Leafy vegetables are amongst the best sources of good nutrition you can get. They are abundant in many essential vitamins and minerals as well as a host of antioxidant phytochemicals.
Leafy vegetables are also one of the best sources of dietary fiber, which many people are increasingly lacking due to the prevalence of mass-produced processed foods.
Common vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage are great, but our limited access and knowledge to just a few staples mean we’re missing out on a plethora of health benefits provided by other lesser-known sources.
In this article, we’re going to look at one of these uncommon veggies, radicchio.
Radicchio is a dark red leafy vegetable with a white stem and veins. It looks similar to certain types of cabbage such as purple cabbage or bok choy if it was red.
It belongs to the chicory family. You may be familiar with the name chicory as an ingredient in instant coffee alternatives.
Radicchio is indigenous to the Mediterranean region where it is grown in several different varieties.
It is also commercially grown in California, where the preferred variety is called Chioggia.
Radicchio packs a strong bitter flavor when consumed raw, the flavor dissipates when it’s cooked with flavorful seasonings.
Its strong, spicy flavor and deep coloration are both indicative of a rich nutrient density.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at radicchio and the benefits of its nutrient profile
Radicchio is an abundant source of antioxidants, its color, as we mentioned is a telltale sign.
Dark red pigmentation in plants is often associated with the presence of antioxidants known as anthocyanins.
Radicchio has an abundance of these of course.
They get to work by limiting the potential damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that come about as the result of metabolic functions, the food we eat and the environment we occupy.
These free radicals damage cell membranes and lead to accelerated tissue degeneration.
This can lead to inflammation and premature signs of aging.
Antioxidants such as the anthocyanins in radicchio can greatly reduce this impact if consumed regularly.
Research evidence is pointing to the potential of radicchio chicory extracts being able to ward off infections and parasites such as roundworm.
The chemical sesquiterpene lactones are concentrated in chicory extract obtained from the vegetable and have been shown to treat intestinal parasites effectively.
More human-based trials are required before fully concluding its efficacy.
Besides getting rid of gut parasites, radicchio has a great effect on promoting good gut health.
Right off the bat, radicchio is an amazing source of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is essential in regular, healthy bowel activity. It promotes gut motility, which basically means it helps you poop better and more healthily.
The other way in which this plant assists digestive function is through the effect of antioxidants that reduce inflammation of the gut.
This reduces the risk of conditions such as IBS and leaky gut syndrome, allowing only the good stuff to be taken up from the digestive system while maintaining its structural and functional integrity.
Radicchio is considered heart-healthy.
The abundance of antioxidants also plays a role here, helping keep the cells and tissues of the cardiovascular system healthy and functional.
Through this, the risk of heart disease and chronic hypertension are greatly reduced.
Chicory extract from radicchio also has the potential to lower the prevalence of LDL cholesterol, considered the bad form of cholesterol as far as your cardiovascular system is concerned
Chicory root extract from radicchio has been shown to have the potential to lower blood glucose levels.
This makes it an important compound to consider when dealing with type 2 diabetes and similar metabolic issues.
By lowering blood glucose, you are improving insulin sensitivity, which benefits your health regardless of your diabetes risk.
The abundance of fiber also contributes to this regulatory effect on blood glucose.
Fiber mediates the uptake of glucose from the gut to your bloodstream, further contributing to a healthy insulin sensitivity
Radicchio is an abundant source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient.
This is good news for your bones because vitamin K improves the uptake of calcium for increased bone mineral density.
The fat-soluble vitamin works in conjunction with vitamin D to this effect.
Radicchio is an amazing leafy vegetable. Its abundance of polyphenolic compounds makes it a top tier health booster, worthy of the unofficial “superfood” title.
It isn’t a common vegetable, so give it a try and see if it works for you.
Always keep your eyes peeled for lesser-known whole foods. Amazing health benefits could be hiding right under your nose