Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


You can make friends with salad


In the wake of the hate on almonds, kale, and countless other vegetables comes the defamation of salads. And dietitians everywhere wept into their leafy greens.

Now, while the author is proclaiming that “salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition” his real points wilt down to derision for two things: lettuce and fast food salads.

The problem with lettuce is that it contains very few nutrients and uses a lot of water to grow. The problem with fast food salads is that they’re often packed with calorific ingredients like candied nuts, deep-fried croutons, and creamy dressings while containing few vitamins and minerals as they’re predominantly lettuce-based. No argument here. Let’s look a little closer at the first claim though.

Yes, lettuce is not exactly an outstanding vegetable in the land of superfoods. That doesn’t mean that we should quit it entirely. It does contain some nutrients and precisely because it contains relatively few calories it can be a great choice for anyone who’s trying to manage their weight. Four cups of romaine lettuce contains only 40 calories! For one of the very reasons that the author eschews lettuce many people choose to eat it. The water in that lettuce also contributes to your hydration; it’s not like it’s just going to waste.

Even if lettuce isn’t the greatest. That’s no reason to dismiss salads entirely. Lettuce is not an essential salad ingredient. If you want some nutrient-packed salad greens go for spinach, kale, or shredded brussels sprouts. Salads can include loads of nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, everything from apples to zucchini. You can include grains, nuts, seeds, cheese, meat. The salad combinations are endless, delicious, and nutritious. Salads are so much more than just lettuce.

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Let us eat lettuce

It’s the start of salad season (especially in my apt which becomes a sauna pretty much the moment the sun comes out). Lettuce is a great food to help fill you up. Providing nutrients but very few calories. Use lettuce in salads, sandwiches, wraps, even pasta. My simplest salad dressing is just balsamic vinegar mixed with a little dijon mustard and fresh ground black pepper. To compare some of the popular lettuces check out the chart below:

Lettuce (250 ml) Calories (kcal) Calcium (mg) Potassium (mg) Magnesium (mg) Beta carotene  (µg) Fibre (g)
Iceburg 11 14 107 5 227 0.9
Romaine 10 20 146 8 3092 1.2
Mesclun 13 45 213 21 3599 1.1
Butterhead 8 20 138 8 1155 0.6