Have you ever walked up to a head of lettuce and a head of cabbage without really being able to tell the difference? Don't worry, you're not alone. These leafy greens share so many similarities that it can be hard to tell the differences between the two. But, there are quite a few distinctions between them and we're here to finally help you recognize what officially separates these two and which is better for you in the long run.

Main Differences

lettuce in the garden
  • Cabbage has a short stem with leaves that bunch at the top in a sort of bulbous shape.
  • Lettuce has a short stem but its leaves wrap tightly around each other, which makes them look like one huge leaf.
  • Lettuce doesn't have a fragrance whereas cabbage does.
  • People use cabbage more in cooking due to its versatility.
  • Lettuce has a much higher vitamin A percentage but cabbage is higher in vitamin C.

Cabbage

cabbage on a black background

Cabbage is considered to be the more versatile one out of the two, but it also offers more vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and fiber. It comes with a few more calories, but not enough to make a significant difference or to turn it into an unhealthy food.

Nutrition

Cabbage is packed with nutrients and vitamins that each come with their own collection of health benefits.

Perhaps the most notable benefit is that cabbage possesses a compound called sulforaphane. Studies have found that sulforaphane had the ability to delay cancers like melanoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

A 2012 study published by the University of Missouri discovered that apigenin, an agent found in cabbage, parsley, and celery effectively treated breast cancer. Co-author and professor Salman Hyder stated that "this is the first study to show that apigenin, which can be extracted from celery, parsley, and many other natural sources, is effective against human breast cancer cells that had been influenced by a certain chemical used in hormone replacement therapy."

Cabbage also packs in a significant amount of vitamin C, which is important for preventing scurvy, promoting healthy skin, treating the common cold, and also helping to treat cancer. 100 g of cabbage contains 60 percent vitamin C as opposed to lettuce, which only hosts 15 percent. One Medical reported that most men should aim for 90 mg of vitamin C per day whereas most women should aim for 75 mg. They also reported that there is 50 mg of vitamin C present in one cup of red cabbage.

The amount of fiber found in cabbage is almost twice as much as you'll find in lettuce. As you probably know, fiber helps us normalize our bowel movements, lowers cholesterol, and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

Vitamin B-12 is also present in cabbage but there's no trace of it in lettuce. B-12 helps with mental illnesses like depression and improves sleeping patterns. Studies have shown that vitamin B-12 can significantly improve depressive symptoms.

Lettuce and cabbage both share a healthy dose of vitamin K, which is best for bone strength and can lower the risk of bone fractures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a vitamin K deficiency can lead to an abnormal amount of bleeding. "Vitamin K is a substance that our body needs to form clots and to stop bleeding," they stated, which is why it's so important to get the recommended dose into your body. It's been suggested that males 19+ years get at least 120 micrograms of vitamin K into their diet whereas women 19 and older should strive for 90 micrograms. INRTracker reported that if you were to eat a little over one cup of raw cabbage, women would get 100 percent of their recommended vitamin K dose.

Cooking

Cabbage is usually used more often than lettuce in cooking because it can be boiled, steamed, eaten raw, stewed, or sauteed. Unlike lettuce, which contains a ton of water, cabbage is a little tougher and the leaves are thicker. People also tend to remove the outer leaves and like to use the inner ones for cooking because the outer ones are too tough to be used.

Lettuce

lettuce growing

It might seem like all the benefits are in cabbage, but lettuce comes with some serious vitamins and nutrients of its own.

Nutrition

This vegetable is a terrific source of vitamin A and unlike cabbage, lettuce contains quite a bit of it. Get ready for this: 100 grams of lettuce contains 148 percent of vitamin A. That number would be impressive on its own, but it's even more so when you compare it with cabbage, which only contains one percent vitamin According to SFGate, one cup of shredded lettuce contains 15 percent of the vitamin A men need and 19 percent of the vitamin A that women need. The National Institutes of Health says that vitamin A comes with a slew of health benefits like immune function, eyesight, and helping regulate the function of crucial organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys.

Lettuce also has 73 micrograms of folate in each serving of 100 grams. Studies have shown that folate, perhaps better known as vitamin B-9, is great for the healthy development of fetuses. It also plays a role in female reproduction and the production of mature sperm.

Lettuce also contains a slightly higher percentage of potassium. There have been studies on the importance of potassium reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality rates. Additional studies have shown that potassium also helps older people with maintaining their muscle strength.

Cooking

Lettuce isn't as tough or thick as cabbage and it comes with a nice crunch. People like to use this leafy green in salads, in wraps, or on burgers and it's a great choice because lettuce doesn't really taste like anything. With it being mostly water (96 percent in fact) people like to use it for an added crunch without needing to worry about any offensive or clashing tastes.

Which Is Better For You?

a head of cabbage

With so many benefits associated with each one, it's hard not to think of them as superfoods. But at the end of the day, cabbage is way better for you than lettuce due to the number of nutrients and vitamins it has. It's slightly higher in calories, but not by enough to make it unhealthy by any means. The good news is that you can also do a bunch of things with cabbage whereas lettuce is pretty limited to its uses in the kitchen.

So, the next time you're wondering which one to grab in the store or even which one to include in your garden, you might want to lean towards cabbage.

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