Foodstruct Advanced Nutrition Search | Diet Analysis | Glycemic index chart | Insulin index chart | Blog

Lettuce vs Cabbage - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

Compare
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on November 29, 2020
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Lettuce
vs
Cabbage

Summary

Cabbage and lettuce are both low-calorie vegetables with similar appearance but are unrelated to each other. Cabbage has a little more calories and is higher in carbs and dietary fiber. Lettuce, on the other hand, is richer in protein and fats. Lettuce also wins in the vitamin and mineral categories, containing more vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamins B1, B2, B3, also iron, potassium, copper, and phosphorus. However, cabbage is much richer in vitamin C, also containing larger amounts of vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folate, and calcium. Cabbage is lower in sodium.

Cabbage and lettuce possess beneficial qualities on cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, and oncological diseases. Red cabbage and lettuce tend to have stronger antioxidant effects.

Both cabbage and lettuce are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and are overall great for health. The final choice depends on personal preference.

Introduction

Due to their similar appearance, lettuce and cabbage are often confused, even though they have nothing in common botanically. In this article, we will further discuss the similarities and differences between these two vegetables, especially in nutrition and their impact on health.

Classification

Lettuce and cabbage are both layered, crunchy, and often green vegetables; however, they belong to separate families. Lettuce belongs to the Asteraceae family and the Lactuca genus, while cabbage is a part of the Brassicaceae family and the Oleracea species. Cabbage is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussel sprouts.

Appearance

Both cabbage and lettuce have short stems; however, lettuce leaves wrap each other, giving lettuce a more oblong shape, whereas cabbages look more round. Lettuce tends to have more chlorophyll, giving it a darker green coloring. Some variants of cabbages and lettuce can also be red or purple.

Taste and Use

Lettuce, containing more water, has a weaker taste and no smell, as opposed to cabbages that have a strong taste and odor. Cabbage being crunchier is often used in the kitchen in boiled or steamed forms, while lettuce is more commonly consumed raw.

Growing Conditions

These two vegetables also grow under different conditions. Lettuce is an annual plant that thrives in warmer climates, whereas cabbage is biannual and prefers cooler environments.

Varieties

Both lettuce and cabbages have various cultivars. These cultivars can differ by looks, taste, and nutritional values.

The most common varieties of lettuce are looseleaf, Romaine or cos, and iceberg or crisphead. Iceberg lettuce is the prevalent cultivar used in the United States and most resembles white cabbage by its appearance.

The most widely used varieties of cabbage are green, red, or purple, Savoy, and napa or Chinese cabbage. Brussel sprouts can also be considered to be small cabbages.

Nutrition

In this article, we are using the nutritional values for Romaine lettuce and green cabbage.

Like most vegetables, lettuce and cabbage consist predominantly of water. The tougher texture of cabbages is a result of a lower water density. Lettuce consists of 95% water, whereas cabbage contains 92% water.

Macronutrients and Calories

One serving of lettuce is equal to 36 grams, or one cup of shredded lettuce. A serving of cabbage, on the other hand, is only 23 grams or one average leaf.

Calories

Due to the higher density of macronutrients, cabbage contains more calories. 100g of cabbage contains 25 calories, whereas the same amount of lettuce has only 15.

Both lettuce and cabbage are low-calorie foods.

Protein and Fats

Lettuce and cabbage contain approximately the same amount of protein. Lettuce is only slightly richer in protein with 1.36g of it in every 100g, while cabbage contains around 0.1g less protein per 100g. Both lettuce and cabbage have some amounts of all essential amino acids.

Lettuce and cabbage are also similar in fat content. Lettuce only contains 0.05g more of it per 100g.

The predominant fat type in lettuce is the preferable polyunsaturated fatty acids when cabbage contains more saturated fatty acids. However, a hundred grams of lettuce contains only 0.15g of fats.

Carbohydrates

Cabbage contains almost double the number of carbohydrates that lettuce does, with 5.8g per 100g. Both vegetables, but especially cabbages, are rich in dietary fiber, which makes up about 45% of total carbohydrates.

The sugars found in lettuce are glucose and fructose. In addition to that, cabbage contains some sucrose and maltose.

Vitamins

Lettuce is an amazing source of vitamin A, containing over 50 times more of it than cabbages. Lettuce is also richer in vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3. One hundred grams of Romaine lettuce contains more than enough of the daily value of both vitamins A and K.

