Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Iceberg Lettuce

A few years ago, a local station carried Dr. Gabe Mirkin's radio show. Sadly, he stopped doing his radio show -- it was so interesting and I learned a great deal about diet, heart disease and exercise. He is the doctor that takes care of Larry King, and he has a practice in the Washington, D.C. area. They now send out a weekly online newsletter ( It contains his facts, gives links to his radio show excerpts (also available online) and his wife, Diana's, amazing recipes. Their latest book "The Healthy Heart" is also full of facts and recipes. Today's email had the answer to the following question. I was interested, as I can get my daughter to eat iceberg lettuce, but my husband always says it has no nutritional value. I have always figured it was better than eating no lettuce, and it turns out to be true. Also a lettuce wedge with 1000 Island dressing is often a great change of pace!

Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is it true that iceberg lettuce is completely devoid of nutrition?

It's not devoid of nutrition, just a less concentrated source of nutrients that the darker green leaf lettuces, spinach and other leafy greens. Lighter colors in vegetables mean they contain more water and therefore fewer nutrients "per cubic inch." Here's a comparison of one cup of iceberg lettuce to romaine lettuce: The iceberg lettuce contains 11mg calcium, 11mg phosphorous, .3mg iron, 88mg potassium, 19RE vitamin A, and 2mg vitamin C; while the romaine lettuce has 20mg calcium, 25mg phosphorous, .6mg iron, 162mg potassium, 146RE vitamin A, and 13mg vitamin C. Both have 7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 1g fiber. So iceberg lettuce is a perfectly good food, but darker lettuces are even better.