The Difference Between Cabbage And Lettuce

Everybody knows the truthfulness of the fact that every day we learn something new and useful. There are so many little things which are passing near us, and we (almost) never give them attention. That is something I want to tell you about today, and it is related to veggies.

So, a couple of days ago I’ve gone to my local grocery store. As someone who is always cooking something, a grocery store is like a gold mine for me.

All those colors and scents inspire me to do my magic. This time I’ve wanted to get something greenish, and naturally, my hand reached for the cabbage and some lettuce.

And there was the moment when it came clear to me – they look alike, but they are not the same. The question arose – what is the difference between cabbage and lettuce?

There was a kind lady by the beam scale, and we started talking about my discovery by surprise. She told me that cabbage and lettuce are vegetables, they even look similar, but they are from two different families.

Oh dear! Vegetables have their own families? Well, this requires some serious research work. Let me share with you the outcome of my exploring endeavor.

The Glorious History

While being an ordinary vegetable, the cabbage has some pretty interesting stories about his origins. The use of cabbage in Europe’s cuisine is dated to 1000 BC. At that time, in Britain and continental Europe could be found an ancestor of cabbage – the wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea).

It is assumed that cabbage was domesticated through the history after the wheat and lentil, and the Celts were the first ones to domesticate it. Also, cabbage was well-known to Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

Interesting fact – ancient Greeks believed that cabbage is harmful to grape, and they’ve never planted it near the vineyards. In Medieval Age, cabbage was a regular part of dishes throughout the Europe, and on some occasions, it was considered as prominent.

And who could imagine that lettuce would be cultivated by the Egyptians around 2700 BC?

Ancient Egyptians used the lettuce to produce oil from its seeds, and had a place in some rituals of the cult. Furthermore, Egyptians passed lettuce to Greeks, and Greeks to Romans – all in fair trades.

In 1000’s, lettuce was considered as natural medicine, and just a few centuries later, Cristopher Columbus brought it to the New world.

Today, the world’s largest producer of cabbage and lettuce is China, and it’s holding up to 47% of world’s production.

Meet Mr. Cabbage

Let us start with some usual information about cabbage. Cabbage is a green leafy vegetable from the Brassicaceae family.

But, cabbage is not always green leafed – its varieties are red cabbage and savoy. Cabbage is strong and endurable vegetable that can survive low temperatures. On the other hand, it needs a constant supply of water otherwise it will dry up.

In our homes, during cold winter days, fruit baskets are full with citrus fruits because they are rich in vitamin C, right? Although a vegetable, cabbage contains more vitamin C than, for example – an orange, which is traditionally considered to be the primary source of this vitamin.

And that is not all! Vitamin A, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, dietary fibers, proteins and a little bit of sugar are also in the nutritive chart of cabbage.

What does this mean for us?

  • Because it contains power source of vitamin C, cabbage is taking care of ours skin health, makes our bones stronger, watches metabolism and affects mood.
  • Dietary fibers from cabbage aid our digestion, and it is good for stomach-related health problems.
  • Also, there are antioxidants present in the cabbage which means that they are taking care of some free radicals which may be sneaking in our bodies. These radicals, in time, could be a trigger for tumor, cancer or heart disease. So, cabbage can’t cure cancer, but it is useful for preventing it. Some scientific studies took place in China, and the conclusion was that number of breast cancer was reduced in women when they used cabbage in their diets.
  • When we were kids, older ones often told us that carrot is good for our eyes. Now, when we are older, cabbage is taking care of good eye health and can delay the formation of cataract.
  • We have said that there is also a red cabbage. Well, red cabbage is a booster for brain health because it has “forgotten” vitamin K which is protecting nerves from damaging. Likewise, vitamin K increases concentration and mental functions.

Ok. Now it is time for lettuce!

Lettuce – Helping Us From Ancient Times

Lettuce belongs to green vegetables, but the first major thing that differs it from cabbage is that lettuce is from Asteraceae family.

Lettuce is a very sensitive vegetable, especially during summer’s high temperatures, so it requires shade to grow unharmed. Also, in order of preventing it from drying up, lettuce should frequently be watered.

Back in the Medieval days, lettuce was considered as natural medicine which could help men troubled with blood pressure, insomnia, deficiency of appetite, or digestive problems.

Similar to cabbage, lettuce contains almost the same number of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, but in different values.

