What's the Best Leafy Vegetable For Your Salad?

What's the Best Leafy Vegetable For Your Salad?
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What's the Best Leafy Vegetable For Your Salad?

A diet rich in lettuce and other greens is always a good idea, but not all lettuces are created equal. Learn which varieties are the best and worst nutritionally.

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With its broad leaves, watery flavor and crunchy texture, iceberg lettuce ranks as one of the least nutritionally dense. One cup of shredded lettuce still provides about 3 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake and is a great source of water.

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Red-Tip Leaf

Red-tip leaf lettuce can be distinguished by its large "crumpled" leaves with red coloration. Red-tip leaf lettuce is a great source of vitamins A and K; one cup of shredded lettuce provides 42 percent and 29 percent of your daily recommendation, respectively.

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Green Leaf

The other type of leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, packs a bit more punch. A cup of shredded green leaf lettuce provides 53 percent of your daily vitamin A and 78 percent of your recommended vitamin K! Compared to red-tip leaf lettuce, it has more thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6.

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We love all kinds of butterhead lettuce from Boston to Bibb; its tender and slightly sweet leaves are wonderful in salads. It's particularly high in vitamin K (one cup of chopped butterhead lettuce provides 70 percent of your daily recommendation), and it's a great source of folate.

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Romaine's long leaves have a deep taste and crisp texture. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K and folate and a very good source of fiber and four minerals including potassium and iron. By the cup, it provides 36 percent more thiamin and more than 4.5 times the amount of folate than green leaf lettuce.

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Wild Chicory

Mildly bitter and perfect for pepping up salads, wild chicory is high in vitamins A, C and K and is an appetite stimulant. One cup of chopped chicory greens is high in fiber and more than a day's worth of vitamin K!

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One cup of this cabbage-like plant has 128 percent of your daily vitamin K! It is a great source of minerals like copper and potassium. Radicchio also contains antioxidants zea-xanthin and lutein that promote eye health.

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Rich in vitamins K, A and C and minerals like magnesium and potassium, chard provides a nutritional boost to your salads. A cup of chard contains nearly four times your daily recommended vitamin K! Plus, it contains carotenoids to keeps eyes healthy!

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Kale is everywhere these days and for pretty good reasons. A cup of kale contains a whopping 684 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, and it is is unusually high in antioxidants like beta carotene for eye health and cancer-fighting vitamin C. It contains detoxifying sulfur and fiber (both great for weight loss) and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

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A diet rich in lettuce and other greens is always a good idea, but not all leafy vegetables are created equal. If you're looking for salad and sandwich ingredients that pack a nutrient punch, it can be tricky to tell which types are the best. Many leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They can be an excellent source of vitamin K, which regulates blood clotting and promotes bone health, as well as anti-cancer antioxidants, heart-healthy fiber and water for hydration. From popular greens like romaine and iceberg to trendy kale, we get raw about the best and worst leafy vegetables for a healthy diet.

Check out our slideshow above to discover the best and worst leafy vegetables for your health.

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