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This NebGuide discusses different salad greens, their uses and nutritional value.
Lettuce has been an important part of human diets since ancient times. It was customary for the Romans to precede their gargantuan banquets with refreshing lettuce salads in the belief that lettuce enhanced the appetite and relaxed the alimentary canal. It had other uses, too. Dried lettuce juice was used to aid sleep in Elizabethan times and through World War II lactucarium, a sedative made from wild lettuce extracts, was used in hospitals¹. Today, lettuce is used as the main ingredient in most salads and it is joined by a variety of other salad greens.
Salad greens are easy to grow in the home garden and are an important source of vitamins and minerals in our diets. Dark green leaves are good sources of vitamins A and C, iron, folic acid, and calcium. Iceberg lettuce is the most popular salad green, but there are many other lettuces and salad greens that can add interest and nutrients to everyday meals.