Lettuce – the Natural Diuretic, Sedative and Beauty Ingredient

Lettuce close up

LettuceRedGIf there was a poll for most boring vegetable surely lettuce would win a place near the top.

With this in mind, Vegging Out has taken a pledge to give this humble and largely overlooked salad vegetable a new lease of life.

The lettuce make-over began in my last post where I explored different ways to eat lettuce with 10 Tasty Lettuce Recipes. My hope is for us all to banish those cold and uninspiring lettuce and tomato salads in favour of something a little more adventurous.

So . . . what else is there to say about lettuce?!

Lettuce Opium

One of the most interesting things about lettuce can be found in its stem.

Break the base of your lettuce stems and you should see a milky fluid appear. When dried, this fluid, best seen in the wild Lactuca virosa species of lettuce, is called ‘lactucarium’. Lactucarium is also known as ‘lettuce opium’ because it has a sedative quality.

Lactucarium was popular in the 19th century, but it was discovered and used way before that. The Romans and Egyptians took advantage of the lettuce’s opium-like properties by eating it at the end of a meal to put them to sleep.

Lettuce – the Natural Diuretic

Lettuce is a good choice for those suffering from water retention and bloating because it is highly diuretic.

Diuretics help the body to eliminate sodium and water, which is why they are often prescribed by doctors to lower the blood pressure of those with hypertension. However, diuretics can also rob the body of essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium.

The good thing about lettuce is that it couples its diuretic properties with a good dose of minerals, including manganese, chromium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

The best way to use lettuce as a diuretic is to juice half to a whole head and drink on its own or mixed with other vegetable or fruit juices such as spinach, carrot, garlic or apple (that’s not a recipe by the way!). It’s easier to juice a hard-headed variety such as iceberg.

Lettuce – for Natural Beauty

Lettuce contains nutrients that are important for maintaining healthy skin. Here’s a few ways you can use it in your beauty routine:

Nutrients in Lettuce

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, lettuce contains excellent quantities of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese, chromium as well as very good quantities of potassium, molybdenum, fibre, vitamin B1, iron, vitamin B2, phosphorus, and good quantities of calcium, tryptophan, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6.

Discover 10 Tasty Lettuce Recipes here.

[Photo by skylarprimm from Flickr.]



10 Tasty Lettuce Recipes


Lettuce – like the radish – is another one of those vegetables that people associate with salad and salad only. And even though the lettuce has got a lot going for it (especially if you’re a rabbit) it doesn’t inspire too much creativity in the kitchen.

Lettuce deserves a make-over, and that’s what we will give it, right here, right now!

Here are ten tasty lettuce recipes to try:

(And here’s a handy link for converting cup measurements)

1• Lettuce soups: Lettuce and Garlic, Chive Soup or Watercress and Lettuce Soup or Gordon Ramsay’s Pea, Mint and Lettuce Soup with Parma Ham

Fresh, full of flavour and nutrients – and surprisingly filling (especially with a lovely crusty bread roll).

2• Jamie Oliver’s Favourite Winter Salad

A much tastier twist on your normal lettuce-based salad, including anchovies, lemon, watercress, halloumi and pomegranate. I can see why it’s a ‘favourite’.

3• Asian-style lettuce: Asian Lettuce Wraps or Chinese Chicken and Mushroom Lettuce Cups

Use your lettuce leaves Asian style and fill them with beef or chicken, and a bit of Asian spice.

4• Caramalised Pork Over Lettuce

A sweet pork dish with a hint of aromatic cinnamon. Can be served with rice.

5• Lettuce Wedges with Creamy Dressing

Soooo simple. Sooo refreshing. A great vegetarian starter or side dish. The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.

6• Lettuce, Carrot and Cucumber Juice

This will refresh you on a hot day and give you a great nutrient boost on any day! It’s alkaline, so good for inflammation, and reviving, making it the perfect drink for those ‘tired out’ days.

7• Strawberry, Pecan, Lettuce Salad

Yes, OK, it’s lettuce in a salad . . . but it *is* a strawberry and pecan salad. Strawberries and pecans!! Mmm mmmmm!

8• Lettuce Boats with an assortment of fillings

An alternative to the lettuce wrap . . . lettuce boats! Fill them with all sorts of chicken, tuna or prawn mixes. Great ideas for starters. Most can be served warm or cold.

9• Tangy Lettuce Slaw

You’ve heard of coleslaw . . . well this is the lettuce version! Choose your favourite lettuce and add Dijon mustard, lemon, mayonnaise, cucumber, celery and salt.

10• Pickled Lettuce – Sweet and Sour (Parve)

A gentle version of sauerkraut. Great as a side dish or in a sandwich.

[Photo by quinnanya from Flickr.]


Planting Seeds

seed packets

A couple of weeks ago I reclaimed some planting space in my small garden when a tree fell over due to the weight of snow. Excited at the prospect of growing some food, I headed to the garden centre and returned with packets of radish, carrot, lettuce and chive seeds in my grubby paws.

A New Attempt to Grow My Own

I haven’t had much luck with seeds in the past. I think I’ve gone wrong by planting the seeds too low and not watering them enough.

Determined to do the right thing this time, I got out some tools and started to break up the soil, only to unearth poop upon poop of cat excrement with fresh dollops of dog poop on top.

How disappointing – my tiny patch of land appears to be the local pet potty. My seeds will have no chance of survival if I put them in only to be dug up by poopers.

Remembering Not to Plant Too Low

Disheartened, I replanted some spiky plants that were overgrowing round the front into the potty area, and planted some seeds in the patches in between.

Remembering not to plant the seeds too low, I dragged the tip of a cane in the soil to form a little trench about half-an-inch deep, sprinkled in the seeds and covered them up.

‘Animals Like Soft Soil on Their Bottoms’

At this point I phoned my parents who suggested covering the seeded areas with twigs as ‘animals like soft soil on their bottoms’ and wouldn’t like the feeling of the twigs.

Twigs duly placed I got out the watering can and gave the seeds their first soak.

How Long Will the Seeds Take to Grow?

Now . . . I don’t have high hopes for my seeds at the moment. I will be so excited if they germinate and if they grow into anything edible it will be a miracle!

If anything grows, the radishes will be the first to appear. They take 3–6 weeks to grow. The lettuces may appear in 9–11 weeks and the carrots in 12–14 weeks.

I won’t be inviting anyone around for salad just yet, but keep your fingers crossed for me and watch this space!