The summer’s heat often leaves us with not much of an appetite, the need for more liquids, and reduced vitamins and minerals in our bodies because they are released in our sweat. Summer also brings us many varieties of lettuce, the perfect antidote to the above summer conditions.
Lettuce has been grown for thousands of years by many ancient peoples. It is considered a medicinal food by many cultures, and for good reason. Here are the main health benefits of lettuce:
Lettuce is a great solution to a reduced appetite because it does not sit heavy in your tummy and you can eat a full plate without feeling stuffed. This is also great for those that want to lose some weight, too. The calories in a full plate of salad is a fraction of the calories in a hamburger or small piece of steak.
The reason lettuce does not sit heavy is because it is mainly made up of water (approximately 95 per cent), exactly what your body needs in the summer heat. A great rule of thumb for those who are watching their weight is to drink a glass of water when you begin to feel hungry. You may find out you are actually only thirsty. The next rule of thumb is to eat some high water content vegetables, lettuce being number one.
Lettuce is a great anti-inflammatory. If you suffer from arthritis or any sore joints, lettuce will help to alleviate the swelling to allow healing. A body cannot heal in an inflamed state. The first step to healing is to reduce the swelling.
Lettuce helps to keep your brain healthy by helping to preserve the neurons that make up memory. This also helps to ward off Alzheimer’s. Eat your lettuce to keep your memory!
If you have trouble sleeping, try a big plate of salad a couple hours before bed. Lettuce helps you sleep, as it acts as a sedative – a healthy one. It helps to decrease your heart rate and slows blood flow, which makes you feel more relaxed and calm.
Remember we mentioned that when you sweat you release vitamins and minerals? Lettuce is chock full of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. It also has high levels of manganese, potassium, iron, and calcium. Help keep summer colds away by eating lots of lettuce!
Lettuce is full of antioxidants – particularly the ones that fight certain types of cancer: leukemia and breast cancer. Lack of sunlight, and therefore, vitamin D, have been linked to higher rates of leukemia. Also, lack of darkness at night has been linked to higher levels of breast cancer. We experience more of both living in a Northern climate. Lettuce will help fight these kinds of cancers.
Finally, lettuce helps us feel happier! It is known to help reduce anxiety and also yeast infections. If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, you’ll never want to have it again. Eat lots of lettuce and you will feel happier, more energetic and not so sluggish!
Come, let us eat lettuce…a food of the gods. Live well, eat well and love well.
Angela Sladen is a nutritionist and member of the Tahltan First Nation in northern B.C.