Endive health benefits and therapeutic value

Endive is very much appreciated in cooking, and also for its many health benefits and its  therapeutic value.

Cichorium belongs to the Asteraceae family, as does lettuce and dandelion.

It is also known under the common name “chicory”.

Endive can be savored during fall and winter.

Many varieties exist, such as ‘Red Carla’, ‘Magnum’ and ‘Alba’.

When growing in the wild, endive doesn’t develop in the same manner. It needs to be in the dark to sprout in that distinctive white oval shape.

Endive, a short story

Endive started being grown in Belgium in a surprisingly random fashion.

A peasant, Mr Béziers, made the discovery out of pure serendipity. He had decided to hide wild endive roots in his cellar under a layer of earth to avoid taxation. Thus in the dark, the roots grew endives. This discovery dates back to the XIXth century (1850). Local Belgian inhabitants called it Witloof in Flemish, which means “white leaf”.

Twenty years later, this vegetable started spreading to neighboring countries such as France, with the name “Brussels endive”.

Health benefits and therapeutic value of endive

Endive, a diuretic

Endive is almost all water (95%) which makes it a great diuretic. It helps eliminate all the toxins from your body. Endive is prescribed as a treatment against cystitis, and to persons who don’t urinate enough.

Endive, a fast friend of diets

Endive will only provide you with 17 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g) and 0.2 g lipids. This “light” vegetable is perfect as a part of low-calorie diets. On top of that, it quickly leads the stomach to signal that it is satiated.

Endive, great for digestive functions

Contains 0.07 oz (2 g) fiber / 3.5 oz (100 g). Its fibers facilitate digestion and regulate intestinal transit. Endive is very easy to digest.

It is ideal for lazy intestines.

Its slightly bitter taste comes from compounds that ensure proper gall bladder activity.

It is also very beneficial to the liver, since it helps produce gastric juices.

Endive, an antioxidant

It contains high amounts of antioxidants which neutralize free radicals and protect the body from ageing, appearance of cardiovascular diseases and various cancers.

It contains vitamin C, 3.5 g / 3.5 oz (100 g) for cooked endive, which is a boon for our bodies. Vitamin C is involved in the body’s defense system, in producing red blood cells. It helps retain iron and reduces bad cholesterol levels, LDL.

Endive also contains vitamin A in smaller amounts in the form of beta-carotene, which works against premature cell ageing.

It also provides B group vitamins which intervene in metabolic cell activity and nutrient intake, in wound-healing and in the central nervous system.

Manganese is also found in endive, and this metal acts upon endocrine and exocrine glands of the body, as well as upon the respiratory and nervous system.

Endive also provides potassium: 185 mg / 3.5 oz (100 g). This mineral plays a part in regulating arterial blood pressure. Persons suffering from hypertension are advised to eat endive.

Potassium combined with sodium makes endive a potent purifier of the body and urinary tract.

Endive also imparts iron against anemia and for carrying oxygen throughout the body, phosphorus for bone and nerve cells, and calcium (23.2 mg / 3.5 oz (100 g)) for bone and muscle tissue health.

It is also one of very few vegetables that harbors selenium in relatively interesting amounts: 0.3 mg / 3.5 oz (100 g). This is an mineral with proven antioxidant properties.

Cooking endive

Endive favors our plates with a crunchy bite and a hint of bitterness.

We like eating endives raw or cooked, steamed or grilled, in mixed salads or baked with cheese, or layered in puff pastry.

A low-calorie food, endive can be indulged in without restraint all winter long. A proper course of endive after the year-end feasting will feel just right to purify the liver and recover a more healthy diet.

Savory ideas with endive

For starters, garnish raw endive leaves with tuna and cottage cheese or cream cheese. Toss in a few berries.

Do the same with mashed avocado.

Endive mixed salad: Endive chopped and tossed with apple squares, dried raisins and a couple pecans will be quite enticing to those who love sweet and sour.

Baked in an oven with cheese and béchamelle sauce is a typical dish of this vegetable’s birthplace.

Braised and paired with goat cheese or Roquefort with a dash of honey to sweeten it.

To reduce the bitterness released by endive, you can add a spoonful of brown sugar during the cooking.

Smart tip about endive

“As pale as an endive”: definitely not a phrase for your loved one, since this means looking pale and sickly!

Keeping endive: Endive is a fragile vegetable, that must be kept in the dark in a cool place.

Read also: how to grow endive