Other Names of Endives: Scientific Name: Cichorium endivia.

Different varieties of Endives are called Frisee, Escarole, Belgian Endive, French Endive, Red Endive, Sugarloaf, Witlof, and Witloof. The name is also used when referring to other leafy greens such as Chicory or Radicchio.

Useful Parts of the Plant: Leaves, stems, and roots.

The leafy green endive is a vegetable that belongs to the Daisy family. It is a narrow plant with outer leaves that are either curly or broad and pale depending on the type. The loose leaves of the Endive plant are eaten and form an important component of the Raw Diet. The leaves tend to be crunchy and bitter and provide dishes like salads and sandwiches with a delicious bite.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Endives

Irrespective of the type of endive, the leaves of the plant are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, thiamin, and potassium. It is also rich in vitamins A and C that provide the antioxidants necessary to help the body fight against diseases such as heart problems and cancers. Endives are chock full of phytochemicals that make the plant an ideal addition to a low-cholesterol, detoxification diet. Endives are also low in saturated fat and contain essential amino acids and fats. High in dietary fiber, endives contain high volumes of vitamin K, vitamin P, folate and panthothenic acid and magnesium and phosphorus. Due to their high water content and their low calorie value (only a negligible 7.5 calories per cup of fresh leaves), they are an ideal part of a weight loss diet.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Endives

Research indicates that adding the leafy greens of endive to your daily diet can have the following positive effects:

  • Lower glucose levels due to the plants high insulin content.
  • Reduce 'bad' or LDL cholesterol levels, as it is high in dietary fiber.
  • Can aid weight loss.
  • Improves skin and keeps the mucus membranes healthy because of the antioxidant value of vitamin A and beta-carotenes present in the plant. The vitamin A in endives also helps improve eyesight and protects the body from certain types of cancers.
  • The vitamin B complex content in endives such as folic acid, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid encourages the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
  • It helps to increase and stimulate the appetite because of the bitter juices from the leaves that improve the secretion of bile.
  • It can be used as a natural diuretic as it consists of nearly 95% water.
  • It could also be used as a mild laxative because of its high content of dietary fiber.
  • People suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders can benefit from endives as it can treat long-term digestive problems caused by starvation and fasting.
  • It smoothens and moisturizes skin as it is a rich source of vitamin E. Eating endives regularly also clears up skin problems such as acne. You can also make a vegetable juice with endive leaves mixed with other fresh vegetable and have this daily to clear your skin.
  • Make a juice of endive leaves, celery and carrot to treat respiratory problems like asthma.
  • Parsley and celery juice with endives added to it can be used to treat anemia.
  • You could treat constipation by mixing endive juice with either apple juice or carrot juice.
  • Blend endive juice with carrot and celery or parsley and spinach juices for an effective treatment for eye problems such as glaucoma or cataract.

Before eating endives, make sure you wash them properly in running water to get rid of any grit or sand. You can also soak the leaves in water with a little apple cider vinegar to get rid of any pesticides. Experts suggest you do not smoke or drink for at least 6 hours after consuming endive leaves as the vitamin A content in the plant may react to the tobacco and alcohol.

Other Uses: Besides consuming endive leaves for salads or in juices, the roots of the plant are often ground and baked and used as a coffee substitute (chicory) or as an additive. Endives are also cultivated as forage crops for livestock in Europe and North America.