Romaine Lettuce is such an important Super Food that a Greek island is named after it and France has a dedicated day for this lettuce. Romaine or cos lettuce is a variety of lettuce which grows in a tall head of sturdy leaves with a firm rib down the center. Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant of heat.
Many dictionaries trace the word cos to the name of the Greek island of Cos, from which the lettuce was presumably introduced. Other authorities trace it to the Arabic word for lettuce is khus.
It apparently reached the West via Rome, as in Italian it is called lattuga romana and in French laitue romaine, both meaning ‘Roman lettuce’, hence the name ‘romaine’, the common term in American English. The thick ribs, especially on the older outer leaves, should have a milky fluid which gives the romaine the typically fine-bitter herb taste. Romaine is the usual lettuce used in Caesar salad. Romaine lettuce is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Romaine lettuce may be used in the Passover Seder as a type of bitter herb, to symbolise the bitterness inflicted by the Egyptians while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
Romaine lettuce Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
- Energy 72 kJ (17 kcal)
- Carbohydrates 3.3 g
- Dietary fibre 2.1 g
- Fat 0.3 g
- Protein 1.2 g
- Water 95 g
- Vitamin A equiv. 290 µg (36%)
- Folate (vit. B9) 136 µg (34%)
- Vitamin C 24 mg (29%)
- Calcium 33 mg (3%)
- Iron 0.97 mg (7%)
- Phosphorus 30 mg (4%)
- Potassium 247 mg (5%)
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database
As with other dark leafy greens, the antioxidants contained within romaine lettuce are believed to help prevent cancer. According to the 2011 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the chlorophyll pigment in dark leafy greens, such as Romaine lettuce, may reduce levels of colon and liver cancer carcinogens. The day of 22 Germinal in the French Republican Calendar is dedicated to this lettuce.
Romaine’s vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green. Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol becomes oxidized, it becomes sticky and starts to build up in the artery walls forming plaques. If these plaques become too large, they can block off blood flow or break, causing a clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects.
In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.
Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine’s folic acid content. This B vitamin is needed by the body to convert a damaging chemical called homocysteine into other, benign substances. If not converted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of potassium, which has been shown in numerous studies to be useful in lowering high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. With its folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber content, romaine lettuce can significantly contribute to a heart-healthy diet.
Health benefits of Romaine Lettuce
- Protein.Romaine lettuce is 17% protein with 7.7 grams per head. It is also a complete protein! That means that it has all 8 essential amino acids, 9% RDA of some and up to 26% RDA of others.
- Calcium.One head of romaine has 206mg of calcium (about 21% RDA). Blend it with calcium rich fruits like papaya and oranges and youll get more calcium than a glass of milk!
- Omega-3s.One head of romaine lettuce contains 44% RDA of Omega-3 essential fats. Forget the tainted fish oils, reach for some leafy greens instead!
- More Vitamin C Than An Orange.One head of romaine contains 167% RDA of vitamin C while an average sized orange contains only 92%.
- Iron.One head of romaine contains 6mg of iron, which ads a significant source of iron to the diets of vegetarians and vegans.
- Romaine Lettuce is Rich in B-vitamins:
Thiamine (B1) 38% RDA, Riboflavin (B2) 32% RDA, Niacin (B3) 12% RDA, Pantothenic Acid (B5) 18%, Pyridoxine (B6) 36 %, Folate (B9) 213%!
One head of romaine provides 16% of your daily water needs with about 20 ounces of water per head!
- Rich Source of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and K.As with most leafy greens, romaine is super rich in beta-carotene with 1817% RDA per head and has 535% RDA of vitamin K.
- Low Levels of Oxalic Acid.If you have problems with calcium oxalate kidney stones, romaine lettuce might be a good choice for leafy greens since it is very low in this anti-nutrient.
Dont let the lighter color of romaine lettuce fool you. This not-so-dark leafy green is rich in minerals. One head contains copper (33% RDA), magnesium (22% RDA), manganese (42% RDA), phosphorus (27% RDA), potassium (33%), selenium (5% RDA) and zinc (13% RDA).
Five nutrients of Romaine Lettuce
The fiber found in romaine lettuce will not only help you to feel satiated, but it will reduce your blood cholesterol. The fiber found in romaine lettuce promotes a healthy colon by easing digestion and protecting your colon from colorectal cancer. Adults should consume approximately 30 grams of fiber a day for optimum health. Fiber can also be a diet aid, because it can inhibit fat absorption and help you feel full without increasing your caloric intake.
Folate is a B vitamin which is found in various leafy green vegetables, like romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce contains 136ug of folate per serving. Folate is important for energy and it also regulates mood. Folate has been implicated in the prevention of neurological disease, such as Alzheimers disease. Folate can also decrease depression and anxiety. A deficiency in folate can cause irritability, fatigue, mental confusion and gum disease. Folate deficiency has also been linked to birth defects, so it is essential for pregnant women to consume enough leafy green vegetables.
Carotenoids are antioxidants which protect your cells from damage. Carotenoids are especially important for the health and protection of your eyes. Romaine lettuce specifically contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are thought to prevent ocular diseases such as Macular Degeneration. Additionally, the carotenoid nutrition found in romaine lettuce can also reduce some of the adverse effects of smoking (if you were formerly a smoker). Carotenoids can repair damaged tissue.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Romaine lettuce contains 24mg of vitamin C per serving. This essential antioxidant found in romaine lettuce protects your body from foreign invaders and promotes healthy tissue growth. In addition to strengthening your immune system, vitamin C is thought to reduce inflammation in the body and increase your pain threshold. This is especially important if you are an athlete and/or suffer from chronic pain.
Saponins are phytochemicals found in leafy green vegetables, like romaine lettuce. Saponins have numerous health benefits including lowering cholesterol and increasing your immune system health. Saponins help to lower cholesterol by removing LDL cholesterol from your intestine and making absorption of cholesterol difficult. Saponins have a special antioxidant-like property which decreases your risk of contracting a parasite infection.
Romaine lettuce actually contains many essential vitamins and other nutrients. The benefits of eating romaine lettuce range from boosting your immune system to lowering your blood pressure to increasing weight loss.