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Green and good for you

July 7, 2023
2 minutes

Could your mealtimes use a touch more green? For a variety of nutrients, eat a rainbow of produce colors—including leafy greens. They help supply nutrients your body needs, like vitamins A and K and folate, but not too many calories.

Lettuce is one type of leafy green. But there are more types of lettuce to discover besides the trusty iceberg variety.

And, in addition to lettuce, plenty of other leafy greens—from arugula to spinach—deserve a place on your plate.

Look beyond iceberg lettuce

For lettuces, try:

Boston or bibb lettuce, which offers a mild flavor and buttery texture.

Loose-leaf lettuce, which refers to lettuces that don’t grow in a tight head, like iceberg does. Loose-leaf lettuce is flavorful and high in folate and beta-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A.

Romaine, which has a crispy crunch and mild flavor. Darker lettuces, like romaine, pack more nutrients than those with lighter-colored leaves. In fact, romaine has about nine times more vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.

For other leafy greens, try:

Arugula, which has a peppery flavor.

Mache. Also known as lamb’s lettuce, mache offers a mild flavor and has a green color.

Kale, whose bold, dark-green color packs a slightly bitter bite.

Mesclun. This refers to a mix of tender salad greens, like arugula and frisée, along with red radicchio.

Kitchen tips

Looking for ideas for preparing delicious dishes with lettuce and other greens? Consider these:

Add darker greens to lettuce you’re used to. Start with iceberg or romaine. Toss in spinach, kale, watercress or arugula. Add a citrus-based or fat-free dressing and a small amount of unsalted nuts.

Sauté your greens. Instead of boiling greens like spinach or kale, sauté them in a tiny bit of olive oil. This preserves more of their nutrients. Season with pepper and garlic. Use your sautéed greens as a side dish or a bed for grilled fish.

Top a pizza with greens. Sprinkle arugula plus your favorite toppings over a pizza made with a whole-wheat crust.

Grill your greens. Grill romaine leaves brushed with olive oil. Top with toasted walnuts.

Make a lettuce wrap. Roll up sautéed chicken breast and your favorite herbs and spices inside leaves of Boston, iceberg or loose-leaf lettuce.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Institute for Cancer Research; Produce for Better Health Foundation; U.S. Department of Agriculture

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