Learning to Love Leaf Lettuce
When Mom becomes a nutrition columnist, it doesn't necessarily follow that the whole family will fall into lockstep with her new ideas about healthful eating.
My husband, daughter (age 15) and son (12) have been very open-minded about my efforts to make our home diet more nutritious, and it's been fun to see them learn about the benefits of whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. We've also enjoyed working together on my little cooking projects, from crock-pot yogurt and nut butters to mayonnaise. But we've run into a few sticking points along the way, areas in which they simply don't care to give up old favorites when I offer a more-healthful option.
Iceberg lettuce is one of those favorite foods. It doesn't matter how often I tell them that leaf-lettuce contains way more nutrients than does iceberg and that its more vibrant colors suggest the presence of antioxidants, substances that, as I note in today's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, may or may not be what makes fruits and vegetables so good at fighting heart disease and otherwise keeping us healthy. When I make a tossed salad or a BLT, they want iceberg lettuce, not romaine.
The odd thing is that they otherwise love fruits and vegetables. They even warmly embrace spinach, either cooked or in a big ol' spinach salad, something we pair with a grilled meat and some brown rice about once every other week. (Sadly, they do draw the line at kale.)
I'm not one for disguising foods and sneaking them into meals, but I have found myself making tuna wraps with leaf lettuce instead of iceberg, thus building an extra dose of vitamins and minerals into the sandwich. And with good reason; here's how the two lettuces measure up:
A cup of iceberg lettuce, at 10 calories, has just a gram of fiber, plus 3 percent of the government-recommended daily value (DV) of Vitamin C, 7 percent of the DV for Vitamin A, 22 percent of the DV for Vitamin K, 1 percent of the DV for calcium, 2 percent of the DV for iron and 5 percent of the DV for folate.
A cup of romaine, at 8 calories, also has a single gram of fiber. But it provides 19 percent of the DV for Vitamin C, a whopping 82 percent of the DV for Vitamin A, and 60 percent of the DV for Vitamin K, plus 2 percent of the DV for calcium, 3 percent of the DV for iron and 16 percent of the DV for folate.
No matter. The family likes the crunch and comfort of iceberg. I'll keep trying to change their minds, I suppose. But maybe not: In the grand scheme of things, I suppose they're doing fine.
How about you? What culinary compromises do you make between optimal nutrition and accommodating family favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to take today's poll!
Results of a recent poll: 1,234 of you shared your opinion about inspecting your own stool. Only 1 percent thought that was gross; 2 percent said you weren't a big enough hypochondriac enough to, er, stoop that low. While 37 percent of you allowed as how it's hard NOT to look, fully 59 percent said of course you check your stool, as it's a reliable way to keep tabs on your health.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
June 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness
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