What is endive? Nutrition, properties and how it is cooked

Although they are very different vegetables, endive shares a family with artichokes, lettuce, endive or thistle. In addition, they are all healthy and recommended foods for day to day. Find out why.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on October 01, 2021.

Last update: October 01, 2021

Endive is an excellent ingredient for making salads and a variety of appetizers. In addition, it is very healthy because this vegetable is loaded with nutrients that can greatly benefit your health.

Whether you know it or are not very fond of it, we suggest you read the following article. In it you can discover which nutrients stand out, what are these advantages for the body and how it can be introduced in the day to day.

Endives: a vegetable fruit of chance

Endive has a striking bitter taste that goes well in salads and other dishes.

Endive or endive (Chicorium endivia L.) is a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. In this same group there are more than 20,000 species, but very few of them are cultivated.

The variety consumed today has nothing to do with the ancient plant known to the Greeks or the Romans. This appeared in Belgium by chance when some farmers left chicory root stored in a dark, warm and humid place, and its characteristic tender white leaves developed.

It is in this country where its most devoted consumers are. But its cultivation and the preference for this vegetable with a slight bitter taste has also spread in France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

Its shape is reminiscent of small lettuce buds, white in color and with yellowish tips. Like the endive, the taste of the endive is a bit bitter.

Nutritional composition of endive

The main component of this vegetable is water, fiber and carbohydrates. But also It has interesting and outstanding nutrients that the body needs to function and develop normally. This is the nutritional composition per 100 grams of raw food:

  • Water: 93.8 grams.
  • Energy: 17 kilocalories.
  • Protein: 1.25 grams.
  • Fat: 0.2 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 3.35 grams.
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams.

In addition to these macronutrients, endives provide folates, other B vitamins and vitamin A. In terms of minerals, potassium and magnesium stand out. There are also antioxidant compounds such as beta-carotene.

Endive properties and possible benefits

Endives have some health benefits due to their nutritional composition. However, it should be noted that the maximum benefit is obtained with a diet and a healthy lifestyle in general.

Contains prebiotic inulin

Inulin is a type of carbohydrate that is present in some vegetables. Unlike other types of sugar, it is not digested and reaches the colon intact. There, it serves as food for the intestinal bacteria so that it is considered a prebiotic component.

Once fermented by the microbiota has the effect of stimulating and favoring the growth of positive colonic microflora. As this study of the British Journal of Nutrition the most benefited are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. However, its positive action goes far beyond intestinal health, strengthening, for example, the immune response.

In contact with water, it adopts a gelatinous texture that slows digestion, increases the feeling of fullness and reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine.

Endive during pregnancy

Vitamin B9 (or folate) is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and for proper cell development and function. This is important at any stage of life because the body is not able to store it. Most people with a varied diet cover the recommended daily amounts.

Instead, during pregnancy it is necessary to pay attention to its intake. The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities recommends all pregnant women (or who plan to have children) consume enough foods with folates plus 400 milligrams of folic acid. The goal is to help prevent neural tube birth defects such as anancephaly or spina bifida.

Vegetables and cardiovascular health

Fruits, vegetables, and all plant-based foods are key to keeping your heart and arteries healthy. Experts recognize that people who eat more of them have a lower risk of some diseases. This yes, as long as the intake occurs within the framework of a healthy diet.

Specifically from the United States Department of Agriculture they emphasize that «in general, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes ».

On the basis of observational studies some of the reasons can be established. As Woodside, Young, and McKinley point out, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure and improve microvascular function. In addition, it could improve other risk factors such as obesity, diabetes or blood lipid levels.

Sight protection

The vitamin A and beta-carotenes found in endive are nutrients that support the good function of the eye and improve visual capacity. Its deficiency is related to night blindness and lubrication problems in the eyes.

Constipation and intestinal transit

Fiber is one of the appropriate nutrients to improve intestinal transit through two actions. On the one hand, it increases the volume of stool, and on the other, it facilitates its movement through the digestive tract.

Great culinary versatility

Endive is very versatile and therefore supports different preparations.

Roquefort endives are one of their excellent preparations, common both in restaurants and at home. But The truth is that raw or cooked there are many ways to taste them. We assure you that it is possible to enjoy them in a thousand and one ways without getting bored:

  • You can use together with carrots, celery or bell pepper to dip your dips and favorite sauces.
  • Its wafer shape allows the most varied fillings to be "introduced": cheeses, anchovies, ham, tuna, grapes or nuts are just a few examples.
  • They are good in any type of salad accompanying or substituting lettuce and other green leaves. It pairs perfectly with mustard vinaigrettes or balsamic vinegar.
  • The buds can be spread whole with olive oil and broil or skillet until soft. Seasoned to taste, they are a perfect garnish for all kinds of meats. The stew softens the bitter taste and softens the leaves.
  • If you prefer to accompany a plate of salmon or other fish, it is only necessary to sauté them with salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice.
  • The combination with cheese is also good to roast them (alone, with cheese or with béchamel) and obtain a dish with a delicious creamy texture.

From all these ideas you can experience what everyone wants. The possibilities are many because they are also perfect in soups, sandwiches or stir-fries.

Take advantage of the autumn to enjoy the endive

Endive is a vegetable that is very or very little liked and it is difficult to find a middle ground. However, it is an option to consider because, like all vegetables, It is a food with many properties and many possibilities in the kitchen.

Although today endives are found throughout the year, the best time to taste them is in autumn and winter. When choosing them, he opts for the specimens without bumps or discoloration. In addition, these should feel heavy and dense.

The smooth leaves are crispier and the whiter, the less bitter. At home they keep well in the crisper drawer of the fridge for 5 to 7 days. The best way to do this is inside perforated plastic bags. It is not advisable to cut them until the moment of serving or cooking.

Contrary to what most people think, there are many ways to taste endives. Either alone or with other vegetables they are an excellent choice for preparing tasty and healthy dishes. An ideal option if you have proposed to increase the variety of your diet.