Does Iceberg Lettuce Have Any Health Benefits? Everything You Need to Know About Iceberg Lettuce

Considered a staple for many classic hamburgers and sandwiches, iceberg lettuce is not only a common ingredient but also a controversial one. Pale in comparison to broccoli & spinach in terms of nutritional value, iceberg lettuce is a controversial ingredient, mainly due to several nutrients it contains that may help boost bone health, enhance vision, and ramp up weight loss.

So should you cast this vegetable out of your diet plans? I would advise otherwise and do continue reading to find out more about this popular leafy green.

Table of Content

What Is Iceberg Lettuce?

Lettuce, in general, is an annual plant of the daisy family with pale green color and a round head that closely resembles other lettuce varieties like cabbage. It is often grown as a leaf vegetable, but sometimes for its stem and seeds. Lettuce is often used for garden salads, but can also sometimes be seen in Asian soups and hamburgers!

Native to Europe and North America, consumption of lettuce has now spread throughout the world due to its crunchy texture and versatility and also its less-talked-about nutritional profile, which we are going to discuss now!

How to Pick a Good Iceberg Lettuce

You might think that by getting iceberg lettuce from the supermarket or market, you’d be guaranteed good variety! This is unfortunately far from the truth! This is instead what you have to look out for when you’re at your local market choosing good iceberg lettuces!

How Do Iceberg Lettuce Taste in Recipes?

Unlike other types of salad greens, iceberg lettuce does not have a great deal of flavor. Instead, it provides crispy and sturdy textures to recipes that are accompanied by other, more flavorful ingredients, such as salad dressings and seasoned meats. Hence, there should be an emphasis placed on how to select your next best iceberg lettuce!

Those who wish to incorporate more complex flavors into salads and hamburgers, however, may decide to use other types of lettuce than iceberg lettuce like romaine lettuce for example.

Favorite Lettuce Recipes

Since iceberg lettuce has no outstanding flavors – bland with the crunchy finish – they are therefore incorporated into recipes as sides to complement the complex flavors that garden salads or hamburgers have. As such, I have come up with a few recipes that you might enjoy even with iceberg lettuce on the side!

Classic Caesar Salad Recipe
  • Classic Caesar Salad
  • Club Salad
  • Chili Beef Lettuce Wrap

The 4 health Benefits of Iceberg Lettuce

Although there are a low amount of calories in iceberg lettuce, each serving contains a good chunk of fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin A. The iceberg lettuce nutrition facts also boast a small amount of vitamin B6, iron, and calcium. Iceberg lettuce also boasts these 4 health benefits which we are going to cover shortly!

  • Promotes Weight Loss
  • Keeps Bones Strong
  • Low Carb Substitute
  • Boasts Eye Health
1. Promotes Weight Loss
Measuring Tape Measures Waistline For Weight Loss

Because each serving contains a low amount of calories, adding this ingredient to a healthy diet would not jeopardize your weight loss effort. According to studies, increased vegetable and fruits intake were associated with improved weight loss and fat loss. This is mainly attributed to the presence of high fiber and water content found in these leafy greens, which add volume to the food you consume, thus making you feel full longer.

2. Keeps Bones Strong
Strong Athleticism With Good Bone Health

One of the most prominent vitamins that iceberg lettuce has is its vitamin K content, which may be well known for its ability to maintain healthy blood clotting. But did you know Vitamin K also plays a key role in bone health?

In fact, Vitamin K is closely involved with bone metabolism and helps increase levels of protein needed to maintain calcium stores in the bones. According to a study in 2003, lower intakes of Vitamin K were associated with decreased bone mineral density in women.

3. Low Carb Substitute

If you’re following a diet that involves only low carbs and high fats, then iceberg lettuce crisp texture would definitely be appealing to you, given that rice and potatoes are sources that are off the table. One cup of shredded iceberg lettuce only amounts to 10 calories, which can hardly fill up your daily calories requirement. Fortunately, iceberg lettuce also comes with a decent amount of dietary fiber which can further boost your weight loss efforts.

