Cabbage and lettuce are two vegetables that have managed to perplex everyone. Especially when it comes to distinguishing between the two, this is primarily due to their similar appearance. However, these two vegetables have distinct differences.
For example, the most common type of cabbage, green cabbage, is frequently confused with iceberg lettuce due to their nearly identical appearances. On the other hand, Botanists claim that the two have nothing in common with data to back it up.
There are significant differences between green cabbage and iceberg lettuce in terms of nutritional value, flavor, textures, culinary uses, and many other factors.
Before we get into the differences, it’s essential to understand a bit of cabbage and lettuce in general.
Cabbages are one of the most common vegetables that you will come across. It is a widely cooked vegetable that has numerous culinary uses. You can eat it raw, stewed, boiled, braised, or even sautéed.
Cabbages belong to the Brassica genus alongside other vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and many others. Cabbages have tough and thick leaves, which turn soft, tender, and delicious after cooking. These vegetables are also rich in nutrients, vitamins, and salts, all of which are important for you to stay healthy.
There are different types of cabbages; green cabbage, Savoy’s hands, Asian cabbage, Dutch cabbage, and mustards. Some of their health benefits include
- Fighting microbial infections
- Strengthening bones (cabbages have vitamin C)
- Preventing some cancers
- Preventing inflammations
- Solving some indigestion problems
- Boosting the body’s metabolism
Lettuce is a vegetable from the Lactuca family. Despite the lettuce primarily popular as a salad ingredient, it is jam-packed with tons of beneficial nutrients. Other than that, it also has high water content.
There are four different types of lettuce, namely;
- The butterhead. It is round and has a smooth texture.
- The iceberg. It has tightly packed leaves and a round head.
- Summer crisp. It has thick leaves.
- Romaine. It has tightly packed leaves.
Lettuce has several health benefits;
- Vitamin A
- Helps in weight loss
- Has ability to induce sleep due to Lactucarium, a fluid that relaxes the muscles promoting a peaceful sleep
- It helps to protect neuronal cells
- Supports control and regulate blood sugar
- Promote general body well being due to the presence of nutrients such as omega 3
Below are some of the contrasting differences between the two.
Differences in Appearance
First of all, cabbage has a short stem, with a head that mostly assumes a bulb-like shape due to the nature of leaves overlapping each other tightly. Most are the times when this head is green in color.
The outer leaves are hard and tough, but a cabbage softens as you get to the inner layers. The center of cabbage is the softest.
On the other hand, lettuce also has a short stem with numerous leaves that appear to be overlapping between each other, a trait responsible for the lettuce’s oblong shape. Due to the high amount of chlorophyll in the lettuce’s leaves, they tend to be greener than cabbage’s.
Not all cabbage abide by the above characteristics. Some cabbage and lettuce variants might even develop a red or purple color. However, it will still be easy to differentiate the two according to shape.
Just like most of the vegetables, cabbage and lettuce mainly consist of water. However, the cabbage has a tougher density and texture than the lettuce because it has a lower water density. Cabbages consist of approximately 90% water, while lettuce has 95% water.
When it comes to nutrition, these two have shown contrasting differences such as:
It is worth noting that a single serving of lettuce is equivalent to 37 grams or a cup of shredded lettuce. For the cabbage, a single serving is equal to just 22 grams, which is the same as a single leaf.
However, cabbages contain a higher caloric content compared to lettuce. When you measure the caloric content of 100 grams of cabbage and lettuce, you will find twenty-five calories in cabbage and fifteen calories in lettuce.
Even with such differences, both the cabbage and lettuce foods are in the classification of veggies with low caloric content.
When it comes to carbohydrates, cabbages are superior to lettuce yet again. The carbohydrate content in cabbages is at least twice the amount present in the lettuce. In every 100 grams of cabbage, you are most likely to find 5.8 grams of carbohydrates.
This is primarily due to cabbages being richer in dietary fiber, which constitutes more than 40% of total carbs.
Still, on the carbohydrates, both lettuce and cabbages have glucose and fructose. However, cabbages contain additional sugars, sucrose, and maltose—thus, more nutritious.
For vitamins, lettuce is one of the most nutritious foods when it comes to Vitamin A. When comparing cabbages to lettuce in terms of vitamin content, the amount of vitamins in lettuce is more than fifty times that of cabbages.
Additionally, lettuce is also rich in vitamins such as Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin, Vitamin B3.
When you eat a hundred grams of lettuce, you will be providing your body with more than enough vitamins for a day’s diet.
The only vitamin that is richer in the lettuce is Vitamin C, having at least four times more for the cabbages. It also has a higher content in vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, and vitamin B9.
Even with these differences, both vegetables do not have Vitamin D, Vitamin B9 (the folic form), and Vitamin B12.
