We often think of salads as boring and not filling enough but that doesn’t have to be the case, gone are the old fashioned salads of our childhood of just iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber and tinned asparagus! There are a variety of salad leaves available with many different tastes and textures.
Lettuce leaves contain virtually no fat and are very high in nutrients, making them an ideal to consume on a daily basis. Generally speaking the darker the lettuce leaf the more nutrient dense it is, so leave the iceberg lettuce and embrace some of the other varieties available at your local shop. Iceberg does have its place as a great introduction to salad for kids as you gradually introduce the other varieties as their palates mature.
Increasing the amount of salads we put in our diet can have a huge beneficial impact on our health, energy and waist line. They are high in vitamins, antioxidants and fibre and are able to treat a number of health conditions. Lettuce aids our digestion and is beneficial for our liver health (which can only be a good thing as the silly season approaches).
Lettuce is high in Vitamin B9 (folate) which is important for all women but especially those who are planning to or are pregnant. Most lettuce contains a high amount of fibre to prevent and relieve constipation. Also high in the powerful antioxidants Vitamin C and betacarotene for disease prevention and a strong immune system.
If I haven’t convinced you to reach for the salad bowl yet, how about the fact the high water content and antioxidants will make your skin glow and the low fat make it the perfect nutrient dense food for any weight management plan.
Increasing our vegetable intake will reduce our saturated fat, this is the bad kind that increases cholesterol and therefore puts us at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease so including salads is a quick and easy way to control our cholesterol levels.
So now that I’ve sung the virtues of the humble lettuce, I loved to share with you my top 3 favourite lettuce/leaves to include in your next salad.
1. Baby spinach, not just for popeye its as tasty as it is high in iron, vitamins and chlorophyll.
2. Cos (also known as Romaine) this is often overlooked but really packs a punch nutritionally with high amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folic Acid and dietary fibre. A great alternative to iceberg lettuce.
3. Rocket, not technically a lettuce but a wonderful way to spice up a salad.