When we compare by nutrients per calorie, as shown in the second table,
we see that iceberg, while lower by most measures, is still in the
ballpark. It's hardly the lost cause it's been made out to be.
Iceberg actually leads in two areas: water and sodium. The reason it
appears so much lower when we compare by mass is that it's rich in
water, meaning that it's lower in calories and there's less room for
This has lead to it being deemed as worthless, but that's hardly the
a key nutrient
, and one of the reasons a raw food diet
works so well. Virtually every bodily function is dependent upon water.
Our need for it is so great that losing just one percent of total body
weight is considered mild dehydration. At just 5 percent water loss the
medical community considers our lives to be at risk. This is a big plus
in iceberg's favor.
Sodium is one of the key minerals responsible for the osmotic pressure
that allows the movement of fluids and nutrients through our cells'
semipermeable membranes. This is how the body mantains electrolyte
When cellular metabolic waste (which happens to be disolved in water -
fancy that) is carried out of the cell, its makes the ride hitched to
The Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition Myth: What It All Means
Think about the statements I've made above. All of them are factually
true, and you can double check by reading any college-level study of
the subject, yet I wouldn't suggest
you make a single change to your diet because of their validity.
It's possible to over hydrate, and people have died from drinking too
much water. Sodium is an equally tricky issue. Too much or too little
of it can screw up osmotic pressure. If you decide that more is better,
you might try adding table salt to your diet, but we all know
that's a proven path to ill health
What we have to recognize is that nutrition
. It is only
when we consider a food's complete
nutrient package that the discussion takes on any real meaning.
Go out and take a look at several dozen fruits and vegetables and
compare them by nutrients. You'll see that some are extremely rich in
one area while being weak in others. Fruits, as a general rule, rank
highest among all other foods in terms of vitamins; vegetables take the
crown for minerals. Cut out either and we would be lacking.
But I think there is an even more pressing reason not to rule out any
otherwise-healthy food just because you're not satisfied with its
nutrient count: Depending on which expert you ask, between 60 and 90
percent of all nutrients have yet to be discovered, meaning that if you
skip the iceberg, you have no idea what you're missing out on.
In addition, scientists have only the vaguest idea of how nutrients
even work in the body. When they find promising disease-fighting
nutrients in food
and extract them for use in isolation, they almost inevitably fail to
same effect. It's how the contents of
a food work together that's important, and we simply lack enough
information to be ruling out otherwise-healthy food
So forget about scores and eat a few heads of crunchy iceberg tonight.
Tomorrow? Go for bok choy. Follow up with a bunch of spinach on the
weekend, and some romaine on Monday.
The only thing that matters is that you eat as wide a variety of leafy
green vegetables as possible. The
nutrition will take care of itself.
Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition: Following Up