Lettuce and cabbages do not show a significant difference when it comes to protein content. Both have the same amount of essential amino acids. The only difference is that lettuce is slightly richer with just a gram or two for every one hundred grams.
Just as it is in proteins, lettuce and cabbages also have the same amount of fat content. There is only a slight 0.05 difference between the two. The only difference comes in when considering the type of fat predominantly present in each.
Lettuce contains more polyunsaturated fats, while cabbage has more saturated ones.
Generally, all vegetables, including cabbages and lettuce, are often regarded as foods with low glycemic indexes. However, even with these low indexes, cabbages tend to have a higher caloric index of 45 against lettuce’s 32.
Lettuce has more minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus, and copper. On the other hand, cabbages are only richer in calcium.
Both vegetables, however, have the same amount of nutrients, such as zinc and magnesium.
Cabbages do not have many growth requirements like lettuces, as you can grow cabbages in different soil types and environments. However, for cabbage to do well, you should cultivate it in soil with a pH above 6.5.
Additionally, cabbages tend to have weak roots that can dry out quickly. This tendency makes the plant die faster when you do not water it frequently. For cabbages to do good and produce satisfactory results, you have to offer fertile and moist soil.
A cool environment provides an added advantage too.
On the other hand, you should grow lettuce in sandy soil for them to do well. The pH of the soil environment also has to be between 6 and 7. Additionally, you have to grow lettuce in a shady area with a constant supply of water. If not, the leaves will gradually wilt and might even die.
Even though both cabbages and lettuce require regular watering, lettuce responds better to cooler environments. Both vegetables also need at least six hours of sunlight in a day for proper growth.
Texture and Taste differences
Yes, cabbage and lettuce might appear to be similar in appearance. However, the fact that both have a collection of leaves should not trick you into thinking that the pair have the same taste. For example, green cabbage has a complex and peppery taste. It is also crunchier and thicker. On the other hand, the iceberg lettuce assumes a blander and watery taste, making it the perfect fit for a salad.
Cabbages have a tough texture mainly because of the lesser water content. This ensures that it holds up well when you cook it. Cabbage leaves can withstand the heat during the cooking process and still remain intact, tasty, and nutritious.
This is one of the reasons you can serve cabbage raw and still cook it. In fact, when you cook cabbage correctly, it can produce a sweet flavor. It then serves as an ideal food to complement a diet.
This, however, does not mean that you cannot cook lettuce. Even though you primarily serve lettuce raw, you can cook it but not to the extreme extent. However, even though people enjoy food differently, lettuces are not the ideal cooking veggies.
It would be best if you usually used lettuces for salads, plate garnishes, or in a burger. This makes eating crunchy lettuce more enjoyable.
Cabbages have several uses, even when raw. You can combine it with ingredients such as vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard to make a popular picnic dish known as the coleslaw.
Another thing still worth noting is that lettuce has a weaker taste with no smell at all. On the other hand, cabbages tend to be tastier with a stronger odor.
We have seen that cabbages have a more intricate texture due to their low water content. This characteristic is also important because it enables cabbage to last longer than the lettuce when you store it. When you store cabbage in a fridge, it can last up to two months.
It is just a matter of days before a lettuce ball starts going bad in a refrigerator.
Even though cabbages have a longer shelf life, it is always advisable to eat vegetables when fresh from gaining the maximum health benefits.
Differences in Acidity
Both cabbages and lettuces are slightly acidic. However, the level of acidity in each vegetable can vary depending on the environmental conditions you cultivate them. For example, when lettuce is grown during winter tends to have a higher acidity than the one produced in summer. However, the general pH value of both will lie somewhere between 5.9 and 6.2.
For the cabbages, their pH values will mostly fall between 5.2 and 6.8.
It would be best if you kept in mind that even though these vegetables have slight acidity, it does not mean that you ingest the acid form.
When you calculate the Potential Renal Acid Load (a measure of the food’s ability to produce an acid or alkali in the body of an organism) for both vegetables, you will find a -3.1 acidity for the lettuce and a -2.8 for the cabbages.
What Are Their Health Benefits?
Vegetables are beneficial to our health. Even with their differences, both the lettuce and the cabbage have some common health benefits.
Both are rich in fiber
These are the indigestible plant materials that play a part in digestion.
Both have vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
Even though their percentage content differs, both veggies supply the body with nutrients necessary for growth.
For those looking for the healthier option of the two, it is essential to figure out the specific nutrients you are looking for before deciding. Cabbages tend to be healthier, but lettuce varieties (for example, the red leaf) can be good options.
Cabbage and lettuce are two nearly similar vegetables but with a significant difference. Regardless, each vegetable has different and unique contents.
However, both cabbage and lettuce are beneficial to the body in their own way. Why not incorporate both vegetables into your diet and get the most out of them?