Belgian Endive Benefits: soothes digestion for gallbladder patients

It is said that to find the perfect endive, one cannot leave Brussels and must keep the three requirements of the forced cultivation of the vegetable in mind: humidity, heat, and darkness. The Belgian endive is, in reality, a variety of chicory obtained using forced or artificial growing techniques. In the nineteenth century, Belgian farmers discovered that chicory roots stored in a hot, humid, dark environment produced very tender white sprouts.

Belgian Endive Benefits
The white tenderness of the Belgian endive is the result of depriving it of sunlight. This makes it poorer in vitamins and other nutrients than the green leaves of other varieties of chicory.

Endive Nutritional Facts

Belgian endive has a delightful texture and flavor. As it is an artificially grown plant, it has fewer nutrients and active substances than other chicory varieties, including wild chicory. However, refined Western palates find the white endive more acceptable than different varieties. Belgian endive is 94.5 percent water. Proteins comprise 0.9 percent of its weight, which is significant since this is a fresh vegetable.

Its carbohydrates, the most abundant of which is inulin, do not reach one percent. Its fat content is practically nonexistent (0.1 percent). Taken together, the Belgian endive provides 17 kcal/100 grams, one of the lowest figures of any food. Belgian endive is a good source of folic acid (37 mg/100 grams) and vitamin B1 (thiamin). Vitamin B2, B6, and niacin are also present. It contains minimal vitamin A or C, unlike green-leafed chicory, which is exceptionally rich in these vitamins.

As far as minerals are involved, it contains small amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. It is rich in potassium and contains trace elements of zinc, copper, and manganese. Belgian endives contain the same bitter substances in green chicory but in lower amounts. This is what gives it a slightly bitter taste. These substances act on the liver, increasing bile production (choleretic action) and facilitating gallbladder drainage (cholagogic action). It also serves as an aperitif and a tonic for the stomach and digestive functions.

Belgian Endive Benefits

Belgian endives are helpful in the following cases:

Gallbladder disorders – Due to the presence of calculi or interference of its correct drainage. The valuable action of the bitter elements in the Belgian endive and its fundamental lack of fat makes it very easy to digest.

diabetes spellled out on a small blackboard surrounded by fruits, scale, and stethescope.

Diabetes – Belgian endive is a perfect food for people with diabetes since it contains very few carbohydrates. Those present are primarily formed of fructose (inulin is a polymer of fructose). This most straightforward sugar requires less inulin to be metabolized, contrary to glucose, which needs more. Consequently, it is very well tolerated by people with diabetes.

Experiments with laboratory animals show that Belgian endive extracts slow glucose absorption in the small intestine. Therefore, people with diabetes who eat endives and other foods do not experience sudden increases in blood glucose levels.

Obesity – Belgian endives require a certain amount of chewing and contain very few calories. This makes them very appropriate for weight-loss diets.

Belgian Endive Scientific Facts

  1. Scientific name – Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum
  2. Other names – Witloof, French endive, Endive.
  3. French – Endive.
  4. Spanish – Endivia, achicoria blanca.
  5. German – Chicorée
  6. Description – The leaves of the Belgian endive, a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Compositae. This variety of chicory is derived by sprouting its roots in a dark, hot, humid place.
  7. Environment – Endives are cultivated in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and Canada.

Chicory and Escarole

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a species that has been the source of various edible varieties.

  • The Belgian endive described in this article.
  • Wild chicory – The leaves and roots are used of this quite bitter but very medicinal plant.
  • Leaved chicory or ‘catalogna’ – This is cultivated in Mediterranean countries, mainly Italy. Its dark green leaves are comparable to dandelion. It is pretty bitter and incredibly rich in provitamin A.
  • Radicchio – This type of endive with wine-colored leaves is prevalent in Italy. It is used as any other endive.
Chicory on a plate with tomatoes

The endive belongs to the same genus Cichorium as the Belgian endive, but it constitutes a different species. There are two varieties of endive.

  • Escarole (Cichorium endivia L. var. latifolium),
  • Curly endive (Cichorium endivia L. var. crispum).

Both are rich in provitamin A (205 ug RE/100 grams), folic acid (142 ug/100 grams), and zinc (0.79 ug/100 grams), a trace element that is usually scarce in plant-based foods.

The escarole also contains a bitter element that stimulates the digestive organs and helps drain the gallbladder. In addition to being cholagogic and choleretic, it is mildly diuretic and alkalizing. It is generally eaten in salad and is especially effective in gallbladder disorders and obesity.

How to use and Prepare Belgian Endive

  1. RAW – This is the ideal form to eat them. Seasoned with olive oil and lemon, it is healthful and highly digestible.
  2. COOKED – Either boiled (served with mayonnaise, asparagus) or baked in the oven as a part of various dishes.

REFERENCES

George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 175, 176. Print.

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