Romaine Lettuce represents a variety of lettuce, in the form of a long head of strong leaves, with a strong rib down the center. It is, however, different from other lettuces, in being heat tolerant and also in having a slight pleasant bitter taste. It belongs primarily to the Eastern Mediterranean region and Western Asia and derives its scientific name, Lactuva sativa, from a Latin word that means milk. Romaine lettuce has been grown since a long time, dating back to around 4500 BC, as revealed from the depictions on the ancient Egyptian tombs. It was held in high regard by the ancient Greeks and Romans, owing to both its taste and medicinal properties. It has been grown in China since the 5th century. In fact, the Chinese consider romaine lettuce to be a sign of good luck. It was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus, during his second voyage, in 1493. In 17th century, the Spanish missionaries planted the lettuce for the first time in California. Its popularity grew across the globe with the development of refrigeration and the railway infrastructure. Today, it will available across the globe and is widely consumed, owing to its taste and high nutritional value. Some of the health benefits of Romaine lettuce have been given below.
Health Benefits Of Eating Romaine Lettuce
- Romaine lettuce contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are highly beneficial for the heart. It prevents the oxidation of cholesterol, which builds up in the artery walls in the form of plaque and blocks off the blood flow. This creates a clot, which leads to heart attack.
- The lettuce has fiber elements, which help in keeping the digestive system healthy. It helps in lowering the cholesterol level by helping the body make more bile. It does so by binding to the bile salts in the colon and removing them from the body, which in turn gears up the bile production.
- Romaine lettuce contains folic acid, which is as much beneficial for the heart as vitamin C, Beta-carotene and the fiber elements. It helps the body convert homocysteine into other benign substances. Homocysteine is a dangerous chemical, which if not converted, can directly hamper the blood vessels. This can, in turn, enhance the risk of heart attack.
- The lettuce is rich in potassium, which helps in bringing down high blood pressure, another cause of heart disease.
- Romaine lettuce is extremely helpful in fighting the fatal disease cancer. The American institute for Cancer has listed it in its group of foods that fight cancer.
- The lettuce is extremely low in calorie content and has high water volume. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, chromium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals like potassium, molybdenum, iron and phosphorus. Romaine is, thus, rich in so many vital elements for the body and is a highly nutritious food.
- Romaine lettuce may contain a considerable amount of pesticide residues, which are highly detrimental to health. They can seriously affect the liver’s function of processing other toxins. They also affect the cells’ production of energy and hamper the nerves’ capacity to send messages. In order to avoid the pesticide-related deadly effects of the lettuce, it is advisable to consume only the ones that are organically grown.
- Romaine lettuce forms an integral part of many salads, especially the Caesar salad. Adding the lettuce can increase both the look and taste of a salad.
- The lettuce should be properly cleaned before use. Cleaning it would involve removing the outer leaves and cutting the tip of other leaves, since they taste bitter.
- For cleaning romaine lettuce, put the leaves into a large bowl of lukewarm water. Clean the leaves thoroughly, so that no grain of sand or dirt remains with the leaves. Once they are clean, take the leaves out of the water and throw away the dirty water. Fill the bowl with clean water and repeat the cleaning process, till the time there is no dirt remaining in the water.
- Before adding the lettuce leaves to a salad, make sure that they are dry, as any water content remaining in the leaves can dilute the flavor. Dry the leaves either by patting them or by using a salad spinner. Chop the lettuce leaves and use for dressing on your salad.
- You can use lettuce leaves for garnishing sandwiches. It is even used in Passover Seder, as the bitter herb that symbolizes the bitterness faced by the Israelites in Egypt.