The words lettuce and salad are practically interchangeable since most salads are made predominantly with the green crispy leaves of lettuce. Most varieties of lettuce exude small amounts of a white, milky liquid when their leaves are broken. This "milk" gives lettuce its slightly bitter flavor and its scientific name, Lactuca sativa since Lactuca is derived from the Latin word for milk.
Romaine's vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green. Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol becomes oxidized, it becomes sticky and starts to build up in the artery walls forming plaques. If these plaques become too large, they can block off blood flow or break, causing a clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects. In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.
Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine's folic acid content. This B vitamin is needed by the body to convert a damaging chemical called homocysteine into other, benign substances. If not converted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of potassium, which has been shown in numerous studies to be useful in lowering high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. With its folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber content, romaine lettuce can significantly contribute to a heart-healthy diet.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 heart romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces (3 cups lightly packed)
1 8 -ounce container of strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar salt and pepper. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and toss with half the dressing. Place the lettuce onto 4 salad plates.
Toss the strawberries with the remaining dressing and place 1/4 of the berries on top of each mound of lettuce. Top each with cheese and sprinkle with the basil.
Calories 150; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 5 g, Poly Fat 1 g) ; Protein 6 g; Carb 7 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 15 mg; Sodium 320 mg
Excellent source of: Vitamin A, Vitamin C
Good source of: Protein, Vitamin K, Calcium, Manganese