Endives are leafy vegetables belonging to the chicory leaves family and contain several unique qualities.
The common ones found in our local markets and supermarkets are known as the ‘Belgian endive’ that go for Rwf 500 to 1,000 apiece, depending on the size.
Endives can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw, endives are crisp, making them a great addition to a salad.
Nutritionists say that this leafy green vegetable is rich in several nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and fibre.
It has also been linked to many potential health benefits, including improved digestion, better bone strength, enhanced liver function and healthy weight loss.
All endive varieties are excellent sources of calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, thiamine, and potassium.
Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association, Kigali, says endive is also rich in vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and selenium.
Also, he says, endive is low in calories and fat and has high fibre content.
“This leafy vegetable is also loaded with antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help neutralise free radicals to prevent cell damage and chronic disease,” he says.
Studies show that endive is a great source of fibre, supplying nearly one gram in each 1/2-cup serving.
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist and dietician at King Faisal Hospital, says getting enough fibre in your diet is essential when it comes to supporting digestive health and promoting regularity.
This, he explains, is because fibre moves slowly through the gastrointestinal tract, pushing food and materials along to keep things running smoothly.
The nutritionist says that research shows that fibre could help protect against several digestive disorders as well, including constipation, haemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, and diverticulitis.
According to studies, endive is a great source of vitamin K, cramming approximately 72 per cent of one’s daily needs for this key fat-soluble vitamin into each 1/2-cup serving.
Tabaro says vitamin K plays a central role in bone health and bone metabolism.
“It also increases levels of a specific protein that helps increase calcium levels in the bones to boost bone strength,” he says.
Several studies have found that upping your intake of vitamin K could help reduce the risk of fractures and bone loss.
Musengimana says this vegetable is low in calories but overflowing with nutrients, making it a great addition to any weight loss diet.
He notes that it’s especially high in fibre and that high fibre food helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, stabilising blood sugar levels to curb cravings and ward off hunger — therefore, prevents one from eating frequently.
Make it part of your diet
There are plenty of options for how to incorporate this leafy green into your weekly meal rotation.
Nutrition experts note that one of the most popular uses is to slice it into strips and mix it into your favourite salad recipes.
Alternatively, one can even swap it in for other leafy greens like spinach or kale for an easy substitute.
Besides, it’s advisable for one to also use other varieties interchangeably depending on what they prefer.
Aside from that, there are also several different options for cooking endive, these include; steaming, baking, and roasting.