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Blog Nutrition Escarole Benefits: How To Use This Italian Vegetable For Better Health

Escarole Benefits: How To Use This Italian Vegetable For Better Health

While escarole is a well known vegetable in Italian cooking, it is not quite so popular with many other people around the world. Despite it being an Italian secret, this vegetable is a nutrient powerhouse that everyone should consider adding to their diets. In today’s article we are going to explore escarole benefits, calories and nutritional profile to help convince you why you should make some space in your fridge crisper box – or even your kitchen garden – for this vegetable.

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What Is Escarole?

Also known as broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, Batavian endive, or scarole, and this leafy green vegetable is a part of the chicory plant family. Other vegetables in this family include radicchio, frisée and curly endive.

Pronounced as “ES-ka-roll”, this leafy green can usually be found in grocery stores alongside other better known veggies such as kale and lettuce. Due to it’s similar look to butterhead lettuce leaves, most people often confuse the difference between these two greens. However, the similarities among these greens ends here.

Those who consume this Bavarian endive regularly state that upon a closer look, escarole leaves are wider and their edges are curlier and more jagged than the leaves of lettuce are. They also differ in taste, especially because the Batavian endive outer leaves are dark green, chewy, and bitter while the inner leaves are often a little on the yellow side, sweeter and more tender.

According to Healthline, while this plant is native to the West Indies, it is now grown and enjoyed globally.

escarole benefits

What Is Escarole Nutrition Profile?

Here are the escarole nutrition facts according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Please note that this data is for 1 cup (150 g) of boiled and drained escarole – with no salt (7):

  • Calories – 22.5 kcal
  • Protein – 1.72 g
  • Total fats – 0.27 g
  • Carbs – 4.6 g
  • Fiber – 4.2 g
  • Calcium – 69 mg
  • Magnesium – 19.5 mg
  • Potassium – 368 mg
  • Sodium – 28.5 mg
  • Fluoride – 10 µg
  • Vitamin C – 4.95 µg
  • Folate – 117 µg
  • Choline – 23.1 mg
  • Vitamin A – 114 µg RAE (as beta carotene)
  • Vitamin K – 318 µg
  • Cholesterol – 0 mg
  • Phosphorus – 33 mg

This leafy green also has small amounts of other nutrients such as Niacin, amino acids, Pantothenic acid (vitamin b5) vitamin E, manganese, thiamin, vitamin B6, copper, riboflavin, zinc, and iron (7).

Read More: Purple Cabbage Benefits: 7 Reasons Why This Colorful Veggie Should Be On Your Plate

escarole benefits

What Are The Escarole Benefits?

Now that you understand the nutritional profile of this leafy green, what are the health benefits of escarole?

  • Low In Calories

Like all non-starchy vegetables, escarole has a very small calorie count which makes it the perfect addition to any meal. You can consume large volumes of it without significantly increasing your calorie intake for the day.

  • Escarole Benefits: Rich In Fiber

Fiber is an integral part of every healthy diet. Not only does it help keep your bowel movements healthy and regular, but for anyone looking to lose weight, it helps keep you full longer, thus preventing you from overindulging and  interfering with your calorie deficit diet.

  • Rich In Nutrients

What this vegetable lacks in calorie count it makes up for in vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutrients and their functions in the body include

Vitamin K – I t helps the blood clot and is used in the building of bones.

Beta Carotene (precursor to vitamin A) – Helps with good eye health and vision as well as healthy skin and mucous membranes.

Potassium – It helps with nerve function, enables your muscles contract, keeps your heart beating regularly, and helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells.

Calcium – It may be known for its function in building strong bones, but it also helps your muscles move, your blood clot, and ensures that your nerves carry messages between your brain and other body parts.

Folate – In pregnant women it is essential for the formation of the fetus’ neural tube, which will become the central nervous system. In all people, it helps tissues grow and cells work, assists with the formation of new red blood cells, and works with vitamins B12 and others to break down, use, and create new proteins.

Choline – Helps with the formation of cell membranes and aids communication between neurons.

Sodium – Too much sodium is a bad thing and has been linked to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. With that being said, we still need some sodium in the body. In the right amounts it helps control blood pressure and assists the nerves and muscles to work well.

escarole benefits

  • Escarole Benefits: It Is Cholesterol And Nearly Saturated-Fat Free

The condition of too much cholesterol in the body has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. It also leads to the buildup of plaque in arteries which can clog them and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

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FAQs

How Many Calories In Escarole Soup?

This is hard to say. The amount of calories in any meal, snack, or food is determined by how many ingredients go into making the food. Even in terms of soup, some recipes call for simple and basic ingredients while some more hearty options will call for more things to be added to the pot.

So basically, how many calories in escarole soup depends on how you make it and what you put into it. Here are two examples to illustrate this:

Option One

Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 large chopped onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 pound of chopped escarole (about 454 g), 1 tbsp lemon juice, 4 cups chicken stock, 28.35 g parmesan cheese, 227 g pasta, salt and pepper to taste, (Optional extra parmesan cheese for serving)

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Calories for 1 serving: 421. Fats: 13 g. Protein: 18 g. Carbs: 58 g.

Get recipe directions from Erren’s Kitchen (6).

vegetable

Option Two

Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 minced garlic cloves, 6 cups vegetable broth, 400 g can of chickpeas, 3/4 cup ditalini pasta, 1/4 tsp pepper flakes, 1 pound chopped escarole (about 5 cups), 1 tbsp lemon juice

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Calories for 1 serving: 184. Fats: 3.5 g. Protein: 5.9 g. Carbs: 26.9 g.

