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Endive nutrition facts

Endive, commonly popular as escarole, is a green leafy vegetables with a hint of bitter flavor. However, this well known salad plant is much more than just a leafy green. Escarole is packed with numerous health benefiting plant nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A etc.

Botanically this perennial herbaceous leafy plant belongs to the Asteraceae (daisy) family, of the genus Cichorium and is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive (witloof). Its scientific name: Cichorium endivia.

Endive is native to Asia Minor region. This cool season crop requires well-drained fertile soil to flourish. There are two main cultivar varieties exist: curly (Frisee) endive (cichorium endivia var crispum) with curly narrow leaves and Escarole or scarole (cichorium endivia var latifolia) with broad leaves. Escarole leaves have spine like-dentate margins (dandelion or lettuce like) with thick stalks. Its leaves are less bitter when compare to narrow, curly, intensely bitter leaves of "frisee".

Belgian endive or witloof is a popular winter season vegetable in Europe. It is a type of vegetable with smooth cream-colored leaves compressed into a compact 10 to 12 cm long heads.

Health benefits of Endive

  • Endive is a very low calorie leafy vegetable. 100 g fresh leaves provide just 17 calories but contribute about 8% of RDA of fiber.

  • Current research studies suggest that high inulin and fiber content in escarole helps reduce high glucose and LDL cholesterol levels in diabetes and obese patients.

  • Endive is enriched with good amount Vitamin A and beta-carotenes. Both of these compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Carotenes convert to vitamin A in the body. Also, vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. In addition, it is also essential vitamin for vision. Consumption of natural vegetables/greens rich in vitamin A helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein and carbohydrates metabolism.

  • Escarole also good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron, and potassium. Manganese is used as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Endive (Cichorium endivia), raw,
Nutritive value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 17 Kcal <1%
Carbohydrates 3.35 g 2.5%
Protein 1.25 g 2%
Total Fat 0.20 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.10 g 8%

Folates 142 mcg 36%
Niacin 0.400 mg 2.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.900 mg 18%
Pyridoxine 0.020 mg 1.5%
Riboflavin 0.075 mg 6%
Thiamin 0.080 mg 7%
Vitamin A 2167 IU 72%
Vitamin C 6.5 mg 11%
Vitamin E 0.44 mg 3%
Vitamin K 231 mcg 192%

Sodium 22 mg 1.5%
Potassium 314 mg 7%

Calcium 52 mg 5%
Copper 0.099 mg 11%
Iron 0.83 mg 10%
Magnesium 15 mg 4%
Manganese 0.420 mg 18%
Phosphorus 28 mg 4%
Selenium 0.2 mcg <1%
Zinc 0.79 mg 7%

Carotene-ß 1300 mcg --
Carotene-? 0 mcg --
Cryptoxanthin-ß 0 mcg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 mcg --

Selection and storage

Fresh endive is available all around the year in the markets. Choose crispy, tender leafy tops. Avoid tough, yellow discolored leaves.

Store greens in plastic bag inside refrigerator. It will stay fresh for 3-4 days.

Preparation and serving methods

Wash fresh endive in cool running water. Discard yellow or any discolored leaves. Remove tough lower ends. Chop the leaves using paring knife.

Curly endive is generally available in the stores as blanched pale "frisee". Blanching removes bitterness from the leaves and enhances their flavor. Blanching is generally done by avoiding sunlight. Cover the plants for 2-4 weeks with inverted bushel baskets or plastic plates.

Wash them thoroughly in cold water before use. Trim the stalk end with sharp knife.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Frisee features in salads especially french salad lyonnaise.

  • Escarole is used in salads, soups (escarole bean soup) and in sauteed recipes.

  • Witloof is used raw in salads or braised and served as a vegetable.

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