With its tender, loose leaves, and sweet, delicate taste, butter lettuce has become a popular ingredient in salads and other dishes. While loved for its texture and flavor, this lettuce variety also packs an impressive nutritional profile. Understanding the calorie count and health benefits can help you make informed choices about incorporating it into your diet.
What is Butter Lettuce?
Butter lettuce, also called Bibb or Boston lettuce, belongs to the Lactuca sativa species. It features soft, bright green leaves that form a loosely packed head. Unlike other lettuces that can have a more assertive taste, butter lettuce is prized for its sweetness and mild flavor. When eaten raw, the leaves have a smooth, almost buttery texture that gives this variety its name.
Butter lettuce grows well in cool conditions. In the United States, most of the commercial Bibb lettuce comes from California, where the climate allows for year-round production. This lettuce pairs well with creamy or tangy dressings and brings balance to salads with more robust ingredients. Its delicate nature also makes it ideal for lettuce wraps.
Calorie and Macronutrient Profile
One of the appeals of butter lettuce is its low-calorie count. A 1-cup serving of shredded butter lettuce contains:
0.3 grams protein
0.2 grams fat
1.9 grams carbs
1 gram fiber
With only 10 calories per cup, butter lettuce provides important nutrients without adding significant calories. Making it a part of meals and salads allows you to increase your portion sizes and feeling of fullness without overdoing calories.
The macros in butter lettuce consist almost entirely of carbohydrates in the form of fiber and naturally occurring sugars. Since butter lettuce has minimal fat and protein, its calories come mainly from carbs. However, with only 2 grams of total carbs per cup, its carb content and impact on blood sugar levels remain low.
Vitamins and Minerals
Don’t let the low-calorie count fool you. Butter lettuce offers a spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals. Some of the key micronutrients found in 1 cup of shredded butter lettuce include:
- Vitamin K – 102mcg – 127% DV
- Vitamin A – 771iu – 15% DV
- Folate – 29mcg – 7% DV
- Potassium – 152mg – 4% DV
- Calcium – 36mg – 4% DV
- Vitamin C – 3.1mg – 4% DV
Butter lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A, two nutrients vital for proper blood clotting and healthy eyesight respectively. The folate, potassium, and calcium present all provide key benefits as well. Vitamin C functions as a powerful antioxidant to boost immune defense.
With its nutritious vitamin and mineral content, adding butter lettuce to your diet supports several aspects of overall health. Even better, you get all these nutrients with minimal calories and can eat bountiful portions.
Powerful Health Benefits
Along with its stellar nutritional profile, eating butter lettuce regularly provides some science-backed upsides for your health. Here are some of the top benefits of adding more Boston lettuce to your routine:
Supports Heart Health
With beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and folate, butter lettuce can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Potassium aids healthy blood pressure levels. Folate lowers homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease. Vitamin C improves artery flexibility and function.
Promotes Eye Health
Rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, butter lettuce helps guard against macular degeneration and cataracts. These nutrients protect the eyes against damaging free radicals and UV exposure.
Boosts Immune Function
Butter lettuce contains infection-fighting vitamin C along with ample vitamin A, a nutrient vital for proper immune responses. Adding butter lettuce to your routine helps shore up your immune defenses.
Builds Strong Bones
The calcium and vitamin K in Boston lettuce both support bone density and strength. Vitamin K boosts the absorption of calcium, while the calcium itself helps prevent bone loss over time.
With around 1 gram of fiber per cup, butter lettuce provides bulk that promotes regularity and healthy digestion. This insoluble fiber adds texture and helps move food through the gut.
Simple Ways to Enjoy Butter Lettuce
With its adaptable nature and mild flavor, Boston lettuce brings nutrients and crunch to a wide variety of dishes. Here are some delicious ways to use up this lettuce variety:
- Toss shredded butter lettuce into green salads for a nutrition boost. Pair it with crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, nuts, and a light dressing.
- Use butter lettuce leaves as edible wraps in place of tortillas or bread. Fill the leaves with hummus, grilled chicken, or curried egg salad for a fresh take on wraps.
- Add small torn pieces of Boston lettuce into soups. It will wilt down and add color, texture, and nutrients.
- Grill thick Boston lettuce wedges lightly to bring out a sweet, nutty flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Blend Boston lettuce with avocado, Greek yogurt, and fruit like mango or pineapple for a creamy, nutrient-dense salad.
The Takeaway on Calories and Nutrition
With its delicate, buttery leaves and mild taste, butter lettuce deserves a regular spot in any healthy diet. Though low in calories, it delivers a powerhouse serving of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Adding butter lettuce provides bulk and crunch to meals while packing a big nutritional punch.
Aim for at least 2 cups per week to reap the benefits of the vitamins K, A, C, potassium, folate, and calcium found in this lettuce variety. Watch your portions of any added dressings or oils to keep the calorie count low. At only 10 calories per cup, butter lettuce offers an easy way to round out your diet with extra nutrition without the extra calories.