Mildly sedative, lettuce can
help promote sleep. It is also a
useful, low-calorie, high-fiber
food for dieters.

There are dozens of different types of lettuce available both in the stores and to buy as seed but, when making your choices, for health reasons it makes sense to pick varieties that are either mid- or deep green or with red tinges. These contain more carotenes and vitamin C than the paler lettuces. Romaine lettuce, for example, contains five times as much vitamin C and more beta-carotene than iceberg lettuce. These more colorful heads will contain good amounts of folate, potassium, and iron. Lettuce is high in fiber, very low in calories, and low on the glycemic index.

  • Nutritious low-calorie food for dieters.

  • High in antioxidant vitamin C and carotenes for disease prevention.

  • Mildly sedative.

  • High in folate for heart and arterial health.

Practical tips:

Using a clean dish towel or a salad spinner, wash nonorganic lettuces well before use, because sometimes they contain high levels of pesticide residues and bacteria. If a whole lettuce is too much for one meal, pick leaves from the outside rather than cutting it in half, as the cut side will turn brown. Eating lettuce with oil increases absorption of carotenes, but add dressing just before serving so that the leaves do not deteriorate.

In most countries, lettuce is usually eaten raw, but in France it is cooked with peas. In China it is often used in stir-fries and other cooked dishes.

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