Endive is often described as a green leafy green vegetable that comes in curly or flat-leaf varieties, but that's not entirely true. To be precise, endive is the curly-leafed type, and escarole is the one with larger, flatter leaves. Endive, native to Asia Minor and a member of the Asteraceae (daisy) family of plants, is a close cousin to chicory, radicchio, and Belgian endive (witloof). Frisee is a smaller variety with fine, lacy leaves.
Endive is a cool weather crop like lettuce, with a crisp texture and robust flavor. The inner leaves are sweeter, but the more mature outer leaves deliver a bit of kick to the taste buds – in a good way. You'll often find it in fancy mixes of lettuce greens because of its attractive, frilly leaves.
It turns out that endive is nutritious as well. In juicing, it's best to blend endive with other veggies for a sweeter - or at least more neutral - taste. In salads, endive adds an interesting zest, and can be cooked tender-crisp like spinach, as a wrapping for meat or fish.
While most Americans pronounce the word as "ehn-dive," the enlightened give it a French twist by (correctly) calling it "on-deev." No matter. It's the same tasty salad green – albeit rather pale and exotic-looking – that can add nutritious panache to nearly any meal.
Endive is one of Dr. Mercola’s most highly recommended vegetables.
Health Benefits of Endive
While it's been suggested that half a cup of chopped endive is a sensible serving size, maybe two cups, which weighs just 100 grams (comparable to a cup of sliced apples) may be more realistic. In that two-cup serving is an impressive 43 percent of the daily value for vitamin A, as well as 35 percent for folate and 21 percent for manganese.
Vitamin A, along with ß-carotenes, which convert to vitamin A in the body, team up for a double dose of benefits for the eyes. Vitamin A is required to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin, and protect against lung and mouth cancers.
Endive also provides a whopping 289 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin K in a two-cup serving, which is important for balanced blood coagulation.
Other B vitamins in endive include folate (the natural form of this vitamin – not the synthetic form called folic acid), thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). These all work together to ensure the healthy metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, but these vitamins and the functions they provide can only come from an outside source - the body can't manufacture them on its own. So when you hear how important it is to eat your greens, this is one reason why.
The manganese content in endive performs an amazing number of vital services within the body. It assists the body in blood clotting by regulating blood sugar, metabolizing carbohydrates and absorbing calcium, and helps form tissues, bones, and sex hormones. It's also important for the optimal function of the nerves and brain, and is one of the players in the fight against free radicals as a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
This salad green has a number of healing effects that touch virtually the entire body. It nourishes the optic nerves to help stave off macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. It helps promote the secretion of bile, which aids the liver and gall bladder. Eating endive boosts the blood and has the capacity to prevent anemia. The high fiber content in endive helps keep the system running smoothly. It's also an excellent vitamin A source that helps fight cancers of the rectum and bladder, and melanoma.
The kaempferol in endive (also found in other crucifers) has been found to naturally inhibit ovarian cancer cells. In fact, when these cells are exposed to it, they die. But kaempferol also has the ability to stop cancer from growing blood vessels that feed them – starving them, in essence – a process called angiogenesis.
Endive Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Studies on Endive
Kaempferol is a flavonoid found in many edible plants, including endive. Epidemiological studies have found links between cancer and cardiovascular disease risks and the consumption of kaempferol-rich foods like endive. And numerous preclinical studies indicate that kaempferol confers "antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-osteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic benefits.”1
Although the study was undertaken to explore the value of developing kaempferol-based drug therapies, it's clear that this phytochemical contains powerful cancer-fighting compounds.
Endive Healthy Recipes:
Wild-Caught Cod with Mediterranean Sauce
|1 (6 oz.) wild-caught cod or salmon filet, skin removed
||1 c. red onion, diced
||4 Tbsp. coconut oil
||2 garlic cloves, minced
|10 pitted black olives, chopped
||½ c. Roma tomato, chopped
||1 large lemon
||1/3 tsp. turmeric powder
|1 medium-sized Belgian endive
||Kosher sea salt
||Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the fish and place it in a shallow baking dish. Pour 1 tsp. of coconut oil over it, and then season with a pinch of salt. Broil or steam the fish.
For the sauce, heat the remaining coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat for 1 minute, then add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, olives, and turmeric. Cook for 3-4 minutes on low, until garlic is barely golden. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Wash the endive, slice it diagonally into thin, bite-sized strips and place in a large bowl. Add pinch of salt, lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. coconut oil and toss together.
To assemble the entire dish, place the fish on a platter, pour the sauce over it and place the endive on top for a tasty garnish.
Endive Fun Facts
Belgian endive was "discovered" in 1830 by Jan Lammers of Belgium, who forgot that he'd stored chicory roots in his dark, warm cellar. He later found that the roots had sprouted, producing a "new" type of green with wide, pale, flavorful leaves. Introduced in Paris in 1872, the popular new vegetable was nicknamed "white gold."
A relative of chicory, radicchio, and Belgian endive, endive is from the daisy family, native to Asia Minor. Sometimes it's called escarole, which is a similar leafy green, but with wider, flatter leaves.
Endive has distinctive, curly green leaves and a distinctive, flavorful "bite," which is why it's often combined with other greens in salads. It's also cooked and has found itself in soups, stir fries, and curry dishes.
Pronounced "on-deev," this veggie is loaded with a long list of nutrients, from vitamin A to B-carotenes, the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, manganese, copper, and folate.
For a delectable salad, try a combination of endive with honey, balsamic, or raspberry vinaigrette, sliced Granny Smith apples, walnuts, and bleu cheese.