Lettuce: Is it a Vegetable? (Full Answer Here)

Most people believe it’s easy to tell a fruit from a vegetable.

But in the world of food, there are many plants that most people consider to be vegetables that are actually fruits, and vice-versa.

Tomato is a good example, right?

People didn’t know whether it was a vegetable or a fruit until the Supreme Court settled the matter once and for all by deeming it a fruit.

What about lettuce, is it a vegetable? Botanically, lettuce is considered a vegetable that belongs to the aster family (or Asteraceae), one of the largest plant families. Vegetables are any edible part of an herbaceous plant, and lettuce represents a leaf vegetable. 

In this article, I’m going to explain in detail why lettuce is considered a vegetable (and not a fruit), why it’s a vegetable that you should add to your diet to reap its benefits, and I’ll also speak about other preponderant types of lettuce that you should eventually consider trying.

Why is Lettuce a Vegetable?

We know that vegetables are any edible part of the plant. They’re usually grouped according to part of the plant that is eaten, in other words, leaves, stems, roots, tubers, bulbs, and flowers. 

Lettuces are the edible leafy part of the plant, so they’re generally considered a vegetable for that reason.

Fruits, on the other hand, are the seed-bearing structures that grow from a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all the other edible plant parts.

Interesting fact about lettuce:
Lettuce was originally cultivated in ancient Egypt for the extraction of oil from its seeds. It was not considered a leafy vegetable, but an aphrodisiac. The Egyptian God of fertility was said to have had an extreme love of lettuce.

Why Adding Lettuce To Your Diet is Important

lettuce

The benefits of lettuce vary across the different existing varieties, which depend on their respective nutritional content. In other words, it depends on the number of vitamins and minerals they contain.

Let’s look at some of the benefits associated with lettuce consumption:

Bone Strength

Because lettuce is a source of vitamin K, it is positively associated with bone health. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin K can reduce the risk of bone fracture, and improve bone strength.

Hydration

Raw lettuce contains 95% water, which means that eating lettuce hydrates the body. Even though you should surely drink liquids (namely, water), eating vegetables with high water content can help with hydration.

Improved Vision

Lettuce is a source of vitamin A, a vitamin that also plays an important role in eye health. Vitamin A can reduce a person’s risk of having cataracts, and it may also prevent macular degeneration.

Improved Sleep

Certain lettuce extracts have been shown to have been able to promote sleep. However, more research is required to know whether or not lettuce in its natural form can produce the same results.

Nutritional Content

The nutritional content of lettuce varies based on the variety of lettuce you eat, but the majority of lettuces contain a significant amount of vitamin A, as well as small amounts of vitamin C and iron.

For example, a cup of chopped iceberg lettuce contains:

  • Calories: 10
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 1 gram

And it contains 7% of the daily value of vitamin A, as well as another small percentage of vitamin C and iron, so if you can, opt for another type of lettuce.

This type of lettuce lacks in terms of nutritional content, but better options exist.

What’s the Best Lettuce One Can Eat?

To show clearly what options are out there, allow me to show you the nutritional content of different types of lettuce, namely butterhead lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce.

For example, a cup of chopped butterhead lettuce contains:

  • Calories: 7
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 1 gram

However, it also contains 36% of the daily value of vitamin A, and also small amounts of vitamin C, iron, and calcium.

A cup of chopped red leaf lettuce contains:

  • Calories: 4
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 0 gram
  • Sugar: 0 gram

Red leaf lettuce has 42% of the daily value of vitamin A, as well as small amounts of vitamin C and iron.

A cup of chopped romaine lettuce contains:

  • Calories: 8
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 1 gram

Romaine lettuce contains 82% of the daily value of vitamin A, as well as small amounts of vitamin C, iron, and calcium, making it the richest form of lettuce among the three. 

In other words, if you have to opt for a certain type of leafy vegetable, opt for the one with the richest micronutrient (vitamins & minerals) profile.

How to Eat More Lettuce

Introducing lettuce to your current diet shouldn’t be difficult, since there are plenty of ways in which you can add lettuce to some of your favorite meals.

Here are a few examples of how you incorporate lettuce in your diet:

  • Turn it into smoothies or juices
  • Make lettuce wraps / tortillas / tacos
  • Include it in salads
  • Use it in sautées or stir-fries
  • Make a lettuce-based soup
  • Make it into slaw

You can also use it to make a sandwich or include it in a grillable veggie burger.

Growing Lettuce at Home

Now that you know the benefits of eating lettuce, and how it can be easily included in a lot of different, unique meals, now it’s time to start getting yourself some lettuce.

While buying lettuce is probably the option that most people seek, you can also grow lettuce at home.

This video below is a good “how-to guide” on how to grow lettuce indoors.

Conclusion

Lettuce is a vegetable as it’s essentially an edible part of a plant, more specifically the leaves.

It’s a truly healthy vegetable that is rich in vitamin A, as well as small amounts of vitamin C, iron, and some forms of lettuce also provide you with calcium. It also contains Vitamin K in small amounts.

The Romaine lettuce is the best type of lettuce since it’s the one with the best nutritional content.

If you want to include lettuce in your diet, there are different ways to do so, in which you can take advantage of its nutrients, while still having a wildly delicious meal.

Related Questions

Does Lettuce Need to be Refrigerated?

Lettuce is a perishable ingredient, compared to many other vegetables. To ensure it has longer lifetime storage, you need to keep it refrigerated, rather than kept at room temperature.

Can Lettuce be Eaten Eaw?

Raw lettuce is safe to eat. When you eat a regular salad, you’re eating a mixture of vegetables (and sometimes fruits) that are uncooked. There is absolutely no problem with that, but you need to ensure that the lettuce has been properly handled and washed.

Lettuce bought in the supermarket (the one that comes prepared in a bag) is often labeled as “washed”, which means that there’s no need for it to be washed at home.

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

Which Candy Kittens Are Vegan? – Full Flavor Breakdown
Previous Post Which Candy Kittens Are Vegan? – Full Flavor Breakdown
Rhubarb: Is it a Fruit or a Vegetable? (Full Answer Here)
Next Post Rhubarb: Is it a Fruit or a Vegetable? (Full Answer Here)