I’m sure somewhere along the way you’ve heard the recommendation to avoid iceberg lettuce and opt for darker greens. The message is that iceberg has no nutrients, is mostly water and you won’t get any nutritional value from it. I’m not sure where or why this message started but my hope is that I can help put an end to this iceberg shaming.
Yes, it’s true if you compare iceberg (otherwise known as head lettuce) to other lettuce varieties like Romaine or leaf lettuce, iceberg will come up short. However, iceberg is a vegetable. It is not void of nutrients as many would have you believe. It contains Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, B Vitamins like Folate and minerals including Manganese and Iron. It also contains about 25% of your daily Vitamin K needs per serving. Vitamin K plays an important role in helping your blood to clot so you don’t bleed out during an injury and is also important for bone health as well as heart health.
Iceberg does contain water, about 1/4th cup per serving. This isn’t a bad thing despite what you may read. Many people struggle getting enough fluid so getting water through the foods you eat helps meet your daily quota. Fruits and vegetables all contain varying amounts of water. Watermelon carries about 1/2 cup water per serving yet no one tells you not to eat it.
For those with endocrine issues like Prediabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, iceberg offers a low carbohydrate, low glycemic food you can layer on your sandwich or salads that won’t make a big impact on your blood sugar.
The cold crunch of this special lettuce has a unique quality providing an enjoyable eating experience that can help you feel more satisfied. I for one love that cool crunchiness on a taco, a lettuce wrap or a turkey sandwich. It wouldn’t be the same pleasurable experience using other leafy greens.
If iceberg were the only vegetable you ate, I’d suggest more variety so you get different nutrients but I’d recommend that same sentiment if you only ate broccoli or tomatoes. Variety is key and iceberg can be just as much a part of that as any other vegetable.
Meri Raffetto is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, triplet mom and author of the Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies and coauthor of the Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies, and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies.