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Lettuce Power

Lettuce Power

“Lettuce,” said Charles Dudley Warner, American author and pal of Mark Twain, “is like conversation. It must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling you barely notice the bitter in it.” And just like good conversation, lettuce can be rapid-fire or low-key when it comes to delivering its nutritional messages.

A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examined the polyphenol, flavonoid, vitamin and antioxidant activity of three types of lettuce -- one all green (Batavia), one semi-red (Marvel of Four Seasons) and one red (Oak Leaf). Turns out those leafy veggies deliver their healthy goodness at different speeds.

  • Green leaf lettuce has water-soluble antioxidants that act at slow and intermediate speeds.
  • Red-leaf’s compounds work at an intermediate and rapid pace.
  • Semi-red-leaf contains the full range of compounds that work at rapid, intermediate and slow speeds.

And they work together really well. If you eat a food that generates inflammation you want to counter that quickly with rapid-acting, fire-quenching nutrients. But you also want to ingest slower-acting antioxidants that continue to KO potentially harmful chemicals over the long haul. That’s why we love a tossed salad with a variety of greens that also includes veggies like avocado, tomatoes, carrots and a dressing made with a dash of EVOO, lemon juice and a touch of turmeric-rich mustard. As celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson says: “Salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a colorful kitchen-sink approach!” So color your plate with layers of flavors and super-nutritious varieties of lettuce!

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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