The red pigments of radicchio
compounds to protect our
hearts, and compounds to
help prevent blood clots.
Tightly-packed heads of radicchio, sometimes known as Italian chicory, have a strong, slightly bitter flavor that can lift a mixed leaf salad and provide contrasting color. The astringent taste awakens the palate and promotes the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which aids digestion. Radicchio is rich in phenolic compounds, such as quercetin glycosides, which help prevent precancerous substances from causing damage in the body, and anthocyanins, which help protect against both cancer and heart disease. The total phenolic content in red forms of radicchio is about 4–5 times higher than in green varieties. Radicchio also contains good levels of vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
- Acts as a digestive aid.
- Contains high levels of cancer-blocking compounds.
- Protection against heart disease.
- Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health.
Look for firm heads with crisp, colorful leaves and no signs of wilting or browning. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days. Although usually served raw in salads, radicchio heads can be quartered, basted with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning, and lightly broiled or baked. It can also be sautéed in oil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
DID YOU KNOW?
The two most commonly available types of red radicchio are Verona, with a small, loose head, burgundy leaves, and white ribs, and Treviso, which has a tighter, more tapered head and leaves that are narrower and more pointed.