Crisp romaine lettuce is a highly nutritious leafy green to use in a green smoothie. It has a mild flavor that is easily masked by fruit so it’s perfect if you’re new to green smoothies or making it for picky eaters.
You can add an entire head of lettuce to a fruit smoothie and not impact the taste at all. I typically toss in an entire head of romaine in my morning smoothie. It provides 106 calories and gives me a super jolt of nutrition first thing in the morning.
Here are some surprising nutrition facts about this wonderful smoothie (and salad) green:
1 – Protein. Believe it or not, romaine lettuce is 17% protein with 7.7 grams per head. It is also contains all 9 essential amino acids, 9% RDA of some and up to 26% RDA of others.
2 – Calcium. One head of romaine has 206 milligrams (mg) of calcium (about 21% RDA). Blend it with calcium rich fruits like papaya and oranges and you’ll get more calcium than a glass of milk!
3 – Omega-3s. One head of romaine lettuce contains 44% RDA of Omega-3 essential fats. Forget the tainted fish oils, reach for some leafy greens instead!
4 – More Vitamin A Than An Carrot. One head of romaine contains 182% RDA of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) while a large carrot contains only 40%.
5 – Iron. One head of romaine contains 6mg of iron, which ads a significant source of iron to the diets of vegetarians and vegans.
6 – Romaine Lettuce is Rich in B-vitamins: Thiamine (B1) – 38% RDA, Riboflavin (B2) – 32% RDA, Niacin (B3) – 12% RDA, Pantothenic Acid (B5) – 18%, Pyridoxine (B6) – 36 %, Folate (B9) – 213%!
7 – Water. One head of romaine provides 16% of your daily water needs with about 20 ounces of water per head!
8 – Rich Source of vitamin K. As with most leafy greens, romaine is super rich vitamin K with 535% RDA in one head.
9 – Low Levels of Oxalic Acid. If you have problems with calcium oxalate kidney stones, romaine lettuce might be a good choice for leafy greens since it is very low in this anti-nutrient.
10 – Mineral-Rich. Don’t let the lighter color of romaine lettuce fool you. This not-so-dark leafy green is rich in minerals. One head contains copper (33% RDA), magnesium (22% RDA), manganese (42% RDA), phosphorus (27% RDA), potassium (33%), selenium (5% RDA) and zinc (13% RDA).
How To Select And Store Romaine Lettuce
Choose bright, crisp heads of romaine lettuce. Avoid bunches that have rust, holes or that are limp, wilted or yellowing. It is common to find romaine that has slight browning along the very edges of the outer leaves. This is okay as long as the rest of the head looks fresh and green. I just trim the brown edges off the outer leaves.
Romaine is highly perishable. I store it in the fridge in a large plastic tub with a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture and condensation. My lettuce will keep for up to 5 days this way. If you store wet lettuce in a produce bag, it will likely only last a couple days.
Whenever possible, choose organic romaine (sames goes for any leafy green) as greens are often high in pesticide residue.
How To Use Romaine In A Green Smoothie
I use the entire head, including outer leaves. Wash each leaf and then add to your smoothie. I recommend that you add the fruit and blend it first, then add the lettuce so that it blends easily.
Because of its delicate flavor, lettuce is easily masked by just about any fruit you can think of. My usual recipe calls for 2-3 bananas, 1 mango, 1 tablespoon of flax, a few frozen strawberries (or 1/2 cup frozen blueberries) and an entire head of romaine. Now THAT is the breakfast of champions!
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Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.