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Improve Your Health With Lettuce

Improve Your Health With Lettuce

Lettuce is an annual plant, grown as a leaf vegetable and sometimes for its stem and seeds. It comes in all sorts of varieties and each one has different amounts of nutritional value, benefiting our overall health and wellbeing. The darker green the lettuce leaves, the higher the fiber, flavour and nutritional value.

Vitamins in lettuce are plentiful. Fresh leaves are an excellent source of vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamine and folate. These compounds have antioxidant properties:

  • Vitamin B6 helps the body to covert food into fuel, so that it can produce energy
  • Vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, and is also essential for vision
  • Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant; regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and harmful free radicals
  • Vitamin K has a potential role in bone metabolism where it is thought to increase bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone cells
  • Thiamine is essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system
  • Folates require for DNA synthesis and therefore, vital in prevention of the neural tube defects in-utero foetus during pregnancy

It also contains good amounts of minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, phosphorus, copper and iron, which are essential for body metabolism:

  • Calcium is vital for healthy teeth and bones
  • Magnesium is needed to regulate more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body
  • Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure
  • Phosphorus is primarily needed for growth and repair of body cells and tissues
  • Copper and iron are essential for red blood cell formation

Lettuce is low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol. Regular inclusion of lettuce in salads is known to prevent osteoporosis, iron deficiency anaemia and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease and cancers.

Regardless of the type, all lettuces should feature crispy, fresh leaves that are free of dark or slimy spots or discolouration. They should have compact heads with no brown stems. Each variety of lettuce features a unique keeping quality; hence, different methods should be applied while storing. Loose leaf lettuces should be washed and any excess water removed before storing in the refrigerator. Heads of lettuce need not be washed before storing. Pack them in a plastic bag or a container and store in the refrigerator. If possible, do not cute or slice lettuce leaves in advance. Cut lettuce leaves release an ascorbic acid oxidase, which destroys vitamin C and causes cut edges to discolour.

Remove any outer discoloured leaves. Then trim off their bitterly tips. Chop the remaining leaf to a desired size and discard the bottom stem/root portion. Wash leaves under some clean running water and pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove the excess water. It is quick, easy and definitely worth adding lettuce to your some of your daily meals!

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