Get recipe directions from Connoisseurus Veg (5).

Option Three

Ingredients: 411 g can of chopped stewed tomatoes, 396 g fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast, 2 cups coarsely chopped escarole, 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

This recipe serves 4 people.

Calories for 1 serving: 118. Fats: 4 g. Protein: 13.5 g. Carbs: 7.9 g.

Get directions from My Recipes (2).

Read More: Bok Choy: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, Calories, And Side Effects

Option Four

Ingredients: 5 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup uncooked white rice, 4 cups coarsely chopped escarole, 3 large eggs, 2 to 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Calories for 1 serving: 270. Fats: 7 g. Protein: 15 g. Carbs: 35 g.

Get directions from Cooking NY Times (9).

As you can see from the above four recipe options, calories in escarole soup are largely determined not by these vegetables but by all the other ingredients added to the pot to make this simple meal come together. If you’re wondering which soup option to give a try first, go with the option that best suits your taste buds and calorie intake allocation for the day.

escarole benefits

Escarole Vs Kale Nutrition: Which One Is Healthier?

Just like spinach and lettuce, escarole and kale are two leafy greens that are praised for their nutritional value. According to Taste Essence, kale is one of the vegetables that can easily be substituted for escarole in cooking. Other escarole substitutes include arugula, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, frisée, and radicchio.

But how do they vary in terms of nutritional profile? The table below outlines the nutritional facts of 100 g of both kale and escarole – boiled without salt (7, 8):

Kale Escarole
Calories 36 kcal 15 kcal
Protein 2.94 g 1.51 g
Fats 1.21 g 0.18 g
Carbs 5.3 g 3.07 g
Fiber 4 g 2.8 g
Calcium 150 mg 46 mg
Potassium 144 mg 245 mg
Vitamin A (RAE) 146 µg 94 µg
Vitamin K 418 µg 212 µg
Iron 0.84 mg 0.72 mg
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From the table above, it is easy to see that kale contributes slightly more calories and nutrients than escarole.  However, both are great low-calorie additions that can provide a lot of nutritional benefits to your meal. So try them both.

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escarole benefits

What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Escarole?

From the above escarole health benefits, it’s easy to see why this vegetable is a favourite, especially as an ingredient in Italian wedding soup. But does it have any side effects?

Thankfully, just like all other leafy greens this Italian vegetable does not have any known side effects for healthy people. However, some precautions are advised:

  • Blood Thinner Medication

1 cup of boiled escarole has 318 µg of vitamin K.

Vitamin K helps your blood clot. Blood thinner medications work to make your blood clot slowly. A lot of leafy greens are high in vitamin K and thus patients taking anticoagulant medications are asked to avoid them, or at least to keep their intake consistent from day to day. Highly variable vitamin K intake while on blood thinners can be dangerous as vitamin K reduces the effectiveness of blood thinners which can lead to issues such as blood clots, stroke, and even death (1, 10). Talk to your doctor about vitamin K intake while on blood thinners.

  • High Oxalate Content

Leafy greens are some of the foods that are high in oxalates. Too much oxalic acid in the body can lead to kidney stones in people who are prone to oxalate kidney stones. Oxalates are also known to reduce how much calcium is absorbed by the body (3).

To reduce how much oxalic acid to consume with every bite of this vegetable, you are advised to cook it first – preferably via boiling. A review published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published in 2005 stated that boiling vegetables reduces their soluble oxalate content by 30 to 87 percent. Steaming reduces this number by 5 to 53 percent (4).

escarole benefits

How To Get The Most Escarole Health Benefits In Food

According to Spruce Eats and Eating Well, this vegetable does not need a lot of preparation when it comes to cooking and consuming it. Some ways to prepare and enjoy its health benefits include

  • Make a soup – The four recipes above show you not only how versatile this vegetable is, but also how well it pairs with other foods.
  • Make a salad – Salads are the easiest meals to make and also the fastest ways to get more vegetables in your diet. The inner leaves of this vegetable are often preferred by many for their salad, but if you enjoy bitter greens, the outer crunchier leaves could also work too. You are advised to mix them with milder tasting veggies – like romaine lettuce – to balance out the bitterness.
  • Saute it and use it as a side dish just as you would with collard greens.

The Bottom Line

From the above list, we see that escarole benefits make this leafy green a must add to your next grocery list. Escarole is great for anyone looking to expand their palate, lose weight, or even stay healthy by adding more leafy vegetables to their diet. In terms of side effects, we would ask that anyone of anticoagulant medication to first speak to their doctor to understand if and how they can have these two together.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Avoidance of Vitamin K-Rich Foods Is Common among Warfarin Users and Translates into Lower Usual Vitamin K Intakes (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Chicken-Escarole Soup (2009, myrecipes.com)
  3. Dependence of oxalate absorption on the daily calcium intake (2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Effect of different cooking methods on vegetable oxalate content (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. ESCAROLE SOUP (2020, connoisseurusveg.com)
  6. Escarole Soup (2021, errenskitchen.com)
  7. Escarole, cooked, boiled, drained, no salt added (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
  8. Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
  9. Lemony Egg Soup With Escarole (n.d., cooking.nytimes.com)
  10. The use of vitamin K in patients on anticoagulant therapy: a practical guide (2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

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