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Lettuce: Which kinds are you adding to your palette?

Who doesn’t love a great salad? Most salads start with “lettuce” the basic ingredient. Lettuce is a staple food item for many people. However, beyond the typical Iceberg and Romaine, many people don’t realize there are numerous lettuce varieties. With more than 100 different hybrids of lettuce, is one deemed more nutritional than others are?
Did you know that that the darker the lettuce, the more nutrients are packed in it? It’s true!
Basic Lettuce Types
The four basic lettuce types are Iceberg, Romaine, Butterhead and Leaf
Iceberg
Iceberg is the common name for crisp head lettuce. It is a very crisp lettuce lacking much flavor. Although packed with water, Iceberg doesn’t contain as many essential nutrients as other lettuce types do (hence the light color). Although the vitamins found in Iceberg are in much smaller quantity, you will still be contributing to your daily intake of both vitamins and minerals.
Regardless of the lack of nutrients, Iceberg is still great served as a wedge with your favorite type of salad dressing, and other assorted fruits or vegetables.
Romaine
In addition to Iceberg, Romaine lettuce is one of the more popular lettuces. Although it still has the crunch of Iceberg, Romaine leaves differ in color and taste. Romaine leaves have a deeper green color and a bitter taste. Romaine lettuce contains high amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
Butterhead
This variety of lettuce is softer and more fragile than Iceberg and Romaine. It will cost you a little more at the grocery store, but has a sweet taste you can’t resist.
Bibb lettuce, a subtype of Butterhead lettuce, contains higher amounts of beta-carotene (the nutrients found in carrots, that contribute to good eye and skin health) than some other lighter green lettuce varieties. Use Butterhead lettuce to make Asian chicken wraps.
Leaf
Leaf lettuce is a colorful lettuce. Red leaf, green leaf and Oak leaf are all hybrids of this type, which vary in color and taste. Overall, leaf lettuce is typically a tender and mild lettuce. It offers ample amounts of Vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium.
This type of this lettuce easily wilts, so put your dressing on the side. Although some varieties contain more vitamins than other types, including lettuce in your diet is a healthy choice. All lettuce types are low calorie and high in fiber. Enjoy adding a variety of dishes made with lettuce to your plate! Source: Karen Softley, Regional Agent.