The Ancient Romans were fully aware of the many health benefits of lettuce; they ate it at night as a sleep remedy after overindulging at supper. At present, the stressed citizens of modern cities can reap lettuce benefits in the same way, but in place of a big dinner, and not after.
Lettuce as a main dish for supper is perfect for those needing its sedative effect or those seeking weight loss. In this way, its mild sedative effect and ability to satisfy the appetite are maximized. Naturally, those under the stress of a weight-loss program need to retire early, so they are asleep when the sense of satiety has passed in two or three hours.
Lettuce Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Lactuca sativa L.
- Scientific Synonym – Lactuca virosa L.
- Other Names – Celtuce, Cos, Garden lettuce, [Green] romaine lettuce.
- French – Laitue
- Spanish – Lechuga.
- German – Kopfsalat.
- Description – Leaves of the lettuce plant of the botanical family Compositae. There are varieties with straight leaves and others with curly ones; their color varies from green to purple red.
- Environment – Originally from Asia Minor, its cultivation extended in antiquity throughout the Roman Empire. It is grown in the open air in temperate areas worldwide and in greenhouses.
Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce is one of the most decadent foods in water (94.9 percent). However, the comparatively prominent level of proteins (1.62 percent) that it provides is impressive. This is only less than the potato (2.07 percent). These are inadequate proteins since the essential amino acid methionine is in insufficient amounts. However, by combining lettuce with a plate of legumes (preferably at the same meal), a supplementation occurs between the proteins of both foods. The body obtains all the amino acids needed in the proper proportion.
Lettuce is a lousy source of carbohydrates (0.67 percent) and fat (0.2 percent), which explains its low energetic contribution. The excellent health benefits of lettuce are based on the following components:
- Provitamin A – one hundred grams of lettuce provides 260 ug RE (micrograms of retinol equivalent), representing a quarter of this provitamin’s daily requirement. The white leaves in the center hold much less provitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
- B group vitamins – Lettuce is exceptionally rich in vitamins B1 and B2 and folates.
- Vitamin C – The concentration of this vitamin in lettuce is 24 mg/100 grams, which is a little less than half that of an orange or lemon.
- Minerals – Lettuce is noted for its potassium and iron content. It has significant amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, and the trace elements zinc, copper, and manganese. These minerals form alkalizing salts, making lettuce a good antacid in the stomach and the blood.
- Vegetable fiber – Contributes to a mild laxative effect.
- Sedative and sleep-inducing substances – The same as found in the latex of wild lettuce, but much lower proportion. These elements are chemically like opium but lack toxicity and addictive properties.
Functional conditions of the nervous system, like anxiety, psychological tension, stress, or nervousness. Eating lettuce regularly produces a mild and imperceptible sedative effect while providing all-important B vitamins for the nervous system’s stability.
Insomnia – A substantial supper consisting of only lettuce is recommended for those who cannot sleep.
Digestive issues – When consumed before meals, lettuce helps facilitate digestion and tones the stomach.
Constipation – Lettuce aids intestinal function thanks to its fantastic, easy-to-digest fiber content.
Obesity – Lettuce provides a profound sense of being full after eating it but provides few calories. At the same time, it relieves anxiety and nervousness regarding the foods that usually accompany obesity. A substantial plate of lettuce significantly reduces the appetite and provides adequate minerals and vitamins.
Diabetes – Lettuce is extremely low in carbohydrates; therefore, diabetics can enjoy it, but do not overindulge. Moderation is the key to everything.
How to use Lettuce
- Raw – This is the proper way to enjoy its pleasant taste and freshness. You can dress it with a bit of oil (olive oil preferably) and a few drops of lemon juice. Remember, the green leaves are far more nutritious than the white leaves on the inside.
- Cooked – You can cook the most rigid leaves like any other green leafy vegetables.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods, and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 45, 46. Print. [health benefits of lettuce]