Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nutritonal Value of Lettuce and Pickles

Q: Is it true there is little to no nutritional value in some vegetables such as lettuce or pickles?

When it comes to lettuce, a little color goes a long way. It is true that iceberg lettuce is pretty low on the totem pole regarding nutrients. Let’s compare a cup of shredded iceberg lettuce to, say, 1 cup of spinach and see which one stacks up better:

Iceberg lettuce: 10 calories, 7% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A, 3% DV for vitamin C, 2% DV for iron, 1% for calcium.
Spinach: 7 calories, 56% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A, 14% DV for vitamin C, 5% DV iron, 3% calcium.

So you can see, spinach gives you a much greater nutrient bang for your calorie buck. This is what good nutrition choices are all about: filling your daily calorie quota with the most nutrient-dense foods.

The beauty of pickles is in regard to weight control because they are very tasty and very low in calories. However, they do pack a sky-high sodium count. One large dill pickle, for example, contains a mere 16 calories and zero fat and cholesterol BUT unfortunately will also give you half of your day’s sodium allowance (a whopping 1,181 mg) in just a few bites. According to a recent report form the World Health Organization, there is strong evidence of a link between excessive sodium intake and the development of chronic disease (especially high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.). The report recommends that governments around the world institute guidelines to reduce sodium consumption to 2,000 mg per day, or about half of what the typical American consumes.

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