The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable. In many countries, it is typically eaten cold and raw, in salads, hamburgers, tacos, and many other dishes.
In some places, including China, lettuce is typically eaten cooked and use of the stem is as important as use of the leaf. The lettuce plant has a short stem initially but when it blooms the stem lengthens and branches to produce many flower heads - called bolting - when grown to eat, lettuce is harvested before it bolts.
Lettuce contain the sedative lactucarium which relaxes the nerves without impairing digestion. As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can enhance the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.
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