Iceberg lettuce contains just 10 calories per cup, making it seem like an asset to any diet plan. Iceberg lettuce offers little in the way of nutrition, however. While iceberg lettuce will not hurt your weight loss goals, seek out more nutritious, low-calorie foods to make up the bulk of your diet.
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Iceberg lettuce is low in calories, has no fat and contains just 2 g of carbohydrates. Weight loss plans often ask that you moderate your intake of one or all of these elements, so iceberg fits into most any plan. It provides 17.4 mcg of vitamin K, 21 mcg of folate and 102 mg of potassium. The lettuce provides just 1 g of fiber and only trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
Darker greens, such as spinach and romaine, provide just as few calories and no fat with a greater concentration of nutrition. Romaine lettuce, for example, provides over 4,000 international units of vitamin A and 11.3 mg of vitamin C. It offers over two times the amount of vitamin K and three times the amount of folate as iceberg. Spinach is also a source of vitamins A and C. One cup of raw spinach also provides more than 100 percent of the daily value for vitamin K, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Spinach is also a better source of folate, with 58 mcg, and provides .8 mg of iron.
Iceberg lettuce is 95 percent water, which contributes to your daily hydration needs. The water content can help you feel full, helping with weight loss. Spinach, romaine and other leafy greens, such as spring mix and arugula, also offer a high water content.
If you cannot stand the slightly stronger taste of darker greens, then iceberg is better than no greens at all. Consider mixing baby spinach, romaine or spring greens with some iceberg so you still get the crunch while benefitting from the darker greens’ nutrients. Remember, any salad is only healthy and weight loss-friendly if you minimize high-calorie ingredients. Iceberg lettuce may contain only 10 calories per cup, but add 2 tbsp. of ranch dressing, 1 oz. of cheddar cheese, 1 tbsp. bacon bits and sliced avocado and you have salad in excess of 400 calories.