4. Boosts Eye Health
Woman With Clear Eye Indicating Strong Eye Health

Iceberg lettuce is a great source of Vitamin A – a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in supporting your eye health, that prevents further deterioration of your vision. It is known that Vitamin A may even help protect against some eye disorders such as macular degeneration and cataract.

Macular degeneration is a common condition that is characterized by the deterioration of the macular, which is a central portion of the retina.

How to Handle Iceberg Lettuce?

Cleaning and cutting iceberg lettuce should not be a complicated task but if you are still not confident with handling iceberg lettuces, don’t worry as I’ve come up with a guide that would walk you through with a few simple steps!

Washing Core of Iceberg Lettuce
  1. Inspect the iceberg lettuce for bad leaves on the outside. If there are, start removing them. Then turn the iceberg lettuce over and make a circular cut around the core or root. Take out the core and widen the cut by breaking the iceberg lettuce from the center and out.
  2. Run the lettuce under running water and fill water inside the lettuce through hole where the core was. When the lettuce is filled with water, shake it a little and flip it over to allow water to run out. Lastly, let the iceberg drip off a bit before you continue with cutting it on a chopping board.
  3. To cut, simply cut the iceberg lettuce head in half. Hold the head of the iceberg lettuce with your fingers facing forward so that the outer side of your thumb faces your knife. Be careful as you begin cutting across the iceberg lettuce head.
  4. Place the cut halves flat-side down and continue cutting each in half. This would leave you with 4 large wedges of iceberg lettuces. If this type of cut isn’t fine enough, you could continue slicing by holding the wedges flat-side down then slicing the wedges vertically for long thin strips, sizes depending on yourself!

Bonus tip: If you have a salad spinner, use it to further dry out the iceberg lettuce! Any amount of water left in the lettuce after the drying process is going to flatten the taste of your dressing no matter how much of the sauce or condiments were put into the making of the dressing!

How to Store Iceberg Lettuce?

Lettuce needs moisture and airflow to stay crisp. Too much water would cause it to wilt. Depending on how long you’d want to store your lettuces, you can choose to store it as a full head of lettuce or as individual lettuce leaves.

Storing Individual Iceberg Lettuce In Plastic Bag

For the former, wrap the full head of lettuce in damp paper and put the lettuce inside a plastic bag. Store in the fridge (crisper drawer). Do not airtight the plastic bag for better airflow purposes.

For the latter, spin-dries the individual lettuce leaves after washing and place them in a container into the fridge. You can also use a plastic bag if you keep it in a corner open for airflow, or you could also store them in a wet paper towel in your crisper drawer. Make sure to add a few more paper towels to absorb excess moisture and replace them every few days if they get too damp.

Your lettuce leaves may still look wilt a bit even if you did follow every step carefully. That is normal! To crisp them up, soak them in ice water for a few minutes then spin dry as you normally would.

Avoid keeping lettuces close to ethylene fruits ( like pears, avocados, apples, and tomatoes) because they emit gases as they ripen, which could cause your lettuces to age prematurely.

Risks & Side Effects

Iceberg Lettuce is almost always consumed raw, which increases the risk of foodborne illness, especially if they are bagged and pre-cut, which is why it’s often preferred to choose loose leaf lettuce instead.

In addition, iceberg lettuce is not as nutrient-dense as other types of lettuce. Hence, I would suggest pairing it with a variety of different leafy greens and other vegetables like eggplants to give you a more balanced diet.

In Conclusion

Often being criticized as a nutrient-poor leafy green, iceberg lettuces indeed get their bad rep over time especially when packed in together with other leafy greens as a salad. However, do not let this change your opinion of this leafy green, because they still do contain several important nutrients which can easily fit into a balanced healthy diet.

Iceberg lettuce’s nutrition profile is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin K, Vitamin A, and folate. And thanks to its high water and fiber content, iceberg lettuce may help accelerate weight loss efforts and promote regularity.

Lastly, if you experience any adverse side effects after eating lettuce such as symptoms due to allergy, discontinue consumption immediately and consult your doctor!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s