I have a question about lettuce – is there really much of a nutritional difference between the various types (iceberg, leaf, romaine)?
And, where, do things like “spring greens” and spinach fit in?
— Rob Portinga
There certainly is a difference between iceberg and romaine lettuce.
A cup of iceberg lettuce provides:
- 7% of the daily vitamin A requirement
- 3% of the daily vitamin C requirement
- 22% of the daily vitamin K requirement
- 5% of the daily folate requirement
- 1 gram of fiber
That same amount of romaine lettuce, meanwhile, contains:
- 120% of the daily vitamin A requirement
- 30% of the daily vitamin C requirement
- 100% of the daily vitamin K requirement
- 35% of the daily folate requirement
- 2 grams of fiber
Additionally, since romaine lettuce is darker than the iceberg variety, it contains a higher amount of phytonutrients.
Mesclun mixes are another great choice. Since they contain a mixture of different greens, you are getting a much wider variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients than you would by solely eating one variety of greens.
By the way, your typical mesclun mix is made up of four or five different types of salad leaves!
Spinach is slightly different in that it is part of the Brassica family of vegetables, meaning it has more in common with bok choy and broccoli than it does with lettuce.
While spinach is a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and many phytonutrients, its high oxalate content unfortunately means we are unable to absorb a large percentage of its iron and calcium content.