How to tell which salad greens are the most nutritious

Heeey Super Stars!

How’s your week going? Mine’s going great! I haven’t been able to post sooner due to it being the get-healthy month:) I’ve been slammed with Wellness client calls and evaluations. It’s been great! I’ve met some incredible people!!

Recently my sister and I went out to eat and started talking about lettuce. I know, we’re pretty deep.

She asked which ones were healthiest.  I realized that I really didn’t know the differences between similar lettuces such as romaine and butter lettuce. I knew the obvious choices of lettuce were the darker ones, such as kale, spinach or swiss chard.

Another thing I realized is that there are SO many different types of lettuces out there, and so many names that I was not familiar with.

grens Pic

So? I decided to do a post on the differences between lettuce leaves—mostly for my sake 🙂 In my research, I concluded that really, there’s not much more to comparing the nutrition density of lettuce than this:

  • The darker and more colorful, the more packed with nutrients
    • Why? The leaves are able to absorb more light if the leaves are dark.
  • The looser the leaf, the more packed with nutrients
    • Why?  More sunlight can reach the leaf, enabling the leaf to convert the sunlight to nutrients. Cabbage is tight—it does not allow sunlight in.

When you compare salad greens that have the same color, and are both loose leaf, don’t stress it. Pick whichever you prefer most. No big deal.

What I did enjoy finding out, was that lettuce is packed with a higher amount of vitamins than I realized. In some lettuces, such as kale and spinach, you can get your full day’s serving of Vitamin A, in just one cup.

Before, I thought you would have to eat GREAT amounts of any type of lettuce to equal anything substantial. While that is the case in some lettuces, it’s not with all.

For example:

You need 7 cups of Spinach to get your day’s worth of Vitamin C, one cup for Kale, and 33 cups of Iceberg lettuce. Interesting.

Here is a comparison chart with the common lettuces, compared to their nutritional value of vitamins: C, K, A (the most common vitamins in lettuce).

Vitamin C Vitamin K Vitamin A
Highest amt Kale Kale Kale
Spinach Spinach Spinach
Romaine Romaine Romaine
Argula Red Leaf Red Leaf
Iceberg Argula Argula
Lowest amt Red Leaf Iceberg Iceberg

Below I will give you a super simple break down of many popular lettuces out there. I will give pictures and brief descriptions of how they are used.

At first I was recording the nutrients they are high in—but I soon found that most all of the dark green lettuces have very similar nutritional values. I was writing the SAME things over and over. So, just know that they are mostly all packed with:

Vitamin A, C and K!!!! Then you’ve got iron, calcium, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, among a few.

They all brag to be loaded with flavenoids and phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Most all have research done about having anti-cancer effects, cholesterol lowering benefits, aid in detox, and inflammation lowering qualities.

SO?? EAT A LOT OF GREENS EVERY DAY!!!! AT LEAST 2 CUPS WORTH!!

That is a GREAT way to get loaded up on vitamins and minerals (helping your body perform better in every way), without stuffing yourself with calories. Great for weight loss. I tell my clients to try to get satisfied off of veggies first, before they turn to what culture says should be our main meal. You feel clean when you stick to greens as your main deal.

TIPS FOR EATING OUT:

When ordering a salad, always ask for extra greens. Most restaurants serve Iceberg lettuce unless asked, so see if they have romaine, spring greens or spinach! Just asking will get you farther than you think!

Let’s take a look at these lettuce leaves—see how many you already know.

Again—I rate on how dark and colorful they are, and if they are loose leaf or not. Simple.

Spinach

green leaves of spinach Pic

  • Most common loose leaf lettuce
  • Tender but sturdy
  • Great in salads, scrambled eggs, pizza, smoothies

Romaine

RomaineLettuce Pic

  • Soft and crispy
  • Common salad lettuce, or in a mix

Iceberg

lettuce_iceberg Pic

  • Just a filler. You won’t find very many nutrients in there.
  • Very crunchy
  • When you go to restaurants,they usually have this option. Ask a waiter if they have romaine, spring greens or spinach instead.

