From our friends at Greatist, here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to choosing the healthiest greens. The infographic compares calories, vitamins and mineral content in five popular lettuces and salad greens.
To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, steer clear of iceberg lettuce (as if you needed any more reasons to do that other than it’s bland taste, comparatively); it has a whole 20 calories per serving (compared to arugula’s eight calories per serving, it might as well be a jelly donut! jk jk) but relatively low levels of vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.
Spinach boasts the highest levels of iron and folate, though romaine’s no slouch in the folate department. Spinach, romaine and red leaf lettuce all have nearly or more than a day’s worth of vitamins A and K.
In general, darker greens and lettuces contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than lighter varieties, because they’re able to absorb more sunlight and synthesize it into nutrients.
One of the things the Greatest infographic leaves out is fatty acid content, but many of these greens are also decent sources of omega-3s. With 170 milligrams of omega-3s per serving, arugula has 1.3 times as many omega-3′s as omega-6′s (that’s a good thing). Romaine and green leaf lettuce rock nearly 2.5 times as many omega-3s as omega-6s; and spinach has a ratio of more than 5:1 omega-3s to omega-6s.