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Endives – The Ultimate Guide and Its Health Benefits

Endive is a ubiquitous vegetable and looks like lettuce. Most people are unaware of how to use it and tend to opt for more recognisable leafy greens like spinach. Endive is a bitter-tasting leafy green. However, these famous salad plants are much more than just lush greens. Endive is one of the most nutritious foods, containing antioxidants, fibres, potassium, minerals, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, phytonutrients, and other beneficial plant components. This hearty green goes well in stews, soups, salads, and pasta.

Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a plant grown for its crisp, curled leaves. The endive is a leafy green that belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and is closely related to the chicory root family, with distinct variations. There are various hypotheses regarding how the endive originated. It is thought to have origins in Egypt and Indonesia and has grown in Europe since the 16th century. This crop grows on healthy, well-drained fertile soil.

Endive has smooth cream-coloured leaves compacted into bud-like 10 to 12 cm long heads. It, like many other similar plants, needs a lot of water. However, while the endive is comparable to lettuce, it has significantly more calories. The three most common cultivar varieties of endive are curly-endive (Cichorium endivia var. Crispum) with narrow leaves and Belgian endive (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum Endive), and Escarole (Cichorium endivia var. Latifolium) with broad leaves.

Endive looks like a little green bush like other leafy greens and tastes bitter. However, endive is one of the healthiest vegetables in your lunch routine because it’s high in fibre, vitamins (A, C, K), minerals, and phytonutrients (carotenoids, lutein, and flavonoids) that help take care of your health. Endive is a vegetable that is grown for its nutritious leaves. 

Many European countries consider the Belgian endive a staple dish, yet it has recently gained popularity in the United States. In addition, endives get classified as Cichorium endivia, Cichorium intybus, and Cichorium pumilum, among other names. In addition, it’s known as chicory, endive, or endives in Spanish, and “frisée” in some regions of the United Kingdom.

The USDA provides this nutrition value for one hundred grams of raw endive (Cichorium endivia)

Water: 93.8 gCalories: 17 kcalCarbohydrate: 3.35 gTotal Fat: 0.2 gDietary fibre: 3.1 gProtein: 1.25 gCalcium: 52 mgPhosphorus: 28 mgSodium: 22 mg

Like other green leafy vegetables, raw endive consists of mostly water, 93.8 grams per 100 grams. Raw endive is high in numerous nutrients and contains vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, beta-carotene, folate, choline, phosphorus, and zinc. 

In 100 grams of raw endive, 3.35 grams of carbohydrates are present, mainly from fibre. Endive is a non-starchy vegetable that fits into the ketogenic diet. Fibre improves lipid profiles by binding to cholesterol in the intestines, preventing its absorption, and removing it via excretion. Endive, like most other greens, is low in fat. Raw endive has 0.2 grams of fat per 100 grams.

The protein content of the endive is 1.25 grams per 100 grams. Therefore, it is readily absorbed and contributes only a little protein to your daily protein consumption. Endive’s glycemic index (GI) is low at just 15, and it’s a good choice for preventing blood sugar spikes after meals.

Curated data shows that endive is high in several micronutrients, with vitamin K (231 µg ), vitamin A (108 µg ), potassium (314 mg), beta-carotene (1300 µg), choline (16.8 mg), and folate (14.2 µg) topping the list. Endive includes:

A tiny amount of calciumMagnesiumNumerous B vitaminsVitamin C

Endives also contain a small quantity of pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. Both potassium and magnesium contribute to reducing your blood pressure. In addition, potassium counters the effects of high sodium in the blood with urination and helps release tension in the blood vessels.

Varieties of Endive

Endive comes in many different varieties. There are three major types, each with slight variations in taste and texture. The following are the most popular endive varieties:

Curly endive (Cichorium endivia var. Crispum): This bitter-flavoured species features frilly, curled leaves and is sometimes known as frisée or chicory. Leaves of frisée form rosettes.Belgian endive (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum Endive): This endive lettuce, often known as Belgian endive, has pale yellow leaves that are slightly bitter. A reddish-coloured variant of the endive is called radicchio. It includes smaller, green-leafed chicory used for salads.Broad-leaved endive (Cichorium endivia var. Latifolium): Despite sharing the same genus andspecies as curly endive, this variety is less bitter than the other two. In some cuisines, it’s also known as escarole rather than endive. 