On the other hand, cabbage contains four times more vitamin C and is also higher in vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and folate or vitamin B9. A 100g of cabbage contains 41% of the daily value of vitamin C.

Both vegetables are entirely absent in vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin A +7456.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +46.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +14.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +60.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +66.2%
Contains more Vitamin C +297.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +58.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +37.8%
Contains more Folate +13.2%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 445% 5% 0% 31% 18% 19% 8% 9% 21% 29% 0% 316%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 6% 3% 0% 122% 16% 10% 5% 13% 29% 33% 0% 190%
Contains more Vitamin A +7456.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +46.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +14.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +60.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +66.2%
Contains more Vitamin C +297.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +58.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +37.8%
Contains more Folate +13.2%

Minerals

Lettuce is richer in minerals, being higher in iron, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.

Cabbage is richer in calcium but lower in sodium.

Lettuce and cabbage contain equal amounts of magnesium and zinc.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +83%
Contains more Phosphorus +11.5%
Contains more Potassium +14.1%
Contains more Copper +52.6%
Contains more Calcium +11.1%
Contains less Sodium -35.7%
Equal in Magnesium - 12
Equal in Zinc - 0.18
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 11% 33% 10% 13% 18% 4% 5% 10%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 12% 18% 9% 12% 15% 3% 5% 7%
Contains more Iron +83%
Contains more Phosphorus +11.5%
Contains more Potassium +14.1%
Contains more Copper +52.6%
Contains more Calcium +11.1%
Contains less Sodium -35.7%
Equal in Magnesium - 12
Equal in Zinc - 0.18

Glycemic Index

In general, vegetables tend to have a low glycemic index. Lettuce and cabbage are no exceptions to this rule.

An exact number for the glycemic index of cabbage or lettuce has not yet been researched. However, due to the low amount of carbohydrates, these values are assumed to be low.

You can read more about how cabbage affects blood glucose on our page.

Acidity

The acidity of both lettuce and cabbage can vary depending on environmental conditions and changes among cultivars. Lettuce and cabbage are slightly acidic foods.

The pH values of different lettuce varieties usually fall between 5.9 to 6.2. Lettuce grown in winter has a lower pH value when compared to lettuce grown in the summer (1).

The pH value for cabbages can be in the range of 5.2 to 6.8. Green cabbages usually have a pH value of 5.5 to 6.75 (2).

Even though these vegetables are slightly acidic, they are not acid-forming. Based on the potential renal acid load (PRAL), the acidity of lettuce is -3.1, making it alkaline-forming. The PRAL of cabbages has been calculated to be -2.8: also alkaline. The PRAL shows the capacity of the food to produce acids or bases inside the organism.

Weight Loss

Vegetables are known for their positive effects on weight loss diets. Like most vegetables, lettuce and cabbage are also low-calorie foods, rich in dietary fiber. Cabbage has more calories than lettuce, but it also has more than twice the amount of dietary fiber.

Increased vegetable consumption prevents long-term weight gain and provides further food-specific guidance for the prevention of obesity, a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and many other health conditions (3).

Cabbage and lettuce have been a part of the original low-carb diet in the late 18th century and have not lost their importance in these kinds of diets since (4).

Red cabbage has been studied to suppress pancreatic enzymes, consequently reducing fat and sugar absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, as well as decreasing blood glucose levels after high-starch meals (5).

Cabbage Soup Diet

The cabbage soup diet is a 7-day low calorie, high-fiber diet. As the name implies, this diet relies mainly on cabbage soup, although you can have other foods in limited amounts, mainly also vegetables or fruits.

Overall, soup consumption has been associated with a lower dietary energy density and a better diet quality in adults (6). However, the cabbage soup diet is an extreme form of diet, and after the initial weight loss, the weight may be regained quickly.

Health Impact

Health Benefits

Cabbage and lettuce are both rich in certain macronutrients and phytochemicals that give these vegetables various beneficial properties.

Cardiovascular Health

A high intake of vegetables has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease mortality also has been found to have an inverse association with intake of total vegetables (7).

Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbages, have been studied to promote cardiovascular health and overall longevity (8).

Research suggests that diets with nitrate-rich foods, such as lettuce, may lower the risk of heart attack or stroke mortality (9).

