close up of lettuce leaves
Kingdom – Plantae
Class – Tracheophytes
Class – Angiosperms
Class – Eudicots
Class – Asterids
Order – Asterales
Family – Asteraceae
Tribe – Cichorieae
Genus – Lactuca
Species – L. sativa
- Lettuce is a temperate annual or biennial plant mostly grown as a leaf vegetable.
- The lettuce plant, in the beginning, has a short stem but when it grows and blooms the stem increases in length and branches. It produces a lot of flower heads that look like dandelions but are smaller in size
- The process of producing flower heads is called bolting. When lettuce is grown to eat, it is harvested before it bolts.
- Lettuce plants can have taproots or fibrous root systems. Lettuce generally have a height and spread of 15 to 30 cm
- The colour of the leaves of domesticated varieties come in a wide range, from shades of green to deep red and purple.
- Lettuce requires a lot of water for successful cultivation especially in warmer weather.
- There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce. The production of lettuce continues year around cause they peak at different times of the year.
- There are generally four main groups of cultivators based on head formation and leaf structure
- Following are the groups: head lettuce, romaine or cos lettuce; stem or asparagus lettuce; leaf lettuce.
- Some lettuces are deliberately bred to remove the bitterness from their leaves. These have higher water content and very little nutrient value. The bitter and pigmented leaves contain antioxidants.
- Lettuce is a nutrient-dense and low-calorie food with high water content
History of lettuce
- Lettuce was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, they turned it from a weed whose seeds were used to produce oil, into a food plant grown for its succulent leaves
- Lettuce was served to the Persian Kings of the sixth century BC, according to Herodotus
- Lettuce spread to the Greeks and Romans, the Romans named it Lactuca from which the English lettuce is ultimately derived
- The Romans carried lettuce into Western Europe and Asia to China
- The United States of America and the new world were introduced by Columbus.
- Many varieties of lettuce were developed in Europe between the late sixteenth century and early eighteenth century.
Quick facts about lettuce
- Lettuce is about 95 percent water, because of which it has to be eaten fresh and cannot be frozen, dried, canned, or pickled.
- In the United States of America, lettuce is the second most popular fresh veggie behind potato.
- Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin K and vitamin A and a moderate source of folate and iron.
- The contaminated lettuce is often a source of bacterial, parasitic, and viral outbreaks in humans.
- The presence of some fruits in the fridge may harm the lettuce, fruits like apples and bananas produce ethylene and this gas may promote lettuce ripening.
- The top five lettuce producing countries are; China, the United States of America, India, Spain, and Italy.
- Lettuce can provide the human body with protein, minerals, iron, and vitamins K, C, A.
- Dark green lettuce leaves are more nutritious than light green leaves.
- There are hieroglyphic records of lettuce being grown over six thousand years ago.
the image of green and red leaves lettuce
Health benefits of lettuce
- Hydration – water makes up over 95 percent of raw lettuce, as a result eating lettuce hydrates the body.
- Bone strength – lettuce provides vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones, consumption of vitamin K in adequate amounts also reduces the risk of bone fracture.
- Antioxidants – red leaf lettuce boasts a number of antioxidants that protect the body from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
- Healthy heart – while no study directly tested the effects of lettuce on heart health, lettuce has 3 percent of the DV for magnesium and 5 percent for potassium. Potassium and magnesium maintain a healthy heartbeat and allow the heart’s muscle cells to relax.
- Lower blood pressure – potassium which is found in adequate amount in lettuce, appears to lower blood pressure by lessening the effects of sodium and helping dilate the blood vessels .
- Weight loss – lettuce is extremely low in calories but has a fair amount of fibre and has a higher water content which promotes weight loss .
- Improved sleep – extracts of multiple lettuce types have been shown to promote sleep.
- Improved vision – lettuce is a source of vitamin A, which plays a role in eye health. Vitamin A reduces the risk of cataracts
- Nutrition – the nutritional content of lettuce varies across varieties, almost all lettuces contain a significant amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron.