Before you make your next salad, ask yourself is there a difference between “head” lettuce and iceberg lettuce? Are they the same thing?
The Short Answer:
Yes, iceberg lettuce is a variety of head lettuce.
The Long Answer:
There are five basic types of lettuce in the United States. An agricultural report back in 1885 listed 87 different lettuce varieties but we’ve paired that down significantly in the last 134 years. The four varieties are butterhead, iceberg, loose leaf, romaine, and stem lettuce.
You’ll notice that nowhere on that list was “head lettuce” listed. A lot of people seem to be under the mistaken assumption that head lettuce is an actual variety of lettuce. That’s not true at all. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines head lettuce as “Any of various cultivated lettuces that constitute a distinct variety and are distinguished by leaves arranged in a dense rosette which ultimately develops into a compact head suggesting that of a cabbage.”
The term can be used to describe any kind of lettuce that forms what we call a “head.” If you’ve ever looked at iceberg lettuce in the vegetable section of your local supermarket, you can tell that it is head lettuce. So, while not all head lettuce is iceberg lettuce, all iceberg lettuce is head lettuce.
Iceberg lettuce gets a bad rap in the veggie world. I’ve heard some people say that it has no nutritional value and that you’d be better off eating cardboard. While it’s true that varieties of lettuce like romaine are better for you (unless there’s another recall) that doesn’t mean iceberg lettuce is bad for you.
For starters, a medium-sized head of iceberg lettuce contains only 75 calories. This can be a great help when dieting. There is also a considerable amount of folate found within its leaves which is a mineral that helps fight against prenatal conditions and birth defects. It also contains vitamins A and C though it has the lowest content of these vitamins among all vegetable varieties.
So, if someone instructs you to get head lettuce make sure they’re clarifying what they mean as that term can be broad.
What’s your favorite kind of lettuce? Do you like iceberg lettuce despite its lack of nutritional content? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!
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