Lamb’s lettuce and endive are among the winter salads par excellence. Served with a delicious vinaigrette and fruity oranges or pomegranate seeds, they provide the body with important nutrients and bring fresh variety to the winter kitchen. But especially in the dark and cold season, lettuce has a high nitrate value – but you can easily reduce it.
Nitrate in lettuce
Lettuce needs the naturally occurring nitrate in the soil for the formation of protein. The stalks, leaf panicles, and outer green leaves, in particular, are rich in nitrate, as they are involved in the water supply to the plant. When there is a lack of sunlight, the plants store a particularly large amount of nitrate – also at night or in greenhouses. With the help of daylight, the nitrate is broken down, which is why vegetables should be harvested in the evening.
Nitrate in the body
Nitrates are nitrogen compounds. Foods with a high nitrate content are not of concern in and of themselves. However, nitrite can be converted into nitrosamines in the body: these are considered carcinogenic. Nitrites are an intermediate product in supplying the plant with nitrogen. The nitrate can be converted into nitrite by microbiological or enzymatic effects, e.g. B. improper storage or transport of the plant as well as hygiene deficiencies.
Reduce nitrates in winter salads
In order to reduce the nitrate content in winter lettuce, the rosette should be removed from the lamb’s lettuce and only the individual leaves should be eaten. Endive care should be taken to remove the nitrate-rich stalk as well as the outer leaves and thick leaf veins.