Escarole, though perhaps not as widely recognized as kale or spinach, is a highly nutritious leafy green vegetable.
Within this article, we explore some of the benefits that escarole offers and delve into its complete nutritional profile.
What Is Escarole?
Escarole, a leafy green vegetable, falls under the chicory genus of plants, which is part of the wider Asteraceae plant family (1).
As a type of endive, it bears a strong resemblance to a vegetable called curly endive. Escarole and curly endive are the two main varieties of endive.
The key distinctions between escarole and curly endive lie in their taste and appearance. Escarole boasts a milder taste and features smooth, flat leaves instead of the curlier foliage seen in its counterpart.
Scientifically known as Cichorium endivia var. latifolia, it is thought to have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and India (1).
As a popular and versatile vegetable, escarole finds its way into a diverse variety of dishes, including salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews.
What Benefits Does Escarole Have?
Here is a look at five primary health benefits of escarole.
1) Escarole is Nutrient-Rich
First of all, it is worth noting that escarole provides good quantities of numerous vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, it achieves this while also being very low in calories.
In essence, it presents an impressive array of nutrients for each serving and per calorie.
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin A, RAE
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
It is also worth noting that certain nutrients are found in significantly higher quantities than 5% of the daily value.
2) High In Fiber
While “whole grains” are most commonly associated with fiber, many foods contain high amounts of it.
In contrast to whole grains, escarole stands out as a very low-calorie fiber source. Interestingly, the majority of calories in escarole come from fiber.
Per every 150-gram cup of cooked escarole, it delivers 4.2 grams of fiber out of a total 4.6 grams of carbohydrate (2).
Fiber offers a multitude of health benefits, playing crucial roles in:
- Digestive health: Promoting regular bowel movements (4, 5).
- Promoting microbiota health: The beneficial bacteria that reside in the digestive system feed on dietary fiber and ferment it into short-chain fatty acids (6).
- Blood sugar regulation: Delaying the absorption of simple carbohydrates, thus preventing blood sugar spikes (7).
- Cardiovascular health: Binding to cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus lowering the amount absorbed into the bloodstream (8).
- Satiety: There is some evidence that fiber can help to promote satiety. Satiety refers to the feeling of satisfaction after eating, without an urge to eat more food (9).
3) A Significant Source of Vitamin K
In this regard, escarole stands out as one of the most prominent dietary sources of vitamin K. A mere 150-gram cup of cooked escarole supplies 318 mcg of vitamin K, amounting to 265% of the daily value (2, 3).
4) High In Polyphenols and Other Phytochemicals
Among these polyphenols, escarole contains particularly high levels of flavonols (13).
5) Folate Provision
Folate is an essential mineral that we need to obtain from our diet for its vital functions. These functions encompass DNA synthesis, red blood cell formulation, and its ability to regulate homocysteine levels (16, 17, 18).
Full Nutrition Facts
Here is the comprehensive nutritional profile of cooked escarole per 150-gram cup for your reference. The source of all nutritional data is the USDA’s FoodData Central (2).
The percent daily values have been calculated by using the USDA data along with the FDA’s daily values (3).
|Name||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Water content||141 g|
As the table illustrates, escarole is mainly a source of fibrous carbohydrate. However, it also contains a small amount of protein.
|Vitamin||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Folate, DFE||117 mcg||29.3%|
|Vitamin A, RAE||141 mcg||15.7%|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin)||0.09 mg||7.5%|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.09 mg||6.9%|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||0.47 mg||2.9%|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||1.24 mg||24.8%|
|Vitamin B6||0.02 mg||1.2%|
|Vitamin B12||0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin C||4.95 mg||5.5%|
|Vitamin D||0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin E||0.60 mg||4%|
|Vitamin K||318 mcg||265%|
Offering a broad range of vitamins, escarole is particularly high in vitamin A, folate, B5, and vitamin K.
|Mineral||Amount||% Daily Value|
Escarole provides a good quantity of several essential minerals. Among these, it offers high levels of copper, manganese, and zinc.
Does Escarole Have Any Downsides?
Escarole generally offers a net benefit for most individuals who incorporate it into their diets.
However, it contains relatively high levels of oxalate (oxalic acid). For those susceptible to kidney stones, high-oxalate foods can potentially contribute to kidney stone formation by forming crystals when binding with calcium in the body (23).
According to the Medical College of Wisconsin, a 100-gram serving of escarole contains 31 mg of oxalate. They also advise against consuming foods with over 50 mg of oxalate per 100 mg for those following a low-oxalate diet aimed at kidney stone prevention, while recommending moderation for foods containing 5-50 mg (24).
Another consideration is the slightly bitter taste of escarole, which may not appeal to some individuals. However, bitterness in greens is relatively common and isn’t unique to escarole.
To mitigate the perceived bitterness, cooking escarole, combining it with other ingredients, and utilizing seasonings can be beneficial.
For those averse to bitter flavors, it may be worth looking into sweet potato leaves. These are considered to be one of the mildest leafy green vegetables.
How To Use Escarole
Similar to other leafy greens, escarole offers versatile culinary uses. Here are some of the simplest ways to use it:
- Sauteed greens: Cooking with escarole is relatively easy, and sauteing the vegetable is a quick process. Simply chop the escarole into small strips and saute it in a little oil for approximately 5 minutes. When it softens, it’s ready. Saute for slightly longer if desiring greater tenderness.
- In soups and stews: Escarole is a straightforward soup ingredient; add the chopped vegetable into a soup (or stew) for about 10-15 minutes. Once again, adjust the time if you prefer a higher level of tenderness.
- Salad greens: Escarole is suitable for raw consumption and it works well in a salad. Mix it with other leafy greens, chopped tomatoes and your choice of salad vegetables. Add a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a tasty side salad.
- Stir-fries: Just like sauteing, you can include chopped escarole in a stir-fry. Cook for 5-10 minutes based on the desired tenderness level.
Fresh escarole can be stored in the refrigerator for up to around 7 days, but its freshness is better preserved when used sooner.
Be attentive to any ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates on the escarole’s packaging. Furthermore, with fresh produce, it is always important to inspect the food for any signs of spoilage to ensure the vegetable’s freshness.
As with several other leafy green vegetables, escarole is packed with essential nutrients for very few calories. Notably, it’s an outstanding source of fiber, folate, and vitamin K.
Escarole is also highly versatile, making it an excellent dietary choice for those who enjoy its taste.