Health Benefits of Endives

Endive is a low-calorie, high-nutrient vegetable that contains various health-promoting elements. It has numerous health benefits, as discussed below:

Helps to Improve Bone Strength

Vitamin K is present in abundance in endive. Vitamin K aids blood coagulation, bone health, bone metabolism, and overall health. It also boosts bone strength by increasing protein levels that help retain calcium in the bone matrix. ½ a cup of endives provides you with approximately 72% of your daily needs for vitamin K. 

Rich in Antioxidants

Endive is also high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, and both of these substances show antioxidant effects. According to a study, antioxidants are effective substances that can neutralise free radicals, preventing oxidative stress-induced cell and tissue damage. In addition, according to research, the endive is high in antioxidants such as quercetin, Kaempferol, and myricetin.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

When it comes to lowering blood sugar, fibre-rich endive is a perfect addition. With high-fibre foods, people with type 1 diabetes have reduced blood glucose levels, whereas those with type 2 diabetes show improved blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels.

Beneficial for a Healthy Pregnancy

Endive provides a variety of essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. Endive is a beneficial food to obtain your daily dose of folic acid, often known as folate, which helps prevent congenital disabilities. A study shows that folic acid intake during pregnancy can prevent neural tube defects, congenital heart disease, and premature births and boost the synthesis of red blood cells in prenatal newborns. 

Endive is also high in vitamin A, choline, iron, potassium, and calcium, critical nutrients for pregnant women. While endive is an excellent addition to a balanced pregnancy diet, it is not a substitute for prenatal vitamins.

Supports Weight Loss

Endive is a popular green vegetable low in calories but high in nutrients, making it an excellent complement to any weight-loss strategy. In addition, because of the endive’s high fibre and water content, you feel satiated. It contains roughly 3.1 grams of fibre per 100 grams.

Fibre helps to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable by delaying digestion. In addition, high-fibre foods help reduce sugar absorption into the bloodstream, lowering blood sugar levels and decreasing appetite. According to a study, increased fibre intake helped women minimise their weight and fat gain risk. 

Improves Vision

Endive provides beta-carotene, which improves eyesight. Beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) can help patients suffering from vitamin A insufficiency, itching, eye ulcers, dry eyes, prevent macular degeneration and improve night vision.

Vitamin A is often associated with orangish-coloured vegetables, although it can also be present in leafy greens like endives. 

Ensures Liver Health

Endive is a powerful liver detoxifier, containing phenolic chemicals that protect the liver and control cholesterol while regulating hormones. In addition, the antioxidants in the endives protect the liver from oxidative stress. Endive has also been used as a traditional medicine in China to treat liver problems.

Improves Heart Health

Endive is abundant in potassium, fibre, folic acid, and other essential elements for cardiac health. Potassium is a well-known blood pressure reducer, and it’s a critical intracellular electrolyte that helps relieve heart blood vessel tension and resists the effects of excessive sodium in circulation. Fibres control lipid levels by binding to cholesterol in the intestines, blocking absorption.

Prevents Cancerous Cells Formation

Endive includes Kaempferol, which is a potent flavonoid. Kaempferol reduces inflammation and induces apoptosis (cell death) in tumours without harming healthy cells. In a study, Kaempferol inhibits cancers of the breast, brain, liver, colon, prostate, lung, pancreas, and other organs. Because cancer is such a complicated health problem, eating endive is beneficial for getting more of this cancer-fighting chemical. Endive also has a lot of potential for use in the manufacture of cancer chemotherapeutic medicines.

Helps Improve Digestion

Endive is high in fibre and low in calories. For example, in 100 grams of raw endive, you get about 17 calories and 3.1 grams of nutritional fibre. Fibre is critical for digestive health, preventing constipation, and increasing bowel regularity. In addition, fibre might protect against various digestive disorders, according to research

The HealthifyMe Note

Endive is available year-round and is very healthy. It helps in weight loss, promotes healthy pregnancy, balances sugar levels, thereby preventing diabetes, improves vision, prevents gallstones, improves digestion, detoxes the liver, etc.