Diabetes

Red lettuce has been researched to have the potential to improve metabolic syndrome conditions of fatty liver and glucose metabolism, expressing antidiabetic effects due to the polyphenols found within (10). Red varieties of both lettuce and cabbages tend to have the highest amounts of antioxidant polyphenols (11).

A study has demonstrated the potential of cabbage to control blood sugar and lessen oxidative stress of the liver (12).

In general, diabetes patients benefit from a diet high in vegetables and fruit (7).

Cancer

Most meta-analyses have found inverse associations between cruciferous vegetable intake, such as cabbage, and risk of bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial, gastric, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and renal cancer (13).

Red lettuce has also been found to have significantly higher antitumor activity (14).

Downsides and Risks

Cabbage and lettuce have extremely few downsides, as long as they are grown in the right conditions and used in moderation.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume one and a half to two and a half cup-equivalents of dark-green vegetables per week as part of healthy meals (13).

References

  1. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3052/305249823014.pdf
  2. https://www.clemson.edu/extension/food/food2market/documents/ph_of_common_foods.pdf
  3. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001878
  4. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)61535-8/fulltext
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318762165
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24382211/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18356334/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21593509/
  9. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/a-salad-a-day-keeps-stroke-away
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082798/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26065768/
  12. https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jas.2019.413.420
  13. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/food-beverages/cruciferous-vegetables
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5979491/
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Lettuce vs Cabbage infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Lettuce Cabbage
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Lettuce Cabbage Opinion
Net carbs 1.57g 3.3g Cabbage
Protein 1.36g 1.28g Lettuce
Fats 0.15g 0.1g Lettuce
Carbs 2.87g 5.8g Cabbage
Calories 15kcal 25kcal Cabbage
Starch 0g 0g
Fructose 0.43g 1.45g Cabbage
Sugar 0.78g 3.2g Lettuce
Fiber 1.3g 2.5g Cabbage
Calcium 36mg 40mg Cabbage
Iron 0.86mg 0.47mg Lettuce
Magnesium 13mg 12mg Lettuce
Phosphorus 29mg 26mg Lettuce
Potassium 194mg 170mg Lettuce
Sodium 28mg 18mg Cabbage
Zinc 0.18mg 0.18mg
Copper 0.029mg 0.019mg Lettuce
Vitamin A 7405IU 98IU Lettuce
Vitamin E 0.22mg 0.15mg Lettuce
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 9.2mg 36.6mg Cabbage
Vitamin B1 0.07mg 0.061mg Lettuce
Vitamin B2 0.08mg 0.04mg Lettuce
Vitamin B3 0.375mg 0.234mg Lettuce
Vitamin B5 0.134mg 0.212mg Cabbage
Vitamin B6 0.09mg 0.124mg Cabbage
Folate 38µg 43µg Cabbage
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 126.3µg 76µg Lettuce
Tryptophan 0.009mg 0.011mg Cabbage
Threonine 0.059mg 0.035mg Lettuce
Isoleucine 0.084mg 0.03mg Lettuce
Leucine 0.079mg 0.041mg Lettuce
Lysine 0.084mg 0.044mg Lettuce
Methionine 0.016mg 0.012mg Lettuce
Phenylalanine 0.055mg 0.032mg Lettuce
Valine 0.07mg 0.042mg Lettuce
Histidine 0.022mg 0.022mg
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Saturated Fat 0.02g 0.034g Lettuce
Monounsaturated Fat 0.006g 0.017g Cabbage
Polyunsaturated fat 0.082g 0.017g Lettuce

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Lettuce Cabbage
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
75
Lettuce
35
Cabbage
Mineral Summary Score
13
Lettuce
10
Cabbage

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
8%
Lettuce
8%
Cabbage
Carbohydrates
3%
Lettuce
6%
Cabbage
Fats
1%
Lettuce
0%
Cabbage

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Lettuce
Lettuce is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.42g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Lettuce
Lettuce is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.014g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Lettuce
Lettuce is lower in glycemic index (difference - 32)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Lettuce
Lettuce is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sodium?
Cabbage
Cabbage contains less Sodium (difference - 10mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Cabbage
Cabbage is cheaper (difference - $0.3)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Lettuce - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169249/nutrients
  2. Cabbage - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.