By Carly Scaduto
Monsanto Vegetables Division
With National Salad Month in full swing, it’s time to explore the most important part of any salad – the leafy greens. Rich in fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamins C and K, it’s no wonder fresh lettuce is the key to a hearty salad.
Lettuce offers many nutritional benefits and is full of flavor, without any calorie-induced guilt. In fact, leafy greens are credited with lowering the risk of heart disease, improving bone health and aiding the digestive system.
The most common leafy green varieties are iceberg, romaine and spinach. While all varieties offer a host of health benefits, there are a few key differences.
Iceberg lettuce is used regularly by restaurants because it stays fresh longer than other greens. It pairs well with meats and other vegetables – such as in a taco salad. Check out a few delicious iceberg lettuce-infused recipes here.
Meanwhile, romaine lettuce is known for its leafier texture and increased vitamin content compared to iceberg lettuce. Romaine lettuce is great for Caesar salads and also pairs well with fruit. You’ll find some yummy romaine lettuce recipes here.
Spinach leaves are rich in vitamin K, which helps prevent tooth decay and osteoporosis, while also aiding long-term brain function. Spinach can also be sautéed and used as a tasty addition to other dishes, too. These spinach recipes help even the finickiest of eaters navigate pairing this robust green with fruits, meats and dressings.
And then, there’s Frescada – a cross between iceberg and romaine lettuce that offers the best of each variety. Through traditional breeding, we combined the sweet taste and crisp texture of iceberg with the deep green color and nutritional benefits of romaine.
Frescada is packed with 146 percent more folate (also known as vitamin B9) and 74 percent more vitamin C than ordinary lettuce. This long-lasting variety also helps consumers reduce waste, as it is cored and trimmed in the package.
The next time you prepare a salad, we hope you’ll pay close attention to the often-overlooked leafy greens that complement other veggies, fruits and proteins – and feel good about eating a nutritious meal.