Healthy Recipes Using Endives

Brown Rice and Endive Salad

Servings: 2 servings

Preparation time: 1 hour

Ingredients

Uncooked brown rice: 1/2 cupWater: 1 cupEndives, chopped: 1 headFinely chopped onion: 1/4Balsamic vinegar: 2 tablespoonsExtra-virgin olive oil: 1 tablespoonSalt and ground black pepper to taste

Method of Preparation

Bring the water and brown rice to a boil. Simmer until the rice is tender for 45 to 50 minutes. Allow the rice to cool.Mix the rice, endive, and chopped onion. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with pepper and salt. 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 250 KcalProtein: 6.1 gCarbohydrates: 39.4 gDietary Fibre: 10.2 gFat: 8.3 gCalcium: 154.9 mg

Roasted Lettuce and Endive

Serves: 3

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Endives halved lengthwise: 2 headsLettuce halved lengthwise: 1Olive oil: 3 tablespoonsOlives: 3/4 cupDried oregano: 1 tablespoonThyme: 1 tablespoonSalt and ground black pepper to taste

Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a baking dish with parchment paper.Place the endive and lettuce halve on the baking sheet and drizzle two tablespoons of the olive oil on top.Mix oregano, olives, thyme, salt, black pepper, and chile pepper to make a spice mixture.Stuff inner leaves with the spice mixture using your fingers and drizzle the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil on top.Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 192.4 kcalProtein: 6.3 gCarbohydrates: 16.7 gDietary Fibre: 10.8 gFat: 12.9 gCalcium: 221.9 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

You can consume Endive in its fresh form or can cook it. You can pair these bitter-endive leaves with juicy orange and a sweet-tart red wine vinaigrette to serve with tuna salad, chicken salad, or any of your favourite vegetable dips.

Potential Drawbacks of Endive

Although leafy green allergies are uncommon, some people have experienced food allergy symptoms after eating endive. For example, a study shows that people with occupational contact dermatitis to lettuce had cross-sensitivity to endives. This allergy is sometimes related to other vegetable allergies like carrots, peaches, cherries, sycamore pollen, mugwort, and ragweed. Also, if you experience any adverse effects like hives, rashes, weak pulse, chest tightness, itching, or swelling, stop eating it and consult your doctor. 

Despite the high concentrations of glycosides and inulin in endive, no adverse effects happen when eaten in moderate amounts. Like other leafy greens, the endive is strong in vitamin K, which aids blood clotting and prevents excessive bleeding. However, if you take blood thinners like warfarin, maintaining a constant vitamin K intake might interfere with your medicine, resulting in anticoagulant effects.

When Is It at Its Best?

Endive varieties ripen in the summer, and some in the fall. This combination helps with blanching the heads before harvesting, as many gardeners do, and helps temper the bitterness of endive when grown at lower temperatures. If you can, purchase endive locally or cultivate your own. Fresh endive is available in markets all year. Look for crisp-tender leaves that are greenish, white, or yellowish when buying endives at the supermarket or farmer’s market. Avoid rough, browned, discoloured, or wilting endive.

Storage and Food Safety

Refrigerate endive in a plastic bag. It’ll last 3-5 days in the fridge. Before eating, give it a quick rinse in cold water and pat dry with a clean towel. However, if ever possible, consume it within a few days. Dried or slimy leaves indicate that the endive quality has deteriorated, and you should discard them.

Precautions to Take

Like any other raw vegetable, the endive should be cleaned adequately under running water before eating. Washing away hazardous bacteria lowers the risk of food contamination.Discard any yellow or discoloured endive leaves.Blanching reduces the bitterness from the leaves and enhances their flavour.

People who take blood thinners such as warfarin should limit their intake. Because blood thinners can interact with vitamin K, you’re at risk of significant side effects like blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.

Conclusion

The chicory family’s endive is a plant with several varieties, including curly, Belgian, and broad-leafed endives. Vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and fibre are abundant in this leafy green vegetable. As a result, it supports better digestion, skin, bone strength, liver function, and weight loss. Endive is a great way to start a healthy diet because it offers nutrients and is low in calories. It can be consumed as raw salads or cooked to provide nutrients, flavour, and health benefits to various cuisines. However, the endive might cause bloating or allergies because of its high fibre content. So, before making any dietary changes, you should visit your dietician.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can you eat endives raw?

