Radicchio is a quick-growing leafy vegetable that’s actually a variety of leaf-chicory, and is often used for salads in Italy’s Veneto region. Although radicchio resembles red lettuce or cabbage, its bitter-tasting and wine-red leaves set this vegetable apart from other leafy vegetables.
There are numerous radicchio varieties, named after the Italian regions they originated from. The most common is Choggia, while other notable types include Treviso, an elongated crop that resembles a large Belgian endive or a romaine lettuce heart, and Tardivo and Castelfranco, which both look like flowers and are only available during winter months.
Radicchio Is Highly Rated for Its Health Benefits
The health benefits you can get from radicchio are seemingly endless. For starters, this vegetable provides important vitamins, such as:
B vitamins B1 (thiamin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folic acid): These help replenish the body and metabolize fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Vitamin C:6 Radicchio is abundant in vitamin C that’s known for:
|Improving immune system health||Promoting healing of body cells||Assisting in body detoxification|
|Building up the body’s collagen supply||Supporting development of good gut bacteria||Preventing hardening of the arteries|
|Neutralizing environmental toxins||Fighting diseases||Helping decrease the body’s cholesterol levels|
Vitamin K: This boosts the body’s osteotrophic activity (linked with bone formation and strengthening), improves bone health and limits neuronal damage to the brain when vitamin K levels are well-maintained.
Radicchio is home to minerals like copper, iron and zinc. Also, manganese present in radicchio is utilized as a co-factor for an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase, while potassium aids in counteracting the hypertensive effects of sodium.7 Furthermore, radicchio is a high-fiber vegetable that can:
- Help encourage digestion and colon cleansing
- Fight intestinal worms and parasites
- Induce satiety to make you feel full quicker and longer
- Encourage weight loss
- Assist with maintaining the body’s metabolism
These health-boosting compounds are found in radicchio, too:
Lactucopicrin (intybrin): Apart from being responsible for radicchio’s bitter flavor, lactucopicrin may be effective as an anti-malarial agent, possesses sedative and analgesic effects and may even decrease hunger pains.
Phenolic flavonoid antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein: These carotenoids protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration by filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays.
Phytonutrients lycopene, ellagic acid and quercetin: Phytonutrients assist in regulating blood pressure and reducing amounts of low-density lipoprotein that could cause cancer.
Inulin: This substance could help balance the body’s blood sugar levels and reduce risk for cardiovascular diseases like strokes and/or heart attacks. Furthermore, the combination of inulin and some polysaccharides could stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, and potentially prevent harmful bacteria growth.
Inulin is also known to motivate discharge of pancreatic juices, which could aid with food digestion and blood glucose level control. It also promotes bile production that supports normal cholesterol levels and helps improves heart health and liver health.