You may have heard of the chicory root that’s been used in foods and medicine for many years, but there’s another healthy member of the family that’s pretty similar. This is known as the endive, which is pronounced the way that it’s spelled (en-dive). Depending on where you are in the world, there are a few different forms of endive. Here in the western part of the world, curly (or frisee) endive is more common, while many parts of the world have escarole.
No matter which type you’re adding to your diet, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. For those that haven’t tasted endive, it has been described as having a sweet yet nutty taste that can also be bitter in a good way. Let’s take a closer look into the endive to find its nutritional value, and the amazing health benefits that you can get from adding it to your diet.
Nutrition of Endive
Finding foods that have a wide range of nutritional benefits and a low amount of calories can be tough, but endive provides just that. A 100 gram serving (roughly 3.5 ounces) is only 17 calories, providing a small amount of protein and a significant 12 percent of your daily recommendation for dietary fiber. Each serving of endive has nearly three times your daily vitamin K recommendation at 289 percent. Vitamin A comes in at about half of a day’s worth, and folate is more than two-thirds.
Other vitamins worth noting between five and 15 percent include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Manganese is the biggest mineral in endive, with about a quarter of your daily recommendation. Around the five to 10 percent range are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper. With less than a half of gram of fat in each serving and no cholesterol, endive packs a wide punch at almost no calorie cost.
One of those great parts of the nutrition label that we looked at with endive is the fiber content. It’s estimated that a majority of people here in the United States aren’t getting the recommended daily amount of fiber. Endive is a nice way of laying a foundation for your daily fiber with more than 10 percent. Fiber helps your digestive system in many different ways, starting with creating more helpful bacteria (probiotics) that get rid of harmful bacteria in your gut.
This allows your digestive system to work more efficiently, preventing a lot of different problems both in the short term and long term. These problems range from simple constipation and diarrhea to colon cancer. It’s recommended that you get between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day, though most people are only getting around 15 grams according to studies.
There’s a nice chunk of fiber in each serving of endive, but the huge nutrient that you’ll see is vitamin K. With nearly three times the daily recommended value of vitamin K, your bones see the biggest benefit. Vitamin K allows your body to utilize calcium, which is the building block for bones. Those that are getting enough vitamin K in their diet are at a much lower risk for developing osteoporosis, arthritis and other bone issues.
While it’s not the first thought in your head, your bones are part of the skeletal system. Dentists are also recommending that you get enough vitamin K in your diet to fortify your teeth, leaving you with a healthy smile for years to come. There are other great benefits that you get from vitamin K, but we’ll get to those in just a bit.
Going back to the fiber content found in endive, that will help accelerate your weight loss in a couple of ways. Getting enough fiber in your diet allows your body to feel more full so that you can avoid cravings for foods that aren’t quite as high in nutritious value. On top of that, the increased efficiency in your digestive system from fiber allows for a slight boost to your metabolism.
Above all, though, is the fact that endive is widely considered to be one of those “negative calorie” foods that you can continue to eat without getting a net gain of calories. While that’s debatable between professionals, there’s no doubt that endive is tremendously low in calories. If you get just a one ounce serving as a quick snack or something to chew on, you’re only getting a couple of calories.
From the Neck Up
We’ve seen how endive can help your smile, but what about the other parts of your head that are just as (if not more) important? For starters, endive contains a fair share of vitamin E, which has been found to be beneficial for brain health. Many different studies show that people who get enough vitamin E in their diet reduce their chances of neurological diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
There’s an overall boost for your brain, and you might even notice a slight improvement in cognition, memory and overall mood. Endive also plays a part in eye health thanks to the high amount of vitamin A. People who’re getting enough vitamin A in their diet are less likely to have reduced vision in the future, as well as problems that include macular degeneration and cataracts.
Good For the Heart
With very little fat and no cholesterol in endive, your heart will be functioning more efficiently. Other proponents of endive will help to reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, as well. The biggest one is potassium, which strengthens the blood vessels in your heart. Those that eat more endive are also likely to see a more regulated blood pressure, and have even been shown to have healthier overall blood sugar levels. That makes endive a great food for those with diabetes or might be at risk.
Summing it Up
Most people assume that foods with a wide range of health benefits and almost no calories has to come with a huge list of strings attached. Thankfully, that’s not really the case with endive, as there aren’t many drawbacks, especially major ones. You’ll want to talk to a doctor before eating endive if you’re nursing or pregnant, and some might even be allergic to endive and similar foods altogether.
For those that don’t fall into either category, the only thing you need to watch out for is a history of gallstones. If you have had them in the past, you might want to stay away from endive. That’s because endive (and other similar plants) have the ability to help your body produce bile. You’ll know how much of a bad thing that is if you’ve had gallstones before. Outside of those minor details, endive makes for a great addition to any diet that can help your body tremendously in a lot of different ways.