When it comes to your salad leaves, experts agree: “The darker the green, the more nutrients.” It’s true that darker greens tend to contain more beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps the body form vitamin A.
This fact has led many savvy shoppers to load up on kale and collard greens and shun the iceberg. In the quest for being your healthiest self, you might have ditched iceberg salads altogether (even if you kinda liked them).
So let’s get one thing straight: Just because iceberg lettuce has lower amounts of certain nutrients than spinach or chard does *not* mean you shouldn’t eat it. In some ways, iceberg even wins some nutritional battles against its fellow greens.
These health perks of iceberg lettuce will convince you to stop shunning the crispy, crunchy leaves.
1. Iceberg lettuce is like drinking water (basically).
In case you haven’t gotten the memo, drinking enough water might not have to mean drinking eight glasses of water. That’s because about 20 to 30 percent of your total water intake from the day comes from your food, according to a 2016 study in the journal Nutrients.
Some foods have a higher water content than others. Watermelon, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce are hydration superfoods. Iceberg, for example, is 95 percent water. Eating water-rich foods and drinking plenty of water can help you avoid symptoms of dehydration and prevent constipation.
2. Iceberg lettuce makes an easy low-carb swap.
“Carb” isn’t a bad word, and giving up carbs completely is a nutritional no-go. But more than half of the U.S. population meets or exceeds the recommended amount of grains in their daily diet, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Swapping some of your grains for fresh fruits and vegetables can help balance out your diet.
Not every lettuce is ideal for a lettuce wrap. Spinach is too soft, arugula is too small, and kale is fibrous and has a strong flavor that might distract from your sandwich fillings.
For just two calories and 0.5 carbs per leaf, iceberg lettuce holds your favorite chicken salad without adding a tough texture or bitter flavor. Check out this recipe for lamb lettuce wraps with a two-ingredient sauce.
3. Iceberg lettuce is a good source of potassium.
The majority of Americans are deficient in the mineral potassium, which helps counter the negative effects of sodium on the body. The daily recommended value is 3,500 milligrams for adults, but the average American only clocks about 2,900 milligrams of potassium daily, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Sure, iceberg lettuce is no potassium powerhouse like potatoes or bananas, but every bit of potassium is important to get that number closer to the recommended 3,500 milligrams. (Psst … here are 5 foods that have more potassium than a banana.)
Iceberg lettuce does provide a surprising 102 milligrams of potassium per cup, proving that it’s not as void in nutrition as some people claim. Add that to the typical 2,900 milligrams most people get, and you’d only be one more banana from reaching the daily goal.
4. Iceberg lettuce provides modest amounts of certain nutrients.
OK, here’s more proof that iceberg isn’t worth the ban: It actually does boost your intake of some phytonutrients. One cup of shredded lettuce provides:
17 mcg of vitamin K (20 percent of the DV)
361 IU of vitamin A (7 percent of the DV)
21 mcg of folate (6 percent of the DV)
2 mg of vitamin C (3 percent of the DV)
If those don’t sound impressive to you, remember that all those perks come in just a 10-calorie package. Iceberg lettuce offers an easy and low-calorie way to bump up your nutrient intake.
Ready to add iceberg lettuce back in your life?