What is the Nutritional Value of Iceberg Lettuce?

Kaiser Castro

A leafy green that is consumed by many people of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds, iceberg lettuce is commonly used in sandwiches, salads, and other food dishes. Though it is considered a low-calorie food, gram for gram, iceberg lettuce generally has fewer calories than other darker, leafy greens. A cup of diced lettuce has about 7 calories.

Iceberg lettuce is low in calories and high in nutrients.
Iceberg lettuce is low in calories and high in nutrients.

Iceberg lettuce is a viable source of vitamin A, also called retinol, which promotes healthy eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. The vitamin is known to specifically help the eyes focus in low-light settings. Regular consumption of iceberg lettuce has been noted to slow down the formation of cancerous tumors, with vitamin A inhibiting rogue DNA from forming cancerous cells.

The calcium in iceberg lettuce can be particularly useful to elderly people.
The calcium in iceberg lettuce can be particularly useful to elderly people.

Iron is another important nutrient found in iceberg lettuce, and can help to fortify the body’s cells with oxygen. As a key component to the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce, iron wards off anemia, a condition where the body has a low blood count. Low iron deficiency can potentially cause weakness and fatigue, so eating iceberg lettuce will help to replenish iron stores within the body.

Lettuce has a high water content, which helps make the stomach feel full.
Lettuce has a high water content, which helps make the stomach feel full.

Calcium, a mineral used to help with bone growth, is naturally found in iceberg lettuce. Adding to the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce, calcium can be beneficial for growing children, who are still in the developmental stage of their lives. Elderly people can also benefit from the calcium found in iceberg lettuce, with the mineral helping to ward off osteoporosis.

Potassium found in lettuce can help lower blood pressure.
Potassium found in lettuce can help lower blood pressure.

Potassium found in lettuce can help prevent stroke, lower blood pressure, facilitate muscle growth, and improve kidney and heart functions. This electrolyte contributes to healthy muscle contractions and to fluid balance within the body. The potassium adds to the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce and has been noted to improve nerve function as well.

Beta carotene, a type of phytonutrient most often associated with carrots, is another part of the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce. Commonly found in leafy greens, beta carotene improves the functions of the immune system. Consuming iceberg lettuce is beneficial for individuals who have compromised immune systems.

Due to its relatively low calorie count, iceberg lettuce can be a beneficial diet staple for any individual who is on a weight-loss program. Large amounts of the lettuce can be consumed, subsequently filling up the stomach and making the person feel full for long periods of time. Lettuce tends to be fibrous with a high water content, which lends to its ability to make the stomach feel full.

Iceberg lettuce is commonly found in salads.
Iceberg lettuce is commonly found in salads.

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Discussion Comments


I eat salads twice a day and turn orange with romaine. I don't turn orange with iceberg lettuce.


@KaBoom - I'm the opposite. I always buy iceberg lettuce! People are always telling me that it lacks nutritional value, but I just don't like the other kinds that much.

I'm relieved to learn that there is some nutritional value to iceberg lettuce after all. I'm especially interested in the fact that it's supposed to slow down the formation of cancerous tumors! That's pretty amazing. I think this lettuce definitely needs to be studied further. Maybe they can find a way to isolate whatever it is that slows the tumor growth and use it to treat cancer!


@bluespirit - It's funny you mentioned the ginger dressing, because Japanese restaurants are one of the only places I eat iceberg lettuce. When I was growing up my mom always told me it didn't have any nutritional value, so I never buy it. I usually try to buy a salad mix with leafy greens.

I think I might give iceberg lettuce another chance after reading this article though. I doubt I'll totally replace my leafy greens, but I may introduce iceberg lettuce into the kitchen rotation.


@speechie - I also take salads for lunch at least once a week. What I try to do is to change of the dressings and vegetables of course.

One of my favorite dressings that you can't find in the salad dressing section in the main aisles at the grocery (rather you can either find it in the Asian food section or the refrigerated salad dressing section) is ginger dressing like the kind you get at Japanese restaurants.

Its so tasty but it also tastes crisp and light. Besides that dressing I have to go for the Italian dressings with all the herbs floating in them - fantastic!


@jennythelib - My husband was one such person that thought that iceberg lettuce had little or no nutritional value.

For him, he had heard somewhere that the greener the lettuce the more nutrition. It seems after reading this article that if that is the case, then the greener varieties are super-foods if they are better than iceberg lettuce (as mentioned in @jennythelib's comment)

One of the reasons I feel that we were even having the discussion is because I take a salad to work almost every day (the people at work think I am crazy because I don't ever get tired of it), but I really feel great and full after a salad so for me its not just about taste but it is also about what it does for me.


I really don’t like the taste of iceberg lettuce, so it really doesn’t matter to me what the nutritional value of it is. I prefer hardier tasting leafy green vegetables like spinach.

I love the taste of spinach because it is richer, and I really like how it makes me feel afterwards. The only time that I eat iceberg lettuce is if it is on a cheeseburger.

I really don’t touch the stuff other than that. I read somewhere that the darker the vegetables the more nutrients it has, and I also think that it gives the vegetables a stronger taste as well.


I think one of the biggest reasons iceberg lettuce nutritional value is lower than other lettuce types is because it is made of mostly water. This is also why there are not very many calories in iceberg lettuce.

I like to use iceberg lettuce with a combination of other types of lettuce that are darker greens and have more nutritional value. Adding some spinach leaves to your iceberg lettuce is an easy way to do this.

I like to buy the lettuce that is already cut up and packaged to get a good variety of lettuce types. Even though the bag says it is already washed, I still like to wash my lettuce just to make sure.

This gives me the option of trying different types of lettuce without buying a whole head and find out I don't really like it.


I have always known that iceberg lettuce does not have as much nutritional value as other lettuce varieties, but it seems like this is the lettuce I use most often.

The biggest reason for this is because it seems to last much longer once I get it home. I live in the country and am not close to a grocery store where I stop 2-3 times a week.

It seems like every time I buy other kinds of lettuce they go bad after just a few days and I end up throwing it away.

Since the iceberg lettuce lasts longer than other types of lettuce, I figure I can make up for less nutrition in the toppings I put on my salad.


@jennythelib - I don't necessarily disagree with you; iceberg lettuce is certainly worth eating. But you admit yourself that the other greens are more nutritious.

If someone only like iceberg lettuce, I would encourage them to start branching out slowly into the darker, more flavorful, more nutritious grains. Start with maybe two thirds iceberg and one third romaine. Gradually up the romaine. Next, try some fresh spinach. Arugula will never be for everyone, but I think most people who like iceberg can develop a taste for at least leafy lettuces if they give themselves a chance.


Iceberg letter gets a bad rap because people think iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value. Not true!

Not, it's not as nutritious as the darker leafy greens, like spinach and arugula and even plain old romaine lettuce. But that doesn't mean it's not good for you!

The ratio of nutrition to calories is pretty favorable with iceberg. If it's your favorite lettuce, go for it, and don't let anyone give you a hard time.

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