Difference Between Cabbage and Lettuce

For some reason, people seem to frequently confuse lettuce and cabbage with each other. Historically, lettuce came from a Latin word that meant milk. Meanwhile, cabbage came from a phrase calle Normanno-Picard caboche, which meant head. Both of these plants are a type of vegetable, but they are different in taste, appearance and nutritional content.

Technically, lettuce is a type of leafy green vegetable that is similar to spinach. When you buy a salad at a restaurant, the main component will generally be lettuce. Meanwhile, cabbage is considered a cruciferous vegetable. This means that it is in the same family as cauliflower and broccoli. Both vegetables can be a part of a healthy diet, and they are good for you to eat. The main difference is how they are prepared and the way that they are grown.

The Difference Between Cabbage and Lettuce

At first glance, lettuce and cabbage may look fairly similar. If you have not eaten either of them, they may even look like they could have a similar taste. There are some fundamental differences between cabbage and lettuce though.

1. Appearance

One of the first differences between cabbage and lettuce is in the way that they look. Lettuce has a fairly short stem with leaves that wrap around each other. Because it has more chlorophyll in its leaves, lettuce will generally have a more green appearance. When the plant starts to bolt, lettuce can actually have flowers as well. You will rarely see these flowers though because farmers pick lettuce before it starts to bolt.

Cabbage is also a fairly leafy plant, but it has a slightly different appearance. It is a light green in color, but there are red and purple varieties as well. It has a short stem, and the head makes a bulbous shape. The inner leaves are softer, and the outer leaves can be a little tough to eat. Cabbage is generally a bit tougher than lettuce, and there is less water in the leaves than lettuce. It is often used to make boiled cabbage or cole slaw. Meanwhile, lettuce is typically used to make your standard salads.

2. Family

Lettuce and cabbage may look similar, but they are actually a part of two different plant species. Cabbage is from the Brassica plant family. Lettuce is a part of either the Asteraceae family or the Lactusa family.

3. Health Benefits

Both vegetables can be used as a part of a healthy diet and are good for you to eat. There are a few health differences between the plants. Cabbage has more fiber and vitamin B than lettuce. Meanwhile, lettuce is lower than calories and has more vitamin A. Because of the lower calories, lettuce is good for people who are on diets as long as they do not smother their salads with a bunch of high-calorie dressings or toppings. Lettuce is also good for lowering your risk of heart disease and strokes. It can also prevent brain defects in babies if the mother ate lettuce while she was pregnant.

Meanwhile, cabbage contains substances that can stop the organification of thyroid cells. This means that they can prevent goiters from developing. Cabbage has a decent amount of iron, magnesium and calcium. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. In some research studies, eating cabbage has also been show to help manage peptic ulcers.

4. The Growing Conditions

Lettuce and cabbage are also grown in different ways. Cabbage likes cooler temperatures and can grow in most soil types. It does not like soil that has a pH level higher than 6.5. The roots of cabbage are also prone to drying out, so there needs to be plenty of moisture to keep cabbage happy.

Lettuce can do well in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. It prefers sandy soil and the shade. During the summer and throughout the year, it wants a location that is protected from daytime heat. Farmers often cover the lettuce plants with a mesh to block some of the sun’s rays. Like cabbage, lettuce can dry out quickly, so it needs enough moisture to grow properly.

5. Nutritional Differences

A single serving of cabbage has 60 percent of your vitamin C intake for the day, but a serving of lettuce has 10 percent of your vitamin A intake. Cabbage includes 25 calories in a serving, while lettuce has just 14 calories. Both plants have fairly similar potassium, magnesium, iron and sugar levels. While cabbage has 10 percent of your daily intake of dietary fiber, lettuce has just 4 percent.

Other than nutritional differences, the other main difference is the way that lettuce and cabbage are used. Lettuce is almost always served raw in wraps, sandwiches and salads. Cabbage is typically cooked. It is often boiled with meat, although it may be served raw sometimes in cole slaw.


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