Cabbage vs. Lettuce: Key Differences and Health Benefits

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast  (white meat, no skin)
Iron0.7 mg (4% DV)0.45mg (2% DV)
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)
Magnesium32 mg (8% DV)28 mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus230 mg (18% DV)229 mg (18% DV)
Potassium249 mg (10% DV)359 mg (14% DV)
Copper0.063 mg (7% DV)0.047 mg (5% DV)
Selenium30.2 mcg (55% DV)30.6 mcg (55% DV)
Turkey breast  (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)Turkey (dark, meat, no skin)Chicken (dark meat, no skin)
Calories147 calories161 calories173 calories178 calories
Protein30 g30 g27.7 g23.2 g
Total Fat2.1 g3.5 g6 g8.7 g
Saturated Fat0.6 g0.75 g1.8 g2.4 g
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)104 mg (4% DV)95 mg (4% DV)
Niacin11.8 mg (74% DV)10.3 mg (63% DV)7 mg (44% DV)6 mg (38% DV)
Vitamin B60.8 mg (62% DV)0.87 mg (67% DV)0.44mg (34% DV)0.3 mg (23 % DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)3.5 mg (32 % DV)2.1mg (19% DV)
Cholesterol80 mg (27%)98 mg (33% DV)128 mg (42% DV)75 mg (25% DV)

Vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of different vegetables, including leafy greens. Leafy greens provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. 

Lettuce and cabbage are two popular leafy vegetables, sometimes used in place of one another in salads and other dishes. Iceberg lettuce and green cabbage are the most common varieties available in grocery stores. While green cabbage and iceberg lettuce look very similar, they have distinct characteristics in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional content. 

In this article, we explore the differences between lettuce and cabbage, including tastes, textures, appearance, growing conditions, and nutritional values.

Keep reading to expand your knowledge on these two vegetables, and you’ll know exactly when, how, and why to use each.

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What's the Difference Between Lettuce and Cabbage?

There are many different varieties of cabbage and types of lettuce. For this article, we’ll compare the most common types of lettuce: iceberg lettuce and green cabbage.

Although iceberg lettuce and green cabbage seem somewhat similar, they have different characteristics. Here are some key differences between lettuce and cabbage:


Lettuce typically has loose, leafy heads with leaves that range from light green to deep red, depending on the type. Cabbage leaves grow as dense, compact heads with smooth, tightly packed leaves. Cabbage also comes in various colors, from green to purple/red.

Water Content

Lettuce has a higher water content compared to cabbage. This high water content contributes to its crisp and refreshing texture, making it a popular choice in salads and sandwiches. With its lower water content, Cabbage tends to have a denser and crunchier texture, which makes it hold up well in cooked dishes like stir-fries and soups.


Lettuce offers a mild, slightly sweet flavor, providing a fresh element to salads and wraps. In contrast, cabbage has a more robust, earthy, and almost peppery taste,  adding depth to cooked or sauteed dishes. The taste of cabbage intensifies when fermented, as in sauerkraut or kimchi. Because of its complex flavor, cabbage has a variety of culinary uses, including soups and stews.


The texture of lettuce is tender and crisp. Its leaves are perfect for raw consumption, creating a light and refreshing base in salads. The tougher texture of cabbage allows it to hold up well in cooking applications such as boiling, roasting, braising, or fermenting, which is why cabbage is often served cooked, except in the case of slaw.

Growing Conditions

Cabbage should be grown in the spring or fall to avoid hot summer temperatures. Cabbage grows well in fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. 

Lettuce is an easy-to-grow annual vegetable. Considered a spring and fall crop, lettuce thrives when temperatures are between 60 to 70 degrees F. Lettuce thrives and grows fastest in full sun, but it also grows well in light shade. The ideal soil for growing lettuce is moist but well-drained.

Plant Species

Lactuca sativa is a member of the Lactuca (lettuce) genus and the Asteraceae (sunflower or aster) family. Cabbage belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Its species name is Brassica oleracea. Other cruciferous vegetables from the Brassicaceae family include cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and collard greens.

Cabbage and lettuce have different flavor profiles and culinary uses. Cabbage is typically served cooked or used in coleslaw dishes, while lettuce is usually eaten fresh.

Nutritional Differences Between Cabbage and Lettuce

Both cabbage and lettuce contain similar nutrients. Both are healthy options if you’re trying to eat more vegetables, but the type of meal you are preparing may affect your choice. Let’s take a look at the different nutrient profiles for each of these leafy green vegetables.

Macronutrient Profiles

Cabbage and lettuce provide many of the same nutrients but in different amounts. Cabbage generally contains slightly more calories, protein, and dietary fiber than lettuce. Lettuce has a higher water content than cabbage, contributing to its lower calorie count. 

Both cabbage and lettuce are low-glycemic foods. 

