lettuce would provide:
- Calories: 13 kCal
- Protein: 1.33 gm
- Fat: 0.2 gm
- Fibre: 0.9 gm
- Calcium: 33 mg
- Potassium: 187 mg
- Iron: 1.2 mg
- Magnesium: 12 mg
- Vitamin A: 375 mcg
- Vitamin K: 140 mcg
- Folate: 36 mcg
These nutrients are essential for the body. Yet, astonishingly, less than 100 grams of red leaf lettuce can fulfil the daily human body requirement of vitamin A and K.
Health benefits of Red Leaf Lettuce
As mentioned above, red leaf lettuce is an incredible source of various nutrients beneficial for the body. Consequently, it has multiple health benefits.
Keeps the Body Hydrated
Keeping the body hydrated is essential for various reasons. It helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints, prevents infections, and improves organ functioning. Furthermore, a hydrated body helps deliver nutrients to different parts of the human body, improves digestion, enhances brain functioning, prevents kidney stones and keeps the heart healthy. Lettuce is rich in water content and helps play a vital role in keeping the body hydrated.
Keeps Eyes Healthy
Red leaf lettuce is rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for protecting the eyes and maintaining eye health. When the light enters your eyes, it gets converted into electrical signals, then sent to the brain. After this process, the brain makes sense of the image. Vitamin A plays an essential role in converting light to electrical signals. As per research, Vitamin A is very helpful in preventing night blindness. As per another study, a Sufficient intake of Vitamin A can help prevent a rapid decline of eyesight during old age.
Promotes Heart Health
Red leaf lettuce is rich in magnesium and potassium. Therefore, red leaf lettuce is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. As per research, potassium and magnesium help keep a healthy heartbeat. A healthy heartbeat helps in easy contraction and relaxation of the heart’s muscles. The same has been backed by other research as well. However, certain heart conditions arise due to insufficient intake of Potassium and magnesium. Various studies include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and even heart failure in extreme cases.
Helps prevents Cancer
Red leaf lettuce can also help in preventing cancer. Antioxidants are essential to protect the body from cancer-related free radicals. As per a study, an excessive amount of free radicals are harmful to your body and lead to various diseases. Red leaf lettuce is a rich source of beta carotene, an antioxidant. In addition, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant in reasonable amounts in red leaf lettuce. As per a controlled study, Vitamin C is helpful in the prevention of invasive cervical cancer in women.
It helps in Lowering Blood Pressure.
High Blood Pressure is a widespread medical condition. Eating sufficient quantities of red leaf lettuce is an excellent way to counter this problem. As per a recent study, Potassium-rich diets can help control blood pressure and keep it at manageable levels. As per research, Potassium helps reduce the effect of Sodium in the blood and helps dilate the blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. Another study has backed the claim that eating an adequate amount of red leaf lettuce can help control blood pressure levels.
Helpful in Weight Loss
Red leaf lettuce can benefit your weight loss journey for various reasons. For starters, red leaf lettuce is low in calories. A low-calorie food reduces calorie intake and, in turn, results in weight reduction. At the same time, the fibre content in red leaf lettuce is high. As per a study, fibre helps the body feel full, which reduces calorie intake. Also, lettuce is high in water content. Research has shown that increased water content in food can be beneficial in losing weight.
Enhances Bone Health
Red leaf lettuce can help in enhancing your bone health. A study found that people who have a Vitamin A rich diet have stronger bones than people who don’t. In addition, the study showed that individuals with higher vitamin A nutrients had a 6% lesser chance of fractures. However, nutrients (most importantly vitamin D) other than vitamin A also play a crucial role in maintaining overall bone health.
Red leaf lettuce also has sizeable quantities of vitamin B6. As per a study, vitamin B6 promotes haemoglobin production, which helps treat anaemia. Vitamin B6 can improve anaemia even if your body is unresponsive to iron. A study conducted on 56 pregnant women (who were unresponsive to iron) showed that as little as 75 mg of vitamin B6 significantly reduced symptoms of anaemia.
Promotes Reproductive Health
A few animal studies have shown that Vitamin A (present in large quantities in lettuce) is essential for maintaining reproductive health. A rat study showed that the deficiency of Vitamin A caused infertility in male rats. As per another study, females with insufficient Vitamin A intake showed poor quality in eggs produced. However, excessive red leaf lettuce can be a problem in pregnancy. As per a study, extreme Vitamin A can cause genetic disabilities in newborn babies.
