Ask Keri: Is iceberg lettuce really useless as a source of nutrients?
Keri Says: If we ranked leafy greens based on their nutritional value, iceberg lettuce would be near the bottom of the list, but it still contains important nutrients and can definitely be part of a healthy diet.
In other words, yes, I generally recommend going for the greenest leafy vegetables you can find (the darker the green, the denser the nutrients!), but there’s no downside to eating iceberg when it comes on a sandwich. And if it’s the only option around or your kid refuses to eat any other greens, it’s much better to eat it than to skip greens altogether. It’s also a great vehicle for getting other veggies into your system. As in, if it’s the base of a salad that also includes carrots, cucs, and radishes, that’s a win.
Here’s what you need to know.
Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition Facts
Iceberg lettuce gets a bad wrap not because it’s unhealthy, but because it’s made up of mostly water, so unlike eating spinach or kale, you don’t get a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in every leaf.
Still, if you know me, you know I talk all of the time about the importance of hydration, so there’s no issue with getting lots of water in your salad. Plus, there are some nutrients in those pale, crunchy leaves. A cup of iceberg has almost a gram of fiber and small amounts of vitamin A, folate, and potassium.
The Bottom Line
If possible, eat a variety of super dark leafy greens. But don’t worry about avoiding iceberg lettuce. If it is in or on something you’re eating, it’s only ever going to add a little water and a few nutrients, it for certain won’t take away from the healthfulness.
Also, if you’re just getting into healthy eating and don’t love the taste or texture of greens like Romaine or arugula, you can sprinkle them in with your usual iceberg lettuce to get used to the flavor while gradually adding nutrients.