Radicchio is also called Italian or red chicory. It has crisp leaves, ideal for those who live a crunch, and a combination of sweet and bitter taste. Lactucopicrin (intybin), a sesquiterpene lactone, makes it bitter, and which is a potent antimalarial agent and has a sedative and analgesic (painkiller) effect. It has a reddish color, and traditionally that has been linked to health benefits of cleansing the blood and improving circulation. Remember that bitter taste has benefits – it stimulates your digestive tract and it stimulates bile, which can help decrease cholesterol. We are not used to bitters in the US culinary tradition, and it is an acquired taste, so if you try it the first time and you feel a little worried about how bitter it may taste, remember that it supports your gut, including the productions of bile, and you can prepare it in such a way that extra flavors are added to it, while you can still enjoy its benefits. It is great as a salad or in soups and is traditionally used as a winter salad green. It can also be braised and grilled in olive oil! It also has its use as poultry stuffing, as part of tapenade, and in Italy it is served with a pasta, of course.
Radicchio is has a 95% water content and only 7.5 calories per cup, if anyone is counting. Because of its high fiber content, it will keep you full longer and thus help you lose some weight. It is a great source of carotenes and may be helpful for insomnia because it can purify blood. It contains selenium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, B-vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, an important nutrient in bone and might even limit neuronal damage in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease. It also contains phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect us from age-related macular disease by filtering harmful ultraviolet rays. Radicchio contains inulin, an indigestible fiber that is a preferred fuel for good gut bacteria while it also helps regulate blood glucose. Its fiber also cleans up the colon. Did you know that the root of radicchio contains volatile oils that may be able to eliminate intestinal worms? The whole plant contains them, but the root has the highest concentration of them.
It is best to consume radicchio soon after purchase as it increases in bitterness with age. If you would like to store it, you can store it no longer than 3 days in the back of the vegetable crisper, ideally at 38°F, after you wrap it in a dry paper towel and put inside a plastic bag.
Enjoy this Radicchio Salad recipe! Looking for more recipes with functional nutrition benefits? Follow me on Pinterest!
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