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25.03.2021


These are the healthiest parts of butter lettuce

Lettuce and apples have something in common. The healthiest part of apples is the skin. The apple's outside contains the highest concentration of phytochemicals. This is also the case with lettuce. The healthiest parts of lettuce are the darker leaves on the outside of the crop.

Study
Argentine food scientists, affiliated with the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, used HPLC to determine the composition of the leaves of ordinary lettuce heads. Excuse us: from the leaves of Lactuca sativa, as lettuce is officially called.


These are the healthiest parts of butter lettuce


Results
The concentration of most of the phytochemicals was higher in the outer leaves than in the inner leaves. The researchers found more carotenoids and phenols in the outer leaves and less in the inner leaves of the lettuce heads.

The figure below has been reduced in size. Click on it for a larger version.


These are the healthiest parts of butter lettuce


These are the healthiest parts of butter lettuce


The Argentines also looked at chlorophyll. Chlorophyll's concentration, like that of most other phytochemicals, was also higher in the outer leaves.

Explanation
The leaves on the outside of the head are older than the inside. So they have had more time to produce phytochemicals.

In addition, they were more exposed to environmental factors. Plants produce phytochemicals to protect themselves against those factors.

Source:
Journal of Food Biochemistry 38 (2014) 352-62.

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