The scientific name of lettuce is Lactuca sativa. It was first cultivated by the Egyptians thousands of years ago. Lettuce can be found in all parts of the world.
There are numerous health benefits of lettuce include lower cholesterol levels, protection of neurons, regular sleep, anxiety control, lower inflammation, and a constant supply of antioxidants.
Lettuce possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help in controlling inflammation.
Protects Neuronal Cells
Lettuce is used as a neuroprotection to protect from neurodegenerative diseases.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Lettuce lowers high cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Lettuce acts a sleep inducer. It promotes sound sleep.
Lettuce contains antioxidants which protects from free radical damage and reduces the risk of many diseases.
Lettuce contains antimicrobial properties that is beneficial for health.
Lettuce contains neurological properties which is used to treat anxiety.
Lettuce reduces the risk of many cancers.
Lettuce can be eaten at any time of day. Lettuce go well with herbs, sauces and spices such as Dijon mustard, parsley, mint, chives, oregano, pepper, olive oil, balsamic/red wine vinegar, salad dressings (Ranch, French, Russian, Italian, Greek, etc.) salt, pepper. It also goes well with fruits and vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, corn, beets, onion, cabbage, olives, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, dried cranberries/raisins, apple, pear, orange, watermelon. Savoury and dairy products such as eggs, prosciutto, nuts, seeds, pulses (like chickpeas), chicken, turkey, beef, pork, bacon, tofu, fish, feta, Parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, marble, Stilton, Gorgonzola.
How to buy and store lettuce
Buy fresh lettuce that are dark green in color. When storing lettuce, it should be kept away from fruits that emit ethylene, such as apples and bananas. Ethylene is a gas that hastens the ripening process of certain fruits and will cause lettuce to decay much faster. Lettuce contains high water content so, it cannot be stored for long.
Ways to use lettuce
Lettuce is used raw in salads, sandwiches and rolls. Lettuce leaves may also be used as wraps. Older leaves can be used in soups.
Season in which lettuce is available
Lettuce is available All year.
How to make stir-fried lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 1⁄2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1⁄2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine or 1 teaspoon dry sherry
3⁄4 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon salad oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Wash and dry lettuce. Tear or cut into pieces a bit bigger than bite sized. Separate leaves and discard core.
In a small bowl mix soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Set aside.
Place 14 inch wok or 12 inch frying pan on medium-high heat. When hot, add the salad oil and garlic. Stir fry until the garlic begins to take a little color.
Add lettuce and stir fry until slightly limp but still somewhat crisp.
Stir in the soy sauce mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve at once.
How to make lettuce thoran (kerala style lettuce and coconut stir fry)
- Romaine Lettuce Hearts – 3 big clusters
- Diced Onions – 1 small
- Crushed/Finely Chopped Garlic – 3 or 4 cloves
- Slit Indian Green Chillies – 2
- Grated Coconut – 3/4 to 1 cup
- Coconut Oil – 1.5 tbsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- Curry Leaves – A small sprig
- Salt – to taste
- Wash the lettuce thoroughly. Trim the base of each cluster and separate the leaves. Chop the leaves and stem into small pieces.
- Heat 1.5 tbsp coconut oil in a non stick pan and splutter mustard seeds.
- Saute the onions, curry leaves, garlic and green chilies on medium heat until the onions turn translucent.
- Next add the chopped lettuce to the pan along with salt to taste. Saute for around five minutes. Do not cover the pan!!!
- The lettuce would have let out water. Add the coconut mixture to the pan along with 1/4 tsp turmeric.
- Increase heat to medium-high and saute for 3-4 more minutes so that the water evaporates.
- Once cooked, the stems should be tender. Serve with rice.
Lettuce can cause allergies. Other than that lettuce is very healthy.
Fun facts about lettuce
- Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual leaf vegetable of the daisy family, Asteraceae.
- It is without doubt the world’s most popular salad plant.
- Lettuce was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians who turned it from a weed whose seeds were used to produce oil, into a food plant grown for its succulent leaves and oil-rich seeds.
- According to Herodotus, lettuce was served on the tables of the Persian kings of the 6th century BC.
- Lettuce spread to the Greeks and Romans, the latter of whom gave it the name lactuca, from which the English lettuce is ultimately derived.
- Lettuce traveled with the Romans into Western Europe and east all the way to China, establishing itself at multiple points along its journey.
- Columbus evidently carried lettuce to the New World, for its culture was reported on Isabela Island (now called Crooked Island) in the Bahamas in 1494. Lettuce was doubtless among the first garden seeds sown in every European colony on this continent.
- Between the late 16th century and the early 18th century, many varieties were developed in Europe, particularly Holland.
- Plants generally have a height and spread of 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in). The leaves are colorful, mainly in the green and red color spectrums, with some variegated varieties.
- Four most widely grown varieties of lettuce are:
- Celtuce, or asparagus lettuce (variety augustana), with narrow leaves and a thick, succulent, edible stem
- Head or cabbage lettuce (variety capitata), with the leaves folded into a compact head
- Leaf or curled lettuce (variety crispa), with a rosette of leaves that are curled, finely cut, smooth-edged, or oak-leaved in shape
- Cos or romaine lettuce (variety longifolia), with smooth leaves that form a tall, oblong, loose head
- There are two classes of head lettuce:
- The butterhead types, such as Bibb lettuce, with soft heads of thick oily-textured leaves
- Crisphead types, such as iceberg lettuce, with brittle-textured leaves that form very hard heads under proper temperature conditions
- In some countries, lettuce is typically eaten cold and raw, in salads, hamburgers, tacos, and many other dishes. In some places, including China, lettuce is typically eaten cooked and use of the stem is as important as the use of the leaf.
- There are only 15 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of lettuce.
- Lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin K, folate and molybdenum. It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron and vitamin C. It is also a good source of vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium and pantothenic acid.
- The health benefits of lettuce include lower cholesterol levels, boosts heart health, promotes brain health, regular sleep, anxiety control, boosts immunity, skin care benefits, promotes vision health, lower inflammation, fights anemia, support weight loss and prevention of cancer.
- Today, China is the largest producer of lettuce in the world.
- Lettuce is produce year round in the United States. Although lettuce is produced in many states, California and Arizona dominate US production.
- Romaine lettuce is often used for Caesar salads, with a dressing that includes anchovies and eggs.
- According to historical documents, lettuce was already cultivated in Ancient Egypt as far back as 6,000 years ago. In fact, the lettuce is portrayed in several Egyptian hieroglyphs and artwork. From the Middle East, lettuce cultivation spread to Europe and other parts of the world. Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, introduced the lettuce to America during his second voyage to the New World in 1494.
- “Lettuce” is a modern derivative of the term, “lactuca,” which was what the ancient Greeks and Romans called the vegetable in the past.
- Almost 50% of the lettuce being consumed today is grown by the Chinese.
- In the United States, the potato is the only fresh vegetable that is more popular than the lettuce. According to statistics from the USDA, the per capita consumption of lettuce in America is 33 pounds per year.
- Lettuce is always eaten fresh. Because of its high water content (95%), it cannot be frozen or canned.
- The lettuce that the Greeks and Romans ate in ancient times had sleep-inducing properties. This property, however, has already been bred out of the current varieties of lettuce.
- If you want to maximize the health benefits from eating lettuce, choose leaves that are darker in color as these contain more nutrients.
- Lettuce is extremely low-calorie and perfect as a weight-loss food. A cup of raw lettuce has less than 10 calories.