Lettuce and Diabetes

Lettuce various types
Lettuce greens for sale at a farmers market. (Image: Christina-J-Hauri/iStock/Getty Images)

Dieters often eat plenty of lettuce because it fills you up and provides essential nutrients, such as folate and vitamins A and K, without providing a lot of calories. Likewise, other nonstarchy vegetables, including lettuce, can be a good choice for diabetics due to their low carbohydrate content and minimal effects on blood sugar levels.

Lettuce and Diabetes Risk

A study published in "Diabetes Care" in December 2004 found that people who ate more green, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, were less likely to develop type-2 diabetes than people who didn't eat these vegetables often. Legumes, dark yellow vegetables and fruits were also associated with a decreased risk for diabetes.

Lettuce and Blood Sugar

The glycemic index estimates the effect of a food on your blood sugar levels, with foods having a low score being less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels than those with a high score. Lettuce and most other nonstarchy vegetables have very low glycemic index scores, according to the American Diabetes Association, so you don't have to worry about them greatly increasing your blood sugar levels.

Lettuce Carbohydrate Content

A cup of lettuce only contains about 5 to 10 calories and 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates, depending on the type. When counting carbohydrates, one serving of vegetables is considered 5 grams of carbohydrates, which you wouldn't reach unless you ate more than 2 cups of lettuce. This is why the American Diabetes Association says you don't need to count the carbohydrates in nonstarchy vegetables like lettuce unless you eat more than 2 cups of raw vegetables or 1 cup of cooked.

Consumption Recommendations

The American Diabetes Association recommends diabetics eat at least three to five servings of nonstarchy vegetables each day. Choosing a type of lettuce that is darker in color, such as romaine or green leaf lettuce, is better than opting for a lighter-colored lettuce, such as iceberg, because these darker lettuces are higher in essential micronutrients.

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