To help you better compare their nutritional content, the chart below illustrates calories, total fat, sodium, protein, and fiber for a 100-gram serving of lettuce and cabbage.

Nutrient Lettuce (per 100g) Cabbage (per 100g)
Calories 5 25
Total Fat 0.1g 0.1g
Sodium 5mg 18mg
Protein 0.5g 1.3g
Carbohydrates 3g 6g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g 2.5g

Because cabbage is slightly higher in fiber and contains less water, it may be a more filling option than lettuce. 

Including fiber-rich vegetables in your diet is an important part of digestive health. Fiber supports healthy digestion and regular bowel movements and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Eating a diet that is high in fiber can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Fiber slows digestion, which often increases feelings of fullness after meals. This helps to control appetite and may result in a lower calorie intake. 

High-fiber meals also support healthy blood cholesterol levels and stable blood sugar.

Vitamins & Minerals

Cabbage is also more vitamin and mineral-rich than iceberg lettuce. It provides more calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Cabbage is also higher in fiber, a nutrient that supports a healthy digestive system and helps to manage blood sugar. 

The table below outlines the percentage of recommended daily intake for selected vitamins and minerals in a 100-gram serving of iceberg lettuce and green cabbage.

Lettuce (%) Cabbage (%)
Vitamin A 10% 2%
Vitamin C 5% 61%
Vitamin K 30% 96%
Vitamin B6 2% 6%
Folate 7% 11%
Calcium 4% 2%
Iron 3% 2%
Potassium 5% 7%

When looking at both the macronutrient and micronutrient profiles, you can see that cabbage and iceberg lettuce are low in calories and deliver minimal protein, fat, and carbs. Meanwhile, green cabbage is higher in most nutrients, with the exception of vitamin A.

Eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients can help reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The tables above only compare green cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Different types of lettuce and cabbage provide varying amounts of different nutrients.

Should You Choose Cabbage or Lettuce?

The type of vegetable you should choose depends on your tastes and preferences and the type of dish you want to make. Cabbage and lettuce can be used in several dishes, including Buddha bowls and vegetable salads

If you want the option that has more nutrients per serving, choose cabbage. Darker lettuces like red leaf and romaine are also nutrient-rich options.

Both red and green and red cabbage are typically higher in vitamins, minerals, and healthy plant compounds than iceberg lettuce.

Keep in mind that lettuce and cabbage have different tastes and textures, so cabbage might not be a good swap in all lettuce-based recipes.

For instance, raw cabbage can be used in a salad, but many different types of lettuce are usually preferred in these recipes because the flavor is milder and offers a lighter crunch.

If you want the texture of lettuce but are looking for a more nutritious option than iceberg, choose a different type of lettuce instead of iceberg, one that is more nutrient-rich, such as red leaf or romaine lettuce.

If you’re making a stir fry or soup, cabbage is better because it holds up better in recipes due to its sturdier leaves and lower water content. 

While lettuce and cabbage may seem like the same vegetable at times, their differences in appearance, taste, texture, and nutritional content make them better options for different kinds of recipes. Whether adding crisp lettuce to a refreshing salad or incorporating hearty cabbage into a savory stir-fry, both vegetables are part of a well-balanced diet.

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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019.
  3. Grundy MM, Edwards CH, Mackie AR, Gidley MJ, Butterworth PJ, Ellis PR. Re-evaluation of the mechanisms of dietary fibre and implications for macronutrient bioaccessibility, digestion and postprandial metabolism. Br J Nutr. 2016;116(5):816-833. doi:10.1017/S0007114516002610
  4. Dhingra D, Michael M, Rajput H, Patil RT. Dietary fibre in foods: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2012;49(3):255-266. doi:10.1007/s13197-011-0365-5

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better to Eat Lettuce or Cabbage?

The choice between lettuce and cabbage depends on personal preferences and dietary requirements. Lettuce is a great low-calorie option with a high water content, making it ideal for lighter meals or those seeking weight loss. Cabbage has a denser texture and richer nutritional profile, making it a great choice for a heartier option with additional nutrients.

Is Cabbage a Good Substitute for Lettuce?

Cabbage can substitute for lettuce in some dishes, especially in cooked recipes. Its hearty texture and earthy flavor can provide a satisfying alternative to lettuce wraps and stir-fries. However, in recipes that call for raw leafy greens, the crisp and tender lettuce leaves are hard to replace.

Is Lettuce a Baby Cabbage?

No, lettuce is not a baby cabbage. While they belong to the same plant family, they are different species with distinct characteristics. Lettuce typically has loose heads and tender leaves, whereas cabbage forms compact heads with densely packed leaves.

What Cabbage Taste Like Lettuce?

Cabbage has a more pronounced and earthy taste compared to the mild sweetness of lettuce. Experimenting with both vegetables in different recipes can help you determine your preferred taste and texture.

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