Romaine lettuce, also known as cos lettuce, has a distinctive tall head with sturdy leaves that have a firm rib running down its center. This appearance sets it apart from the rest of the greens in the lettuce family. Unlike other types of lettuce which quickly shrivel when exposed to heat, romaine is sturdier and can tolerate heat well.
The Origins of Cos Lettuce
Known for its pleasant bitter taste, romaine lettuce is a native of the East Mediterranean and West Asian regions. The scientific name of the plant, Lactuva sativa, was derived from the word lacto or milk. The history of this lettuce type dates back to 4500 BC as depicted in the tomb paintings of Egypt. The ancient Greeks also held high regards for this lettuce owing to its nutritional and medicinal properties. The Chinese have been growing the lettuce since the 5th century and it is still considered to be a sign of good luck in the country.
Romaine Lettuce is Introduced to the Western World
Romaine arrived in the United States with Christopher Columbus in 1493; subsequently Spanish missionaries grew the leafy vegetable in California for the first time. The technological advances that allowed food refrigeration further added to its popularity. Today, this lettuce type is widely available across the globe and is used in a variety of cuisines. The innumerable health benefits of cos lettuce over the other types of lettuce and its bitter taste have earned it quite a fan following.
Health Benefits of Eating Romaine Lettuce
Cos lettuce is particularly beneficial for people who suffer from cardiac ailments since it prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and its eventual build up in the arteries. This in turn prevents arterial blockage and greatly reduces the risk of stroke. The high fiber content of romaine also aids in digestive health, keeping the gastrointestinal tract clean. It also helps to enhance the production of bile in the body as it binds with the bile salts in the colon and purges them out of the system.
The Impact of Cos Lettuce on Chronic Disorders
Romaine not only reduces the amount of cholesterol in the body but also regulates the processing of harmful chemicals in the system which may prove detrimental to cardiac health. Hence it significantly reduces the risk of heart attack. This lettuce type also helps to bring down blood pressure which is another cause of cardiac issues. According to the American Institute of Cancer, cos lettuce is also remarkably effective against the fatal disease.
Buying Cos Lettuce
While the health benefits of cos lettuce are undeniable, romaine may contain a high amount of pesticide residues. These can be extremely dangerous and cause severe toxicity. The chemicals can impact the functioning of the liver and can have a bearing on how the organ processes other toxins. These dangerous substances can also hamper nerve functioning and affect the cells, reducing the production of energy in the body. The best way to avoid the detrimental effects of these pesticides is to only buy organically grown lettuce.
Romaine lettuce can be served in a variety of lip smacking ways. Add to this its high nutritional content and it is easy to understand why cos lettuce is replacing regular iceberg lettuce in homes and restaurants across the country.