Romaine lettuce has more nutrients and a heartier texture compared to iceberg lettuce. That makes it a good option when you want to add more flavor than standard lettuce. Based on written records, the ancient Egyptians first farmed lettuce in 2680 BC. Today we use the crunchy veggie for dishes ranging from burgers to wraps and from salads to stir-fry. But how healthy it? Let’s take a closer look at romaine lettuce nutrition information.
If you’re looking for a good diet food then Romaine lettuce is one of the best options. In one serving you get less than 10 calories, 0.5g of carbs, and 0.1g of fat. These are all features that can help you lose weight and burn fat. You still get several vitamins and minerals that add nutritional value to the food. While it still has a high water content it’s higher-nutrient than iceberg lettuce, which is 94% water. In many cases, you can swap out iceberg lettuce and swap in Romaine lettuce for more taste, texture, and nutrients.
What Exactly Is Romaine Lettuce?
This is one of the most popular varieties of lettuce and is also known as “cos” lettuce. The leafy green has dark green leaves. They grow straight up then curve inwards from stems that are lighter-colored. The leaves are very fragile versus other lettuce varieties. This helps to explain why they often get damaged during shipping. Due to this feature, it’s less popular among farmers versus other varieties. However, in terms of culinary use, many people prefer Romaine over iceberg due to the heartier texture and higher nutritional value.
Romaine lettuce is the most nutritious variety and most popular variety in Caesar salads. There are similar varieties that include sweet and mild/red variety. These are similar to the more common Romaine and provide more options if you want other options besides standard Romaine.
Romaine’s flavor is from the dark-green color. This provides benefits over other varieties like “crisphead” and “butterhead” lettuce. Meanwhile, the inner leaves are lighter than the outside leaves. This also provides less flavor.
Besides these differences in flavor, you also get lots of crunch from the lettuce. Meanwhile, the dark-green leaves are a little softer than the light stems. Romaine is also high in certain nutrients. They include Vitamins A/C/K, folic acid, and others.
These nutrients can provide various benefits. For example, lettuce is good for heart health, digestion, etc. It’s also considered to be an anti-cancer food. This is important since it’s become one of the most common serious diseases in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports cancer is the world’s 2nd leading cause of death after heart disease.
When you purchase Romaine lettuce it’s important to avoid lettuce heads that have wilted leaves and “rust” spots. You should also watch out for browning/decay. Another issue to consider is pre-packaged lettuce usually lasts a shorter time versus whole heads.
Romaine Lettuce: Nutrition Facts
Here’s what you get from 1 cup of uncooked Romaine lettuce:
There are 8 calories in one cup of lettuce. This is rock-bottom so it’s an outstanding choice if you’re counting calories. That’s less than 0.5% of your daily total on a 2,000-calorie diet. So it’s a good choice for just about any diet and especially weight loss programs. Make sure to count calories of any food you add lettuce to like salad ingredients since they’ll add to your daily totals.
The total carbs for Romaine lettuce are 1.5g. This is quite low but the net carbs are even lower at 0.5g. That’s the figure you get after subtracting fiber from the total carbs. This even gives the lettuce a thumbs up for Stage 1 of Atkins and South Beach, which only allow 20g of carbs/day.
Lettuce contains 0.6g of protein. You could still add a protein like chicken, fish/shellfish, beans, peas, etc. One of the benefits of lettuce is it’s low-calorie/carb you get lots of nutrients without wrecking your diet.
One serving of Romaine lettuce has a total of 0.1g of fat. If you are on a low-fat diet, then this figure is about as good as it gets. How about a low-carb, high-fat diet? In that case, you should add healthy fats through other foods like fatty fish, nuts/seeds, avocado, and olive oil. These are some of the best options.
You get the sky-high amount of water in Romaine lettuce. There are less than iceberg and other varieties, but Romaine also provides more nutrients. So you get the best of both worlds with Romaine.
Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin A/C/K
These are all important nutrients that the human body needs daily.
Non-salad Recipe Ideas for Lettuce
In recent years, low-carb diets have been the in-thing. If you want to reduce your carbs by swapping out wheat wraps/tortillas then consider lettuce wraps. You can use them in place of bread for many recipes. Your options include tacos, fajitas, and even burgers.
It’s safe to say this option isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a fan of low-carb dishes you can still add lettuce to many of them to add more crunch and nutrients. For example, you can go with Romaine instead of lettuce for a more nutritious and delicious option.
Romaine lettuce can hold up quite well when seared or stir-fried. The edges soften, but the water content keeps the leafy greens soft/juicy. It actually makes a good alternative for cold-weather days when you don’t want to go with a standard vegetable salad.
Another plus of this option is you can sauté the lettuce with lots of ingredients. They include protein, veggies, seeds, and so on. That will add more nutrients and texture to your dishes.
You’ve probably heard of green juice that includes leafy greens like spinach and kale. However, is lettuce juice a thing? It is quite easy to add it to juices/smoothies. It is a good option for healthy beverages. You can blend them with fruits, veggies, and seeds to make super-healthy beverages. For extra nutrients, add other leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard.
Cracker Substitute for Soup
We usually think of cabbage as a better option vs. lettuce for soups. One possible issue would be how well the lettuce stands up to the long cooking. Yes, the leafy green will wilt/soften. However, you might be surprised how much crunch the veggie keeps when cooked in different soups after learning romaine lettuce nutrition.