Does Iceberg Lettuce Deserve Its Bad Rap?


We’ll discuss extra about evaluating iceberg lettuce vitamin to its rival greens in a minute. However first, one other massive purpose for iceberg’s dangerous rap: the truth that it tends to get entangled with meals and dishes that are not all the time seen as assembly our collective commonplace of fine for you, notes Largeman-Roth. It is sometimes thrown up to the mark like nachos and burgers, or tossed with wealthy, creamy salad dressings, as an example. In fact, there’s nothing truly incorrect with consuming nachos or burgers, and all meals have their place in a diverse, balanced food regimen. However as a result of they often haven’t got the vitamin profile and glowing well being halo of, say, a fiber-rich quinoa bowl, these meals are usually seemed down upon within the vitamin world—and by extension, iceberg lettuce does too. (The way in which we define “healthy eating” is fairly fraught anyway, given the affect of diet culture and discounting of vital elements like joy and connection, food access, and culture.) Change the lettuce’s context by, say, sticking it in rooster and pepper fajitas or tucking it right into a hummus and veggie wrap—meals that extra folks see as being more healthy—and it begins to look an entire lot totally different.

What is the distinction between iceberg lettuce and common lettuce?

Nice query. By “common” lettuce, for example we’re speaking about issues like romaine, crimson or inexperienced leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, or arugula, and so forth. Nutritionally talking, all of those choices are fairly comparable when it comes to not being a serious supply of macronutrients. As with different salad greens, there aren’t many carbs in iceberg lettuce (simply two grams per shredded cup), in addition to a negligible quantity of protein (lower than one gram) and nearly no fats, in line with the USDA.

It’s within the micronutrient division that iceberg lettuce vitamin begins to diverge. “Generally, it would not pack a dietary punch like darker greens do,” Largeman-Roth explains. “The darkish leafy greens include extra vitamins, like iron, magnesium, folate and fiber.”

A fast take a look at the numbers confirms this. In line with the USDA, a cup of shredded iceberg lettuce comprises lower than one gram of fiber, and solely hint quantities of vital nutritional vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin C, vitamin Ok, or iron. It is also fairly low in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, that are current in greater concentrations in lots of different leafy greens and play an vital function in eye health.1

Darker leafy greens simply provide extra of, properly, all of these micronutrients. Take veritable dietary powerhouse kale, as an example. It boasts over 3 times as a lot fiber, nearly 10 instances as a lot vitamin A, 14 instances as a lot calcium, 16 instances as a lot vitamin Ok, and nearly 30 instances as a lot vitamin C, per USDA vitamin knowledge. The variations in micronutrient content material aren’t all the time fairly so dramatic, however they nonetheless are usually fairly vital throughout the board. Whenever you take a look at iceberg lettuce vs. romaine, for instance, romaine has about the identical quantity of fiber, however 5 instances as a lot vitamin Ok and 3 times as a lot vitamin C, per USDA knowledge. On the entire, just about some other inexperienced could have a higher focus of micronutrients than iceberg. 

What are the advantages of iceberg lettuce?

All of this would possibly make it sound like iceberg is dropping the battle of the leafy greens. But it surely nonetheless has some great things going for it, and each Feller and Largeman-Roth agree that it’s best to eat it should you get pleasure from it.

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