Thursday, February 12, 2015

by Ashley Giddens MS, RD/LD

Q: Is there any truth to iceberg lettuce being devoid of any nutritional value?

 A: While it is true that the more deeply hued spinach, kale and mustard greens contain significantly more vitamins and minerals compared to iceberg lettuce, it is still a great option to include in the diet and it does in fact have nutritional value.

This pale-colored lettuce contributes to hydration as it is over 95 percent water. It keeps longer than softer leaf lettuces, about two weeks in the refrigerator, and is made up of, even if it is to a lesser extent, fiber, vitamins C and K, iron, potassium, calcium, folate, and beta-carotene just to name a few. Naturally low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol, and low sodium, iceberg lettuce is not only a crisp, crunchy and colorful addition to salads, wraps, and sandwiches, it can serve as the wrap itself in substitution for bread, tortillas or wonton wrappers for those who require a gluten or wheat-free diet or those desiring a lower carbohydrate or calorie alternative. When used as a wrap or bowl, lettuce adds a pop of color and is a nice change from the ordinary.

Here are some common meal ideas for iceberg lettuce:

  • Use as a bowl for taco salad
  • Asian lettuce or spring roll wraps
  • Burger or sandwich wrap
  • Lettuce soup, pureed or torn into bite-size pieces
  • Wedge salad, layer salad, or any other salad with your choice of additions

While iceberg lettuce may not necessarily be the superstar of greens, it definitely plays a supporting role in your nutrition. So, invite it back into the diet as well as a wide variety of other vegetables of all colors and nutrients.

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.