Pregnant? You’d be on the the hunt of healthy food! Think healthy and the first thing that comes to your mind is salads. Easy, crunchy and enviably healthy, salads are the in-thing in the modern times. But a salad feels incomplete if there is no lettuce in it, even though the likes of kale have taken to the limelight. Lettuce is a cool weather, green leafy vegetable commonly used in salads. It is a source of minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber. Vitamins and minerals are contributed by green leafy parts, whereas the ribs and the spine are rich in dietary fiber.
- Types Of Lettuce
- What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Lettuce During Pregnancy?
- How To Choose The Right Lettuce?
- Risks And Precautions When Having Lettuce During Pregnancy
Types Of Lettuce
There are four basic types of lettuce.
- Butter head
- Green leaf
Of the above types, Romaine has the highest nutritional value, whereas iceberg has the lowest.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Lettuce During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, intake of essential nutrients is very important for both the mother and the fetus. Lettuce provides a host of nutritional benefits such as:
- Fiber: Fiber helps in preventing constipation, which is a frequent complaint during pregnancy period. Lettuce is a very good source of dietary fibers. One serve of lettuce provides 5% of the daily suggested fiber
- Vitamin K: Lettuce is a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K from mother’s body passes through the placenta to the child. Therefore, eating lettuce during pregnancy will directly benefit the child. Vitamin K also helps in blood clotting, thereby, reducing the chances of hemorrhage during delivery
- Folic Acid: Adding lettuce to your diet provides you 19% of daily recommended folic acid. Taking folic acid during pregnancy helps to protect the unborn baby from birth defects such as cleft palate and also from birth defects of the brain (anencephaly) and the spinal cord (spina bifida). It also helps to prevent anemia during early stages of pregnancy. Read more on folic acid during pregnancy here
- Vitamin A: One cup of green lettuce provides 19% of daily needed vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in embryonic growth (development of circulatory, respiratory and central nervous systems) of your baby
- Calcium: One serve of Romaine Lettuce provides 3% of daily requirement of calcium. If your intake of calcium lessens during pregnancy, your baby (in need of calcium for proper development of bones and teeth) draw it from your bones which will affect your health badly in the near future
- Potassium: Lack of potassium may cause leg cramps during pregnancy. It is also an important factor to maintain electrolyte balance during pregnancy. Lettuce provides 8% of the daily requirement of potassium
- Iron: One serve of lettuce has 5% of the iron required each day. You need more iron during your pregnancy time, especially during your second and third trimester, because blood production of your body increases up to 50% thus more hemoglobin is produced, increasing the demand of iron
- B-complex group of vitamins: Lettuce is rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as riboflavin (also called vitamin B2), thiamine (also called vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (also known as vitamin B6), each around 7% of the daily requirement. Thiamine plays a vital role in brain development, bone development and muscle development in babies. Riboflavin helps in the development of a skin. Pyridoxine helps to control morning sickness and also plays an important part in brain development
How To Choose The Right Lettuce?
There is an easy technique to remember while choosing lettuce- darker the lettuce, the better. The color is a good pointer of nutrition. More color indicates more chlorophyll. Vitamin K is found in chlorophyll. Folic acid, which has an important role in preventing birth defects during pregnancy is also found more in darker lettuce. So, always choose dark colored lettuce such as Romaine over pale colored ones such as iceberg. Every time, select fresh and crispy leaves and avoid wilted leaves.
Risks And Precautions When Having Lettuce During Pregnancy
Eating lettuce-rich salads will benefit your health during the period of pregnancy. Before preparing lettuce a few things have to be considered, such as:
- Thoroughly wash lettuce: Intake of raw green salad, especially during the pregnancy period, may expose you to serious health risks. The presence of dirt and traces of pesticides can’t be ruled out. Separate each leaf and examine them carefully. Throw away crushed or wilted outer leaves. Soak the remaining leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes. You can also add bicarbonate of soda to the water, to be sure to remove the traces of pesticides. Rinse them thoroughly in running cold water
- Use cold water: Remember to use only cold water for cleaning procedure. Otherwise the crispiness which enhance the taste of salad could be lost
- Buy organic Lettuce: Fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals used for cultivation affect the nutritive value of lettuce. Using organic lettuce will help to reduce this risk factor
Remember, consumption of unwashed greens of any kind can expose pregnant women to a series of health hazards. Always consume a food item that is fresh, hygienic and in moderation.