Endive Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Endive annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a member of the chicory family. Endives are known for their mild bitter flavor. As with other leafy greens, it should come as no surprise that endives are one of the healthiest foods you could eat. They are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytonutrients that protect your health.

Endive Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (50g) of chopped endive.

  • Calories: 8.5
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.7g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Sugars: 0.1g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs

Endive is a non-starchy vegetable that's low in calories and carbohydrates. There are around 17 grams of total carbohydrates in a whole head of endive (and just 1.7g in a 1-cup serving), and 16 grams come from fiber. Endive's glycemic index is very low at just 15, meaning that if you are looking to prevent spikes in blood glucose after meals, you might consider adding endives to your plate.

Fats

There is just 1 gram of fat in an entire head of endive, with less than 1/2 gram in a 1-cup serving.

Protein

One cup of chopped endive provides just 0.6 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Endive is rich in several micronutrients including potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K. It also provides several B vitamins and some vitamin C.

Health Benefits

Endives are a nutrient-dense vegetable, offering several favorable compounds to promote good health.

Aids in Cancer Prevention

Endive contains a powerful flavonoid called kaempferol. Preliminary, but promising studies have shown that kaempferol inhibits the worst or most common cancers of the breast, brain, liver, colon, prostate, lung, pancreas, and more.

Kaempferol induces apoptosis (cell death) in tumors and reduces inflammation without negatively impacting healthy cells. Since cancer is one of the most challenging health problems for humans, eating endive is a great way to increase your intake of this cancer-fighting compound.

Promotes Heart Health

Endive is exceptionally high in potassium, fiber, and folate—three valuable nutrients for heart-health. Potassium is a well-established blood pressure lowering agent. It counters the effects of high sodium in the blood with urination and helps release tension in the blood vessels. The recommendation is to consume 4,700 milligrams per day, and most Americans don't meet this requirement.

Fiber improves lipid profiles by binding to cholesterol in the intestines, preventing its absorption, and then removing it for excretion. Finally, folate protects the arteries by metabolizing homocysteine, a compound associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke when it reaches high levels in the blood. Include endive as part of a heart-healthy meal plan that emphasizes fruits and vegetables.

Supports Good Vision

Endives provide ample vitamin A and beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). Vitamin A plays various roles in eye health, from preventing macular degeneration to enhancing night vision. Although vitamin A is often associated with orange-colored vegetables, leafy greens like endive are also great sources. Endives, through vitamin A, help with immune system function, vision, and cell growth and support for the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.

Aids Weight Loss

Endives are low in calories but high in fiber, a winning combination for promoting satiety during weight loss. Nothing makes it more difficult to lose weight than persistent hunger. Fiber slows digestion, keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Endive's high fiber and water content allow you to eat a larger volume of food without taking in excess calories. Focusing on getting more fiber through endives and other plant foods is a simple change that's proven to promote weight loss.

Supports a Healthy Pregnancy

Endives offer several crucial nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy. Endive's folate content helps reduce the risk of birth defects including neural tube defects, congenital heart conditions, and preterm birth.

Pregnant women must also maintain adequate intakes of vitamin A, choline, iron, and calcium—all of which are present in endives. Although endives are no substitute for prenatal vitamins, they make a great supplement to a healthy eating plan for pregnancy.

Allergies

Allergies to leafy greens like endive are not common but still possible. Sometimes this allergy is associated with allergies to carrots, peach, cherry, sycamore pollen, mugwort, or ragweed. If you experience symptoms such as chest tightness, hives, weak pulse, or swelling after eating endives, meet with an allergist to discuss your concerns.

Adverse Effects

Similar to other leafy greens, endives are high in vitamin K, with a half-cup providing about 50% of the nutrient needs for adult men and women. Vitamin K enhances blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding after an injury. However, if you take blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), vitamin K can interfere with the anticoagulant effects of your medication.

It is usually advised to maintain a consistent intake of leafy greens while on anticoagulants so your doctor can prescribe the right dosage of medication based on your typical eating habits. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to determine how endives best fit into your meal plan.

Varieties

Endives are available in multiple forms including broad-leafed escarole, curly-leafed frisée, and Belgian endives (which belong to the chicory family). Belgian endives produce tight cylindrical heads, while the leaves of escarole and frisée form rosettes. Sometimes referred to as the French endive or Witloof chicory, Belgian endives include red-leafed radicchio and smaller, green-leafed chicory used for salads.

When It's Best

Look for endives with a bright greenish, whitish, or yellowish crisp leaves. Avoid endives that are browning or wilting. If possible, buy endives locally or grow them in your own garden for the freshest harvest.

Storage and Food Safety

Endives should be stored in the refrigerator. Rinse endives in cold water and pat dry with a towel right before eating. Endives may keep for up to 2 weeks in cold storage, however, it's best to use them within a few days if possible. Leaves show signs of spoilage when they become wilted or slimy.

How to Prepare

Eat endives in salads, blended with other greens. You can also use them to make finger-friendly appetizers, using each leaf as a "boat" to hold ingredients, like cheese, avocado, or seafood. Dip endive leaves in your favorite creamy dips, guacamole, or salsa. To reduce bitterness and enhance endive's nutty flavor, roast the leaves in the oven.

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Article Sources
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