Lettuce is one of those vegetables that should be eaten almost daily: it provides abundant vitamins and small doses of minerals that enrich the diet without contributing only calories. In salads is the queen and combines almost everything.
The lettuce is the protagonist of the lightest and simplest recipe dish: the salad. So much so that when we refer to a salad, actually a mixture of vegetables, the only ingredient that is usually given as safe is this.
Another thing is what type of lettuce will be or what ingredients will accompany it … In any case it is one of the most used vegetables in the daily diet, which we know rather little.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) belongs to the family of asteraceae and has been cultivated for more than two thousand years. Apparently the Romans and even the Greeks already appreciated their virtues and their taste.
The Arabs in the eleventh century had treaties explaining how to plant lettuce, and Isabel de Farnesio, married to Felipe V, used stuffed as a garrison at their banquets.
It seems that it was cultivated for the first time in India, but this is a controversial issue. In any case today it is cultivated in most countries of temperate climate, because it resists better the high temperatures than the low ones.
It contributes only 18 calories per 100 g of edible part and contains: water (94%), cellulose (0.6%), carbohydrates (3%), lipids (0.2%) and protids (1%).
It is well stocked with minerals, especially potassium (264 mg / 100 g), calcium (35 mg), phosphorus (26 mg) and magnesium (16 mg), as well as trace elements (copper, manganese, nickel, zinc, etc.)
It is also rich in vitamins: A (970 mcg, in the form of carotenoids), B group (its content in folic acid is 21 mg), C (8 mg) and E (0.06 mg).
Another substance of interest is lactucarium, a substance that acts as a sedative on the nervous system, which gives the lettuce relaxing and sleep-promoting properties. In addition, it has satiating power.
Health benefits of lettuce
Of the lettuce it has been said that it calms down, that it goes well for the sight, the insomnia and the retention of liquids, and even that it influences the libido. Leonardo Da Vinci himself talked about her and her health convenience. Not all the effects attributed to it are proven, but it has, without doubt, a remarkable nutritional value and contains substances of alkaloid type that give it a certain sedative effect.
–Lettuce is a food that is alkalizing, refreshing, remineralizing.
-It has hypnotic qualities, that help to conciliate the dream, and also analgesic in front of the pain.
-It has soothing properties on nervous excitement.
-It has an aperitive action, stimulating the digestive glands, as well as a mild laxative activity due to its fiber content. Because it drains the liver, it exerts a general depurative action of the organism.
-It also has hypoglycemic properties (reduces blood sugar), which makes it advisable for diabetics.
-As it is rich in beta-carotene, it contributes to the prevention of cancer, especially of the colon and lung.
The lettuce in the kitchen
We currently find lettuce throughout the year, but its optimal time begins in the spring and in some varieties it lasts all summer.
Although in our country we take it basically raw, it can also be used to make creams and soups. Even sautéed or boiled is tasty. The advantage of eating it raw is that without cooking it preserves its nutritional properties better.
The lettuce displays its virtues in a thousand and one salads. It can also be used as an ingredient in sandwiches, pitas, crêpes or burritos.
It also gives a lot of game to make vegetable creams, tortillas, sautéed, sautéed and some varieties, such as small and cozy, can be cooked whole grilled, steamed or braised.
Its leaves can be filled with rice, meat or fish, simply by scaling or frying the whole leaves.
How to make good use of your nutrients
Although the nutritional contribution of the lettuce is considerable, it does not always arrive intact at the table. Keep in mind the following points is essential if you want to make the most of it:
Buy lettuces in good condition. Lettuce with spots, with broken leaves or that are in boxes that are too full, may not have the proper quality.
Choose them in season. There are lettuces all year round, but their season starts in the spring. Prepared salad sachets are a good choice, although they do not have the same value as fresh lettuce.
Keep it well. Lettuce should be stored in a cool, moist place, protected from light and air. In the refrigerator it is advisable to leave it in the vegetable drawer. It is not necessary to join it with apples or pears, because it is altered before. Nor should it freeze.
Avoid prolonged soaking, as much of its minerals and vitamins are lost in water.
Take advantage of the greenest leaves.
Do not cut it too much.
Prepare it shortly before eating.
Season it with lemon juice or vinegar. Citric acid and acetic acid have a preservative power that preserves vitamins.
When the fresh lettuce is consumed it is necessary to use light dressings for the varieties of tender leaves, like the French one, very soft; iceberg, very refreshing and crunchy and more consistent dressings for lettuces with more fleshy and curly leaves, such as Tudela buds, lollo rosso or oak leaf, roman, marigold or batavia, and seasoning just before Serve them on the table so they do not lose their freshness.
Purchase and conservation
The lettuce is present all year round in the markets, which allows it to be fresh. Spring and summer lettuces tend to be richer in nutrients than those of autumn and winter, due to a greater solar influx.
It is advisable to choose darker shades, since they are more nutritious. Since lettuce has a high content of water, it is usually very perishable, so it is best to buy it just before consumption and in quantities that do not mean you have to store it for more than a week, which is the maximum that is usually kept in the refrigerator.
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