Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Iceberg lettuce, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

No lettuce adds the same crispness to a salad, burger, or taco like iceberg lettuce. Although iceberg lettuce is popular, it's no secret that it's nutritional quality pales in comparison to some of the darker lettuce varieties. If you've wondered whether it's worth eating iceberg lettuce at all, the answer is yes. Iceberg has several beneficial qualities, including its high water content. Here are some of the reasons to rethink your opinion of iceberg.

Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (72g) of shredded lettuce.

  • Calories: 10
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 7.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 2.1g
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Sugars: 1.4g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs

Because iceberg lettuce has such a high water content, there are just 2.1 grams of carbohydrates in an entire one cup serving. About 0.9 grams come from fiber and 1.4 grams from natural sugar.

Fats

Iceberg lettuce by itself contains only a trace amount of fat. Of course, adding dressings or salad toppings starts to increase the fat content of your plate.

Protein

There are 0.6 grams of protein in a cup of shredded lettuce.

Vitamins and Minerals

Although not quite as high in vitamins and minerals as the darker leafy greens, iceberg lettuce has more to offer than it usually gets credit for. Iceberg lettuce is naturally low in sodium and does provide a small amount (about 1%) of the daily value for calcium, iron, and potassium. It also offers very small amounts of folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

Health Benefits

Don't underestimate the benefits of a hearty portion of iceberg lettuce. Here are some of the ways this well-liked veggie can promote good health.

Aids Healthy Weight Management

Iceberg lettuce is a volumetric food, meaning you can eat a large portion of it without racking up extra calories. Iceberg lettuce makes a great filler or base for higher-calorie foods, adding a satisfying crunch to meals.

Use iceberg lettuce in place of bread or tortillas to make tuna roll-ups and taco boats. By visually filling up your plate, iceberg lettuce can reduce the feelings of deprivation that can make weight loss efforts more difficult.

Supports Diabetes Management

Lettuce is a nonstarchy vegetable, which is one of the best food groups for managing diabetes. A cup of raw iceberg lettuce is considered one serving, and the American Diabetes Association recommends a minimum of 3–5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day.

The low carbohydrate content of iceberg lettuce makes it an ideal choice because it won't have any significant impact on blood sugar. Loading up on non-starchy veggies can help crowd out cravings for less healthy food choices.

Improves Hydration

Lettuce is over 90% water and iceberg lettuce has one of the higher counts among leafy greens. Staying hydrated isn't just about the water you drink, as you also absorb water through the fruits and vegetables you eat. Iceberg lettuce is a crisp, refreshing way to stay hydrated on a hot day. Add iceberg to your summertime menu for an added boost of hydration.

Promotes Heart Health

Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables is a cornerstone of heart-healthy eating. Although iceberg lettuce isn't as nutrient-dense as some of the darker greens, it still provides essential nutrients for heart health including folate, vitamin C, and potassium.

Iceberg lettuce is low in sodium, particularly when compared to more processed foods that it can stand in for (like wraps, crackers, or crunchy chips). Following a low-sodium eating plan that's made up whole foods helps keep blood pressure levels down, protecting your heart in the long term.

Allergies

Most lettuce allergies are characterized as lipid transfer protein sensitization (LPS). In those with LPS, lettuce can produce severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. This condition involves sensitivities to a variety of plant foods and pollens, as opposed to just an allergy to lettuce alone.

Commonly co-existing allergens include peach, mugwort, and tree nuts. If you suspect an allergy to lettuce, see an allergist for formal testing and evaluation.

Adverse Effects

Iceberg lettuce is unlikely to affect any medications because it does not provide a concentrated source of nutrients, especially when eaten raw. The only potential negative side effect of eating too much iceberg lettuce in a short period of time is temporary digestive discomfort.

Varieties

Iceberg lettuce is also called crisphead. There are several varieties of iceberg including Great Lakes, Crispino, Ithaca, Keeper, Raider, and Maverick.

When It's Best

When shopping for iceberg lettuce in the produce department, look for heads of iceberg that appear fresh, with leaves that are green and crisp-looking—not brown or limp. Iceberg leaves should be tightly wrapped to form a solid, round shape. Avoid lettuce that looks slimy or past its prime.

Storage and Food Safety

Don't rinse or chop lettuce until you're ready to use it because the delicate outer leaves tend to oxidize and turn brown quickly. Whole heads of iceberg lettuce should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 2 weeks.

While you can purchase whole heads, pre-washed and shredded iceberg lettuce is also sold in plastic bags, often combined with carrots or other types of greens. If a bag of lettuce states on the label that it's been prewashed, you don't need to wash it again before using it. Otherwise, rinse lettuce under running water and pat dry before eating. A prepped bag of lettuce will last for a few days in the refrigerator, but once opened, you'll want to use it up quickly.

How to Prepare

There's a simple trick to removing the core of iceberg lettuce that holds the leaves together. Simply hold the head of lettuce 6–8 inches above the kitchen countertop and slam it down core-first.

This loosens the leaves, allowing you to grab the core with one hand and twist it out. Next, separate and rinse the leaves under running water before drying.

Probably the best-known salad made with iceberg lettuce is the wedge salad, which features a quarter of a head of iceberg topped with blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon. Although tasty, there are ways to boost the nutritional content of your salad by sprinkling on crunchy seeds, nuts, or adding extra veggies.

Since iceberg lettuce is all crunch and little flavor, it's easy to incorporate into salads with other greens and vegetables. Try this pear, grape, and feta salad. Make iceberg lettuce the base for a lightly dressed main course salad loaded with fresh veggies and lean protein.

You can also use iceberg lettuce as an alternative to buns and wraps by packing it with sandwich ingredients or even a burger. Experiment with iceberg to help lighten up some of your favorite meals.

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Article Sources
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