by Therese Patterson, NC
Most people don’t realize that not all types of salad greens are created equal. I personally like to include a variety of different types of lettuce in my salad. Not only will a variety of greens allow you to enjoy a variety of different flavors and textures, but you also get to enjoy the range of nutrients each green has to offer. And while lettuce or salad greens are not often recognized as a great source of nutritional value, some varieties pack a surprising vitamin and mineral punch as you can see from the chart below.
Nutritional Comparison of Salad Greens Based on a 1 Cup Serving
||Vit A (IU)
|Butterhead (Bib and Boston)
Iceberg lettuce is included in the chart, not because I recommend it, but because it is so commonly served when eating out. Romaine lettuce has eight times more vitamin A and six times more vitamin C than iceberg lettuce, so iceberg would not be my lettuce of choice. After selecting your salad greens, creating a wonderful salad is only limited by your imagination— nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, beans, cheese, grains (try a spinach salad with lentils, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and a light vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice-yum-o!).
Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach, with its delicate texture and jade green color, provide more nutrients than any other food. Baby spinach is a good source of calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, provitamin A and vitamin C.