Lettuce, scientifically known as Lactuca sativa, was first cultivated by the Egyptians thousands of years ago. The Egyptians used the seeds to produce oil and also utilized the leaves of this useful vegetable. The plant also had cultural and religious significance in ancient Egypt, as it was considered to be sacred. Later, the Greeks and Romans also cultivated this crop.
Lettuce Nutrition Facts
Lettuce contains moisture, energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sugars. The minerals and vitamins found in includes calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc along with Vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, C, A, E and Vitamin K.
Health Benefits of Lettuce
For thousands of years, this leaf has been cultivated as more than a vegetable. It was also thought to possess medicinal properties by ancient people. The health benefits that have been confirmed by modern scientific research include the following.
Lettuce possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help in controlling inflammation. In experimental models, lettuce extracts have shown significant controlling power over inflammation induced by biocatalysts like lipoxygenase and carrageenan.
Neurons are brain cells that form physical connections to make up memory. The death of neurons in particular connections or circuits can result in the loss of memory. In some extreme cases, significant neuronal death can result in the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s. The extracts from lettuce showed considerable control of neuron cell death due to its role in glucose/serum deprivation (GSD). The research also mentioned that lettuce has the potential to be used in neuroprotection as a common remedy for neurodegenerative diseases.
Lettuce can be beneficial in lowering high cholesterol levels that often lead to cardiovascular diseases and other dangerous conditions. High LDL cholesterol levels are harmful and can cause heart attack and stroke. A study was conducted on mice to test the impact of lettuce consumption on fat and cholesterol. The results indicated a significant reduction of cholesterol levels compared to mice that weren’t fed lettuce.
One of the major traditional uses of lettuce in Unani medicine was as a sleep inducer. Research into the extracts of lettuce resulted in the isolation of a depressant chemical.
Studies have shown that lettuce possesses antioxidants with significant free radical-scavenging capabilities. Antioxidants are a wide range of biochemical mostly found in our diet; they are also very necessary for human health. Antioxidants act as barriers to free radicals, which are produced during cellular metabolism. These free radicals attack healthy tissues, cells, and the DNA inside them. They can often cause healthy cells to mutate into cancer cells. The result is the development of various diseases. Antioxidants, on the other hand, counteract these free radicals and neutralize them before the free radical attacks take place.
The latex of lettuce possesses antimicrobial properties. Candida albicans and a number of other yeasts were completely deformed upon coming into contact with the latex from lettuce.
The neurological properties of lettuce have long been suggested and exploited during ancient times and the Middle Ages in medical treaties such as the Unani system. Detailed research in recent times has led to the conclusion that lettuce possesses anxiolytic properties.
Lettuce leaf extracts can control certain types of cancer. Research on human cancer cells, particularly leukemia cells and breast cancer cells, were controlled to a significant extent after being treated with lettuce extracts. The experiments also suggested that the weight ratio of human lettuce consumption required killing 50% of leukemia cells would be 3 kg.