These are the good, healthy things that are found in lettuce:

  • Vitamins A, B6, C, E, K,
  • Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin
  • A little bit of minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, zinc
  • And, of course – carbohydrates, moisture, fat, dietary fiber, and sugar.

Long list, right? This is what benefits we can have from lettuce.

  • Believe it or not, it is scientifically proved that lettuce is protecting our neuronal cells. What are those? Neurons are cells in the brain which are making our memory functions. Opposite to that, the death of neurons can result in loss of remembrance. When the death of neuronal cells reaches critical levels, the unfortunate result of that is Alzheimer’s disease. So, lettuce is excellent brain food.
  • As well as cabbage, lettuce also provides vitamin A which is good for eye health.
  • If you are having weight control issues, don’t be worried – lettuce can help. Being rich in fiber and cellulose, lettuce helps digestion and can be used for weight control.
  • I’ve already said that some time ago lettuce was used to help with the lack of sleep. Nothing is different nowadays. In the leafs of lettuce can be found lactucarium. Lactucarium is a white-colored fluid that can induce sleep. With no side effects, drinking a tonic made of lettuce can give you a good sleep.
  • Lettuce is also an anti-cancer fighter. No, it can’t cure it, but it can control breast cancer cells and leukemia cells.
  • Similarly to cabbage, lettuce is taking care of bone health, improves metabolism, lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.

Well, so far this makes a pretty good summary of cabbage and lettuce.

And if you are still wondering what the differences between these two veggies are, here is an abstract:

  • Cabbage is from Brassicaceae family and lettuce from Asteraceae.
  • Etymologically, word “cabbage” is derived from “Normanno-Picard caboche” which means “head,” and lettuce stems from the Latin word “lac” which means “milk.”
  • Cabbage is denser packed with leaves. Therefore it is heavier than lettuce.
  • Both plants of cabbage and lettuce have a short stem, but lettuce’s stem lengthens and branches as the plant grows.
  • Related to cooking dishes, lettuce is almost always served as a salad and does not have any particular smell.
  • On the other side – cabbage is boiled in water and served cooked as a side dish with meat.
  • When cooked, cabbage releases sulfur smell which is unpleasant to some people.
  • Finally, cabbage is way richer with vitamin C and dietary fiber, but lettuce contains less calories than cabbage and more of vitamin A.

Difference Between Cabbage and Lettuce: Nutritional Values

Nutrient

Cabbage - Nutritional Value

Lettuce - Nutritional Value

Calories

25

17

Vitamin A

2% of DV

174% of DV

Vitamin B6

6%

4%

Vitamin C

61%

40%

Iron

3%

5%

Magnesium

3%

3%

Sugar

3.2 g

1.2 g

Potassium

5%

7%

Dietary Fiber

10%

8%

Protein

3% (1.3 g)

2% (1.2 g)

We have slowly, step-by-step narrowed it down to cooking. I’ve mentioned that cabbage is usually prepared as cooked dish and lettuce as a raw salad. Therefore, recipes are moving in that direction.

But before we start, there is something that we can agree about – every chef, beginner or master, requires some good tools. And when it comes down to preparing and cutting vegetables, the choice surely are – knives. Which ones to choose, how much they cost, which are the best ones, don’t worry – read this.

Not so long ago, I’ve wrote an article about experimenting with Asian kitchen, and my choice was the king of cabbage – bok choy. Here you can read how to properly prepare bok choy.

When preparing a vegetable dish, it is very important to know how much time it is needed for cooking it. We don’t want dish to be overcooked or uncooked. So, don’t panic and don’t race the clock, this article can help you.

If you are looking for some excellent recipes on how to cook cabbage, you can find a bunch of quality ideas here.

In need for salad, wrap, soup or juice made out of lettuce, well – here is what I have found. And a little more here.

Throughout the writing of this article, I was thinking – what to write at the end of it? It is tough to say what veggie is better – they both are excellent and super-healthy!

Whether you are in need of salad, side dish, cooked meal – or, you want to take care of your health, either way, you can’t do wrong with cabbage and lettuce.

The differences related to these two vegetables are about plant families with fancy Latin names, origins, growing them, but in nutritive values, they are ALMOST the same.

Now, I think I will leave the computer, and make some sandwiches. Lettuce is fresh, washed and already on the cut table…

Until next time 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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