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Iceberg, Dead Ahead!

Written by CitiHealth, Inc.

It's easily the most commonly consumed salad staple, and is perhaps the only healthy hope for any sandwich wrapped up in a fast-food frenzy. But the question is....How nutritious is iceberg lettuce?

Sadly, in the leafy-lettuce family, iceberg, the pale green variety (alias-head lettuce) is the least nutritious. It offers trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Still, if we're accentuating the positive, iceberg lives up to the lettuce family reputation for being low in calories (12 per 3 ounces)—and its high water content may help fill you up, so if you eat a salad before a meal, you might eat fewer calories overall. And, iceberg is the cheapest lettuce variety, and remains fresher longer than many other leafy siblings.

Back to the question — how healthy is iceberg lettuce — it's sadly lacking when compared to it's more nutritional counterparts. If your looking for more nutritional and better tasting lettuce options, darker-colored salad greens are a stonger choice. Romaine, spinach, butterhead, and arugula, for example—along with the less familiar mizuna, mache (lamb's lettuce), kale, and tat soi—offer more vitamin C and K, folate, magnesium, and other nutrients and about twice as much fiber. And they're richer in beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and other potentially beneficial compounds.

In summary, lettuce of any kind is better than many choices, but again, if you're looking for nutritional punch, the darker the color, the better.

Article Reviewed: July 5, 2012
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