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Popular Salad Greens — Do They Have Any Nutritional Value?

nutritional value of salad greens
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

You’re trying to get healthy, incorporating more salads into your life. Wondering if those greens and lettuces contain any nutrients worth mentioning? Let us break down some of the most popular salad stars for you.

1. Iceberg Lettuce
This lettuce has really gotten a bad wrap over the last few years. So does it have any nutrition at all?

Here’s the good news—like all greens, it’s low in fat, has a bit of fiber, and a little bit of protein. How much? Two cups of iceberg lettuce has 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber—nothing to write home about, but certainly not nothing. The bad news is that while it does contain some folate, vitamin C, and other vitamins, it doesn’t contain much. However, those 2 cups of lettuce pack in 30% of your needed vitamin K for the day. While this wouldn’t be our first choice for your salad base, it’s better than no salad at all.

2. Romaine Lettuce
Now we’re getting somewhere—romaine packs a punch much greater than iceberg. A two cup serving has 2 grams of fiber, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals: almost double the daily recommended value of vitamin K, 30% of your daily vitamin A, and 25% daily recommended folate!

3. Butter Lettuce
Same protein and fiber profile as iceberg, but more impressive vitamin and mineral profile—100% daily vitamin K, about 30% vitamin A, and 20% of folate, with smaller amounts of potassium, copper, phosphorous, and magnesium. Not quite as impressive as romaine, but better than iceberg for sure.

4. Arugula
Also called “Rocket” outside of the United States, this spicy guy has 50% of your daily vitamin K, 10% of your daily folate, and about 5% of your daily calcium, which isn’t insignificant. Arugula also contains small amounts of copper, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Definitely a good green, though surprisingly, not as packed with nutrients as romaine, and the same fiber and protein as iceberg.

5. Kale
The recently proclaimed superhero of salad. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Actually yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. Two cups of kale has 6 grams of protein, that’s about 10% of what you need in a day! That same serving is also bursting with 3 grams of fiber, 20% of your calcium needs, nearly 100% of your vitamin A, over 150% of your vitamin C! Wow!

And that’s not all—two cups has 9x the vitamin K you need in a day (don’t worry, you’ll pee out what your body doesn’t need), a lot of copper, phosphorous, and magnesium.

There you have it—kale really is worth all the hype. But don’t forget about your other greens, they all provide some nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. So, mix it up!

Nutritional Value of Salad Greens – Sources
Usda.gov

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