Difference Between Cabbage and Lettuce

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Many people wonder about the variation between cabbage and lettuce, and while they may look the same and have some similar applications in our diet, there are some very important differences.

Difference Between Cabbage and Lettuce

When it comes to cabbage and lettuce, people often mistake one for the other – until they start eating. If you tend to cook with greens, then knowing how these two leafy vegetables differ is crucial.

Cabbage

When it comes to nutritional content, cabbage has an impressive amount of vitamin C, more than 50% of the daily requirement per serving, and also provides vitamin B6 and protein. Cabbage also contains glutamine and other active compounds that can help the respiratory and digestive systems. Cabbage is relatively low in calories, with only 25 in a 100-gram sample, and it is high in dietary fiber, boasting nearly twice as much as lettuce. Cabbage and lettuce don’t even belong to the same plant family – cabbage is a member of Brassicaceae, while lettuce is from the Asteraceae family.

The taste of cabbage is slightly more bitter than lettuce, and it is also more fibrous and less crunchy and refreshing. Cabbage is typically boiled or steamed, rather than eaten fresh, due to its tough nature. The leaves of a cabbage plant tend to be tougher on the outside and softer on the inside, making those the desired leafy parts. Cabbages also come in multiple colors, such as purple and white, while lettuce tends to only come in the traditional green. Cabbage can be grown in cool, moist areas that have a neutral pH level.

Close up of fresh green cabbage leaves in a field

Lettuce

This more common leafy vegetable has fewer calories than cabbage – only 15 in a 100-gram sample, but it also has half the dietary fiber, meaning that it doesn’t do as good a job at filling you up. Lettuce also has a much smaller concentration of vitamin C than cabbage and lacks some of the other essential nutrients. Lettuce has a higher water content and tends to have leaves that are more rigid.

Contrary to cabbages, the leaves of a lettuce head tend to become firmer as you move towards the middle. Lettuce has a rather neutral taste and is easy to chew, with little notice of fiber or toughness. Lettuce must be grown in sandy soil but has a wider range of pH in which it can flourish, but it similarly needs to be kept cool and moist.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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