It’s a salad staple. But why exactly is it considered a vegetable? In this article, we explain the botanic definition of vegetables, and we answer why lettuce falls in this category. In addition, we explain the benefits of eating lettuce. Lastly, we address the concern as to whether or not it is safe to eat this vegetable raw.
Why is Lettuce a Vegetable?
A vegetable is defined in many ways. But its broadest definition is “any plant, part of which is used for food.” Vegetables are distinct from fruits in that the latter is the mature ovary of a plant.
Vegetables are grouped depending on what part of the plant is used for food. In this case, lettuce is considered a leaf vegetable. Other vegetable classifications are stem, roots, tubers, bulbs, and flowers.
What are the Benefits of Eating Lettuce?
Lettuce has many health benefits. It has high water content. It also contains amounts of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sugars. In addition, it has vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
Lettuce is beneficial as an anti-inflammatory agent, known for fighting inflammation induced by biocatalysts like lipoxygenase.
It is also known to lower cholesterol, high levels of which are known to lead to cardiovascular diseases and other dangerous conditions.
Besides the benefits mentioned above, lettuce is also known to induce sleep, work as an antioxidant and antimicrobial agent.
In some accounts, lettuce is said to contain anti-anxiety properties.
Is it Safe to Eat Raw Lettuce?
Raw lettuce is safe to eat. But what is important is that you are aware of and practice proper handling.
Some lettuce bought from your supermarket is labeled “washed”, “triple washed” or “ready-to-eat”. There is no need to wash this.
Otherwise, here’s the proper way of washing your raw lettuce. First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. You also need to clean the sink, colander, and any other utensils that will come in contact with your lettuce. It is also important that you use cold running water.
To dry your raw lettuce, use a clean salad spinner or a paper towel that has not been previously used for any other purpose.
What is the Healthiest Lettuce?
Among all lettuce varieties, butter lettuce tops the list of the healthiest. Otherwise called Boston or bibb lettuce, its leaves are higher in folate, iron, and potassium.
Also one of the healthiest is Romaine lettuce. It has been ranked among the top 10 powerhouse foods by the CDC, or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This list is based on the foods’ associations with reduced risks of chronic diseases. Romaine lettuce is also considered by nutritionists and dieticians as the best variety of these green leafy vegetables.
Lettuce is a vegetable as it is a plant that is used for food. Particularly, it is classified as a leaf vegetable. It is a healthy vegetable as it has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and known for lowering cholesterol levels. As long as handled properly, it is safe to eat raw. Butter and Romaine are the healthiest types of lettuce.