A. Endives are delicious raw or cooked, and raw endives are crisp and sharp when fresh, making them a terrific salad component. Slice the raw endive into thin strips and top with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and toasted walnuts to get a perfect snack. In addition, raw endive, like most vegetables, is substantial in fibre and a good source of potassium, beta carotene, folate, vitamins A and K, and phytonutrients (carotenoids, lutein, and flavonoids) that aid in health maintenance. 

Q. Is the endive good for your liver?

A. Endive is a very effective liver detoxifier. Bitter leafy greens like chicory and endive are beneficial to the liver. The bitterness of these foods aids bile flow in the liver, which aids in detoxification. In addition, it has phenolic compounds in it that help to preserve the liver. A variety of research has connected this leafy green to enhanced liver function.

Q. Is the endive healthier than lettuce?

A. Endive and lettuce are high in vitamin A, vitamin K, dietary fibre, and potassium. Endive has more pantothenic acid, whereas lettuce has more Vitamin B6. In addition, endive is a calcium-rich vegetable. With 3.1 grams per 100 grams, endive has 48% more dietary fibre than romaine lettuce.

Endive has several health benefits. Fibre, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E are abundant in the endive leaves. It has low sugar, salt, and fat content. It also contains inulin, a carbohydrate that improves digestion and promotes hunger. Endive is more energy-dense than lettuce.

Q. Are endives anti-inflammatory?

A. Endive is high in antioxidants, which protect your body from oxidative stress and unstable molecules called free radicals. Chronic oxidative stress may lead to inflammation. According to studies, the green includes kaempferol, an antioxidant in endives with anti-inflammatory qualities that may protect your cells from chronic inflammation, heart disease, and certain malignancies. This research, however, is restricted to rats and test tubes. A more human study is required to comprehend kaempferol’s anti-inflammatory effects completely.

Q. Is the endive better raw or cooked?

A. Endives are delicious raw or cooked. Endives are crisp and harsh when raw, but their sharp flavour softens into a mild, nutty sweetness when cooked. Some vitamins (such as vitamin C) are lost when cooking vegetables, whereas other nutrients are more easily absorbed (like lycopene in tomatoes). If you prefer cooked endive over raw, prepare it quickly. Endive can be cooked on the grill, stir-fried, sautéed or baked.

Q. Is endive high in iron?

A. Endive contains 0.83 mg of iron per 100 grams, but spinach contains 2.7 mg or 227% more iron than endive. However, endive, a vegetable with very little iron, can play an essential part in your iron metabolism. 

Q. Is the endive good for kidneys?

A. Endive is high in potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that aids kidney function. Too much or too little potassium might cause renal problems. Extra potassium in the blood is removed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. It might put pressure on your kidneys. So if you’re suffering from any renal disorder, consult your doctor before adding endives to your diet.

Q. Is endive easy to digest?

A. Endive is very easy to digest and excellent for weak intestines. This vegetable has roughly 17 calories and 6 grams of dietary fibre per 100 grams raw endive. Fibre is necessary for digestive health as it helps prevent constipation, improve bowel regularity, and lessen the risk of heart disease. Endive is also good for the liver since it helps produce gastric juices.

Q. Is endive a prebiotic?

A. The endive is a leafy green that belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and is closely related to the chicory root family, with distinct variations. Prebiotics are abundant in endive, and the prebiotic fibre inulin accounts for around 68% of chicory root fibre. Its inulin fibre encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, relieves constipation, and aids glucose regulation.

Q. Is the endive high in calcium?

A. Endive has a calcium level of 52 mg per 100 grams, and spinach has 90% more calcium than endive. By boosting the amount of protein in the bone matrix, vitamin K in endives helps bones retain calcium. In addition, the endive leaves are high in fibre, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. 

Q. How much vitamin K is in endive?

A. Vitamin K can be found in abundance in endives ~231 µg. Vitamin K aids blood coagulation, bone health, bone metabolism, and overall health. It also strengthens bones by raising the amounts of protein that help calcium retention in the bone matrix. 

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