Kale

images Pic

  • The “super food.”
  • Highest amounts of Vitamin K, A and C
  • Bitter
  • Great in smoothies and small quantities in salads (due to bitter taste)

Red Leaf Lettuce

lettuce_red_leaf Pic

  • Loose leaf
  • Similar to Romaine, but less Vitamin K
  • Does not last as long as other lettuces
  • Makes for a fancier sandwich, adding the color and texture

Baby Green Oak

lettuce_baby_green_oak Pic

  • Delicate, loose leaf
  • Vitamin A and potassium
  • Often in a mixed salad
  • Used as border plants in gardens

Butter Lettuce (or Boston lettuce/BIB lettuce)

lettuce_butter_lettuce Pic

  • A favorite salad green–Both soft and tender, and tough. Has “Buttery leaves”
  • Loose leaf.
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Great for wraps
  • Stays fresher longer than other lettuces
  • Sweet flavor, just need  a simple vinaigrette
  • Looks fancy

Green Leaf

lettuce_green_leaf Pic

  • Traditional salad lettuce
  • Loose leaf
  • More Vitamin C and K compared to Romaine
  • But, less Vitamin A than Romaine lettuce
  • Considered healthier than Romaine and Butter lettuce
  • Used in place of a tortilla, or in wrap sandwiches as a liner, or as bedding for chicken

Argula

argyla Pic

  • Known as Rocket Salad
  • A good substitute for Spinach
  • Peppery flavor. Popular in Italian cuisine.
  • Random fact: Romans considered it an aphrodisiac—what the??

Spring Greens

spring-greens-008 Pic

  • A type of dark green cabbage
  • Loose leaf
  • Not as fibrous as regular cabbage
  • GREAT option, found in many restaurants.
  • Taste sweeter and fresher than regular cabbages
  • Known for Vitamin C and K and anti-cancer actions.

Endive

lettuce_curly_endive Pic

  • Bitter
  • Loose leaf
  • Added to salads for extra texture and bounce

Swiss Chard

swiss chard Pic

  • “Nutritional powerhouse.” Ranks second to Spinach in total nutrient-richness
  • Unique source of betalain—from the reddish-purple pigments (COLOR!!)
  • Bitter taste
  • Often sautéed

Collard Greens

ING-collard-greens_sql Pic

  • Packed with nutrients
  • Hard with a strong cabbage taste
  • Great for sautéing, soups, stews, slow cooking

Mustard greens

mustard greens Pic

  • High in nutrition
  • Hard and crispy
  • Pungent, peppery taste

Dandelion Greens

SONY DSC  Pic

  • Add to your salad or green smoothie
  • Packed with nutrition

Beet Greens

 Pic

  • Add to salad or green smoothie!
  • Great sautéed
  • Packed with nutrition
  • Notice the red color—means it’s got extra nutrients!
  • Don’t throw these away next time you buy beets!

_________________________________________________________________

Whew! We made it!

At least now when you go to a restaurant or buy lettuce from stores, you’ll be more aware of what is what, how to tell how much ones are denser in nutrients than others.

Have a GREAT day!!

Don’t forget to sign up for the 5 week HEALTH CHALLENGE!!!!

3c5bf4ef4464b3a375021fd652b40515

My team is getting full, and we’ve already made a lot of progress with weight los, dessert control, exercise and drinking more water!

I’d love for you to join—the last day is January 25th! It’s been a blast!!

Have an AMAZING day and weekend (is it seriously already Friday?)!! See you next week with awesome pictures and updates!

19 thoughts on “How to tell which salad greens are the most nutritious

    • Hey Alysa, great question!
      Kale has a way higher nutritional value than spinach per cup (you can google that) so I’m not sure what they mean by ‘better.’ If you hear more let me know:)

      Mostly what I learned for this is to not care anymore–they’re all good, so just rotate them. One plant has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and another one will balance it.

  1. This is very interesting, I always knew dark greens were important but just how important I just did not realize. Thanks for sharing all these important things.

Serious! I would love to hear what you think about that!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge