Some of the health benefits of lettuce include lowering cholesterol levels, cancer control, protection of neurons, sleep induction, anxiety control, lowering inflammation, and providing a supply of antioxidants.
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.
The dried latex of lettuce was prescribed for inducing sleep, and was used as nasal drops, a sedative, an anti-spasmodic, and anodyne. During the medieval times and into the beginning of modern times, lettuce spread from Europe to North America. During the 19th century, it spread to other parts of the world as well, particularly to Asia, South America, Africa and Australia. Today, lettuce can be found in almost all parts of the world, from the Americas all the way to Siberia.
Nutritional Value of Lettuce:
Lettuce contains moisture, energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sugars. The minerals and vitamins found in lettuce include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc along with vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, C, A, E, and vitamin K.
Health Benefits of Lettuce:
For thousands of years, lettuce has been cultivated as more than a vegetable. It was also thought to possess medicinal properties by ancient people. Some of the health benefits that have been confirmed by modern scientific research include the following:
1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
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.
2. Antioxidant Properties:
Studies have shown that lettuce possesses antioxidants with significant free radical-scavenging capabilities. Antioxidants are a wide range of bio-chemicals that are 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.