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What Are Those Brown Spots on Lettuce?

If you’ve noticed some brown spots on lettuce you just bought, you might be wondering if it’s safe to eat. You’re not alone. A lot of shoppers are puzzled when they see this discoloration on their “fresh” produce. So, what’s the deal here?

According to the scientific journal Plant Physiology, these strange-looking marks are known as “russet spotting.” A physiological disorder that may develop during postharvest transport and storage, russet spotting is particularly common in iceberg lettuce. According to the Postharvest Center at the University of California, russet spotting occurs because of exposure to low concentrations of a gas called ethylene. This exposure might happen for a variety of reasons, including transportation in mixed loads, or even close proximity to ethylene-generating fruits like apples in storage.

Although russet spotting may not be easy on the eyes, experts say the issue is strictly cosmetic. In other words: Russet spotting alone is no reason to throw your salad in the trash. Phew! 

Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that if you plan to serve salad to a big group of people, lettuce with russet spotting may not look super appealing to your crew. In that case, it may be worth your time to wait until just before the gathering to purchase your lettuce of choice — and inspect all those lettuce heads closely before making your selection.

More importantly, it’s crucial for you to take a close look at your lettuce — and any food, really — before actually serving it to yourself and others. The last thing you’d want is to discover the problem of mold on your produce after it’s already on your plate. Any lettuce that is slimy, decayed, or smelly is also a no-go.

But if all you’re seeing on your lettuce is a few brown spots or streaks, you can feel confident about digging in. Your healthy salad recipes await!

Next, see some of the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below:

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