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You can’t tell by looking at its outer leaves. Peeling away the crisp wrapping reveals a compact heart of romaine lettuce, but there aren’t any labels. One taste is all it takes to recognize this is premium produce. Still, the slightly sweet flavor doesn’t reveal anything about its nutritional profile and healthy benefits.
Does romaine lettuce have protein? Can the leafy green hold its own next to grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken? The main ingredient in a world-famous salad serves up a surprising array of answers to these questions and more.
5 Surprisingly Delicious Facts About Protein in Romaine Lettuce
When the conversation turns to protein, we usually picture it on the hoof or wing. Prepare to be surprised by five amazing, healthy and delicious facts about those fresh hearts of romaine in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
1. Vegetables Anchor the Protein Food Chain
We have a lot in common with cattle and poultry including our ability to produce protein. However, none of us animals generate as much as we need, so we depend on leaves, stems and roots to make up the difference. The protein content in romaine lettuce plays a key role in maintaining our good health.
It’s all about amino acids. Animals can only produce a small number of these basic protein building blocks. We depend on plants for the rest. Here’s how veggies do it.
• Plants generate glucose through photosynthesis.
• They source ammonia and nitrates in the soil to make nitrogen.
• These chemicals combine, react and synthesize amino acids.
• Plants build their healthy proteins from the amino acids.
The food chain from plants to animals to our plates delivers essential proteins we can’t generate by ourselves. Vegetables are vital anchors in our link to good health.
2. Nutrient-Dense Romaine Builds Muscle
Comparing the nutritional analysis of prime rib with a head of romaine lettuce reveals more surprising numbers. Both make an elegant dinner, but the romaine is more nutrient dense than the beef. Just 2 cups of this premium produce make a generous side salad packed with 1.16 grams of protein.
That nutritional kick promotes good health as effectively as animal-based proteins. Nationally recognized studies comparing meat and vegetable proteins find that plant protein may actually be better at building muscle, and it delivers without dishing up bad fats, cholesterol and hormones.
3. This Lettuce Comes With an Impressive List
If our California produce operations could print the list of nutritional benefits on each head of our romaine lettuce, the information would cover the super vegetable from root to stem. Every serving puts generous portions of minerals, vitamins and protein on your plate.
Romaine also keeps diets healthy with essential antioxidants and phytochemicals. Its leaves are rich with carotenoids that protect against cellular damage and may prevent vision problems. The lettuce can help lower cholesterol and boost immune systems with phytochemicals like saponins. It’s no surprise this compact veggie package is considered one of our healthiest lettuce choices.
4. It Lets You Cook Outside the Salad Bowl
You don’t have to reach for salad dressing to enjoy the protein in romaine lettuce. The leafy vegetable can handle the heat, so you can grill it, bake it or saute it. Its tender leaves make natural wraps, and its hearts are perfect pizza toppers. Romaine recipes offer all kinds of inspiration for healthy cooking.
• Tuck tender salmon tartare inside romaine hearts.
• Let romaine star in your favorite crudite.
• Make hearty, healthy turkey Caesar sandwiches.
• Try tamales wrapped in romaine leaves.
• Bake romaine hearts with cauliflower and couscous.
5. Romaine Lettuce Comes Packed With Benefits
The impressive protein content in romaine lettuce puts it high on our list of favorite healthy choices, but it boasts an impressive array of additional benefits. Whether you prefer its tender hearts or crisp leaves, you enjoy eco-friendly goodness with delicate flavor and almost no calories. Romaine is an affordable addition to the grocery list, it has a very admirable shelf life, and it’s simple to prepare.
This is a vegetable for all seasons too. It’s available year-round, so you can always count on romaine for easy menu planning. The benefits add up to a total that shouldn’t be surprising. Romaine lettuce is one of the tastiest ingredients for creative cooking and unlimited helpings of healthy protein.
Serving With Pride
The next time you enjoy one of those world-famous salads, take extra pleasure in knowing you’ve made a deliciously healthy choice. When you grill up your first romaine lettuce entree, savor the taste of a mouthwatering dish packed with plenty of guilt-free protein.
From restaurant tables to home kitchens, fresh romaine hearts offer ready-to-serve benefits. We proudly grow, pack and ship the very best from our fields here in California. You can always depend on Hitchcock Farms to supply the finest premium produce available year-round.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.