Lettuce Not Forget to Eat Our Veggies

By Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN

When you think of salad, you generally think it’s automatically healthy right? Well it’s not that simple. By the time you add all the toppings and dressings, the calories can sometimes outweigh that cheeseburger on the menu. We are also in full swing of garden time and some of you may be growing your own lettuce, which is great! I wanted to share some tips in picking the best lettuce to receive the most nutritional benefits as well as properly storing it.

  1. Choose red, red-brown, purple or dark green loose leaf varieties. Deeply-colored and loose leaf are much more nutritious than pale-colored varieties that form a tight head. Whole heads of lettuce are fresher than bagged greens.
  2. Spend 10 minutes preparing your lettuce to preserve its flavor and nutrients. Separate a head of lettuce into individual leaves or open a bag of loose greens and soak them in very cold water for 10 minutes. Dry in salad spinner or with a towel. If you tear your lettuce into bite size pieces, you will increase its antioxidant content. But if you do, be sure to eat in a day or two. Place the greens in a resealable plastic bag that you have pricked with 10–20 tiny holes, squeeze out air and store in crisper drawer.
  3. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best oils to use in a salad dressing. Fat-free dressings limit your absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Olive oil makes the nutrients in the salad more bioavailable. 

Source:  Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson


Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN
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