Is Iceberg Lettuce Good for You? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say
There is nothing quite like biting into a crispy, refreshing leaf iceberg lettuce. Whether you enjoy this veggie along with a thick slice of tomato in a sandwich or as a main ingredient in a salad, many people love this lettuce because it's economical, readily available and goes well with many ingredients.
Iceberg lettuce grows in a similar way as cabbage and it is made up of pale green edible leaves. Iceberg's taste is on the milder side when compared with other lettuce varieties, making it the preferred lettuce of younger people and those who don't care for more powerful and bitter tastes. And the crispy crunch it gives to recipes, like a classic wedge or cobb salad just can't be beat! Plus, the large leaves make it the ideal lettuce "wrap".
But one question seems to constantly be up for debate when it comes to iceberg lettuce—is iceberg lettuce good for you, or should it be swapped out for a different variety of lettuce when following a healthy lifestyle?
Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition
The internet is notorious for spreading rumors. And one unfortunate suggestion floating around is that iceberg lettuce contains zero nutritional value and that it's not part of a healthy diet.
It's true that ounce for ounce, there are other lettuce varieties that contain more nutritional benefits than iceberg, But that does not mean that iceberg has no redeeming qualities when it comes to supporting our overall health.
Here are the iceberg lettuce nutrition facts for 1 cup chopped lettuce:
- 9 calories
- 0.5 grams protein
- 0 grams fat
- 2 grams carbohydrates
- 1 grams fiber
- 10 milligrams calcium
- 80 milligrams potassium
- 286 IU vitamin A
One of the main iceberg lettuce benefits is, like most veggies, iceberg lettuce is a natural source of fiber, a nutrient that helps support healthy bowel movements and helps keep us feeling satisfied. While on the lower end, at just 1 gram of fiber per serving, every little bit counts. And chances are you're enjoying more than 1 cup of iceberg lettuce at a time (and if not, this is your sign to make yourself a big salad).
Iceberg lettuce also has a lot to offer when considering the roster of vitamins and minerals it contains. From immune-supporting vitamin A to bone health-supporting magnesium and calcium, it would be a stretch to claim that this lettuce is nutrient-free, as some folks on the internet claim.
And since iceberg lettuce is incredibly low in calories (iceberg lettuce calories clocks in at only 9 calories per cup of chopped lettuce), it's a fantastic food for those who are managing their weight. There are carbs in iceberg lettuce, but the amount is extremely low relative to many other food options out there.
So, Is Iceberg Lettuce Healthy?
Most Americans are not meeting the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables, with only 1 in 10 actually eating the suggested amount. This is concerning for a slew of reasons, as eating more produce is linked to a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and even experiencing early death.
If you are wondering the difference between iceberg lettuce vs. romaine, know that while romaine does contain comparable amounts of calories, carbs and protein, it does offer up more of certain micronutrients, including folate and vitamins A and K.
Like all lettuces, Iceberg is absolutely a good-for-you choice. It's low in calories, cholesterol-free, extremely low in sodium, and it provides important vitamins and minerals that support our overall health.
It is time to stop hating on the humble iceberg lettuce leaves. Certainly, choosing darker leaves of lettuce—think romaine and arugula—will give you even more bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition, thanks to the greater nutritional value that they boast. But especially if you are not a lettuce lover or if you don't have access to other varieties, leaning on iceberg lettuce can be a great way to meet your veggie quota for the day, while enjoying a mild-tasting and refreshing choice.