Food

Lettuce – Intolerance & Allergy

Lettuce

In Austria, lettuce is also called chief lettuce and belongs to the group of garden lettuce (Lactuca sativa). The axis of the lettuce is compressed and the leaves form a head made up of several layers of leaves, reminiscent of rose heads. It has always been one of the most popular types of lettuce, but in recent years it has been pushed out of first place by other varieties.

Here’s what you should know about lettuce

Botanically speaking, lettuce is a one- to two-year-old plant. It has a long taproot with a leaf rosette. Later, branched inflorescences with yellow flowers are formed. The closed head is created by the strongly compressed shoot axis, on which the lettuce leaves that surround the stem are attached.

The outer leaves bend outwards, the shape is flattened. In most cases, the leaves have a greater width than length. The surface is wrinkled rather than smooth, but still feels soft and a bit oily. The usual coloring of lettuce is green, with the outer leaves being darker and more intense in color than the inner ones. They are usually light green to whitish. However, there are also types of lettuce that have red and yellow leaves. In the flowering period, the axis lengthens. Depending on the variety, the heads tend to remain closed in summer than others. Some bloom quickly.

It is believed that lettuce comes from wild lettuce (Lactuca serriola). This is a steppe plant found in the Near East and southern Europe. The lettuce has a long tradition and was already eaten in Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquity. It can be found in records from the time of Charlemagne from the 8th century. It was used in the Middle Ages under the name Lactuca, although the exact preparation is not known. The first illustrations can be found in herbal books from the 16th century. The first known comes from Joachim Camerarius. At the court of Louis XIV, lettuce was grown under cover because of the high demand.

At the end of the 19th century, Friedrich Alefeld described 44 types of lettuce, but not all of them are available in Germany today.

Lettuce is grown both outdoors and in greenhouses. It is therefore available all year round, although increased nitrate levels have been increasingly detected in the heads grown in greenhouses. This can impair the supply of oxygen to the organs. It is also said to be carcinogenic. For this reason, outdoor lettuce is recommended. This is available in Germany from May and can be found in supermarkets throughout the summer. In some countries, lettuce is also used as a vegetable. Because of its taste, it is also known as butter lettuce. Freshly harvested, it has a buttery consistency and a spicy taste.

importance to health

Lettuce is very low in calories and fat. For this reason, the salad is very popular with many. In addition, it has a fairly high fiber content .

On the other hand, the vitamin content is rather low. Most other types of lettuce have a higher proportion of various vitamins than lettuce. Nevertheless, it has a not insignificant amount of vitamin A , which has a positive effect on the skin and eyes. Contrary to popular belief, lettuce is not as healthy as is popularly claimed, but it is quite tasty when prepared appropriately.

Ingredients & nutritional values

100 grams of lettuce have around 14 calories. Lettuce is 96 percent water. In addition, 100 grams contain around 1.25 grams of protein, only 0.21 grams of fat and 0.5 grams of fiber. Also, the same amount of lettuce has 7 milligrams of sodium, 11 milligrams of magnesium , 26 milligrams of phosphorus , and another 10 times that of potassium . The amount of iron is around 1.8 milligrams and that of calcium around 35 milligrams.

Intolerances & allergies

In principle, intolerances or allergies to any food can occur. This is also the case with lettuce, although intolerances are rare here, which is also due to the high water content.

Shopping & kitchen tips

When buying lettuce, you should pay attention to whether the cut surface of the stalk still looks fresh or has discolored. If it is brown or even darker, the head has been lying for a while. Lettuce does not keep for long, so it should be eaten fairly quickly after purchasing it. It is very delicate and tends to rot and wither quickly. When harvesting, a sure instinct is required.Because of this, care should also be taken during storage. If you don’t plan to eat the lettuce the same day or the next, you can try spraying it with water and wrapping it in paper. It should keep for at least a few days in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.

To prepare lettuce, first remove the outer leaves, which may no longer appear fresh. These will be disposed of. Then the thick end of the stem is removed, after which the individual leaves can be detached from the stem. This happens gradually. If you prefer the firm, inner leaves, you can also discard the outer leaves – but the bright green leaves contain the most ingredients. The lettuce should always be washed.

Then it can be spun dry with a salad spinner, for example. Depending on the recipe, the leaves are torn or cut into small pieces. The light, small hearts of lettuce, which should be crisp, are particularly popular.

Preparation tips

The lettuce is mainly used for mixed or pure green salads. For centuries it was the first choice as an accompaniment to fish, meat or other dishes. It combines well with other types of lettuce and can also be mixed and served with tomatoes , cucumbers or radishes . Various dressings go well with lettuce. Yoghurt-herb dressings are suitable, but vinegar-oil is also often used. In parts of Germany, lettuce is served with a sweet sauce.

In cold dishes, the lettuce is also often used as a base or decoration. In restaurants, it upgrades the plate in combination with other types of lettuce. To this day, lettuce is still the first choice for sandwiches. The same applies to sandwiches, by the way. In addition, lettuce can also be cooked. An example of this is its use in pea soup. This method is rather unusual in Germany, but is used more frequently in other countries. It can also be used in Asian cuisine. For example, it can be used as a filling or wrapper for spring or rice paper rolls.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.