Though red leaf lettuce is safe for most people, there is a precaution worth taking. Before eating, make sure that you wash the lettuce thoroughly multiple times. Washing is necessary because lettuce attracts pests. As a result, red leaf lettuce is treated with high amounts of pesticides to protect it on the farm. If not washed properly, these pesticides can be very harmful to your body and cause nausea, cramps, dizziness and anxiety.
The Bottom Line
Red leaf lettuce is rich in various nutrients that are very useful for the body. It keeps your body hydrated, keeps your eyes healthy, promotes heart health, helps prevent cancer, helps lower blood pressure, enhances bone health, eases Anaemia, and supports reproductive health. It comes with beneficial nutrients like vitamin A and Vitamin K in enough quantity to fulfil the daily body requirements.
Despite being highly nutritious, it has a low-calorie count. Fibre assists in feeling full, and at the same time, the low-calorie diet is helpful for weight loss. They are safe to eat for most people. However, one must wash them thoroughly before consumption because red leaf lettuces are treated heavily with pesticides at the farm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which is a healthier green leaf or red leaf lettuce?
A. Both red leaf lettuce and green leaf lettuce are highly nutritious and hence highly beneficial for the body. However, when we compare both, green leaf lettuce is healthier than red leaf lettuce. The reason is that green leaf lettuce has a higher content of vitamins like A, C and K. Also, the quantity of micronutrients in green leaf lettuce is much higher than in red leaf lettuce.
Q. What does red leaf lettuce taste like?
A. Red Leaf lettuce features a bitter-sweet smell. The stalk is scratched. This bitter taste often develops in maturing leaves versus young leaves. The leaves will also have a natural, mildly sweet, semi-bitter flavour with subtle hazelnut notes. The irritation usually occurs in developing leaves versus young leaves.
Q. Can lettuce be eaten raw?
A. Leafy greens are occasionally contaminated with harmful germs like other vegetables and fruit. E Coli is the most common bacteria that is present in lettuces. Washing leafy greens may not remove all germs. That is because germs can adhere to the outer lining of leaves and acquire inside them even. You may get unwell if you eat contaminated leafy greens without cooking. Another thing to be kept in mind is to thoroughly wash the lettuce because lettuce is sprayed with high amounts of pesticides to protect it on the farm. If not cleaned properly, these pesticides can be very harmful to your body.
Q. Why is my red lettuce turning green?
A. One of the reasons for red lettuce turning green may be the weather in your area. High temperature and sun make some red lettuces lose colour. However, the red colouration is typical in extreme cold weather, so they will probably get redder whenever fall comes.
Q. What time does it require to grow red leaf lettuce?
A. They usually reach maturity between 45-and 55 days after germination, but they can grow larger leaves through the growth cycle. Like other lettuces, they can be responsive to excessive light heat, resulting in bolting or wilting leaves.
Q. Is lettuce in the sunflower family?
A. Lettuce and sunflowers are both right sections of the Asteraceae family, a very diverse and most prominent group of flowering plants. Many family members are grown as food crops, including lettuce and Jerusalem artichokes. Others are considered ornamental, including asters, daisies, and marigolds. This family also includes medicinal flowering such as chamomile and plants used to make oils utilised in cooking, for example, sunflower and safflower plants.
Q. Which lettuce is least demanding to process?
A. Spread lettuce might be more straightforward for specific individuals to consume because it has a low fibre; individuals respond distinctively to various leafy foods. For some who experience the negative results of IBS, spastic colon, or other GI issues, it is best to consult a nutritionist and get advice.
Q. Can I eat lettuce every day?
A. It is very beneficial for your body to eat lettuce every day. Lettuce is the source of various nutrients that the body requires. Examples include protein, fat, fibre, vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, vitamin C, Potassium, vitamin B6, thiamine and riboflavin. In addition to providing these nutrients, lettuce keeps the body hydrated, which is crucial, especially in summers.
Q. Which lettuce has the most fibre?
A. Romaine lettuce has lots of fibre and is low in calories generally, and is also a reliable source of essential vitamins and minerals. Romaine lettuce contains 2 grams of fibre per serving. Iceberg lettuce has nearly 1.7 grams of fibre per serving. Green leaf lettuce, the most commonly grown lettuce, contains 0.9 grams of fibre per serving.
Q. Does washing lettuce remove E. coli?
A. Although washing lettuce can reduce some contamination, it generally does not kill bacteria. Which means it won’t eliminate the risk. Once E. coli bacteria attack the lettuce, they fill cracks which can be tiny crevices all over a leaf. A small number of E. Coli bacteria is enough to get people sick. Hence, it is necessary to wash the lettuce thoroughly if you want to get rid of E. coli.