Does Romaine Lettuce Have Any Nutritional Benefits?

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on April 14, 2017Written by Corey Whelan on April 14, 2017

Romaine lettuce

Sturdy, crunchy, and packed with nutrition, romaine lettuce is a hearty salad green. Also known as cos lettuce, romaine lettuce is high in fiber and low in calories.

It’s also known for its nutritional benefits and savory, yet neutral taste.

What nutritional value does romaine lettuce have?

A dieter’s dream, romaine lettuce has about 8 calories and 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Although it’s low in fiber, it’s high in minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. It’s naturally low in sodium. Plus, romaine lettuce is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It’s a good source of beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body.

The nutrients in romaine lettuce provide multiple health benefits. They include:

  • Vitamin C helps support the immune system, is high in antioxidants, and helps keep bones and teeth strong.
  • Calcium is necessary for the building and maintenance of bones, muscle function, nerve function, and blood clotting.
  • Vitamin K is also necessary for blood clotting. It works together with calcium to prevent bone mineral loss and fractures due to osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin A (from beta carotene) is a vital nutrient, necessary for health. An antioxidant, vitamin A supports cell growth and reproductive health. It also helps to maintain the heart, kidneys, and lungs. Vitamin A also supports the eyes.
  • Folate is a B vitamin, which supports cell division, the production of DNA, and genetic material. Folate deficiency in pregnant women can lead to complications with pregnancy, including premature birth, low birth weight, or the birth defect spina bifida.
  • Phosphorus works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth.
  • Magnesium helps enzymes function and relaxes the muscles in your body. It works with calcium to build tissue.
  • Potassium is an electrolyte that helps your heart beat regularly. It supports nerve function and helps your muscles contract normally. Potassium also helps your cells to move, and utilize, nutrients efficiently. It minimizes the negative impact of sodium (salt) on the body.

Read more: 6 essential nutrients and why we need them »

How to use romaine lettuce at home

As with all produce, fresh is best. Strive to eat romaine within a few days of purchase. You can buy hearts of romaine lettuce instead of the entire head. However, the outermost leaves are highest in nutrient density. No matter which type you buy, make sure to wash thoroughly to remove dirt and debris.

Romaine lettuce is probably best known for its use in Caesar salad, but is also delicious halved, brushed with olive oil, and grilled.

If you’re trying to sneak added nutrients onto your family’s plates, romaine can make a great cushion for any type of crunchy food. This tasty sweet potato black bean tostada uses romaine lettuce, chopped and spread liberally, to add nutrients and fiber.

Romaine leaves are sturdy and large, making them an excellent covering for wraps or a substitute for sandwich bread. Simply spread your filling on a leaf of romaine, fold or roll, and eat. You can use a toothpick to hold your creation together if you’re planning on making a healthy lunchbox treat for your child. Just make sure the toothpick is a bright color and prominently placed, so it is not accidentally bitten into.

You can use romaine in any type of salad you choose and as a topping for tacos or chili. It is also hearty enough to add to stir fry dishes — just be sure to make it the last ingredient you add so it doesn’t cook too long.

Takeaway

Romaine lettuce is a low-calorie, nutritious food that contains a number of important vitamins and minerals. With an extensive number of ways to use it in salads and other recipes, it should be easy to add this leafy green to your regular diet.

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