Discovering the properties of radicchio: when bitter is good

Discovering the properties of radicchio: when bitter is good

Very light and easily digestible food, radicchio is the perfect fruit and vegetable product for anyone suffering from anemia or high cholesterol, as it is able to bring “improvements” to organisms with particular vitamin or iron deficiencies.

Vegetables, as we know, contain important components and have fundamental properties to ensure our well-being. Belonging to this prodigious food family, radicchio is certainly not an exception. In fact, a very light and easily digestible food, radicchio is the perfect fruit and vegetable product for anyone suffering from anemia or high cholesterol, as it is able to make “improvements” to organisms with particular vitamin or iron deficiencies, due to its Constitution rich in vitamins A, B and K. In fact, if consumed regularly, it is an excellent anti-anemia remedy and the presence of calcium promotes bone metabolism, while protein K helps blood clotting and the formation of new bone tissue , as well as increasing bone density itself. Contains antioxidants, which protect the eyes from age-related diseases. Radicchio is particularly recommended for those suffering from type II diabetes, as it contains inulin, which regulates blood sugar, and fiber, which retains the sugars present in the blood. Its consumption can also solve annoying intestinal problems, reducing gas, keeping the colon healthy and promoting the growth of intestinal flora. Excellent for those with delicate health problems, radicchio among the many properties also has that of being able to strengthen the immune defenses thanks to the rich content of vitamin C. It is also claimed that, when consumed fresh, radicchio also has analgesic properties, which heals the ‘insomnia thanks to anthocyanins, which are also useful for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, and which purifies the blood. Finally, thanks to its low caloric intake, it is considered the food indicated for a slimming diet and for controlled diets, as it controls the stimulus of hunger and leads to a great sense of satiety soon.

Radicchio: a bit of history and curiosity

Radicchio is a vegetable that belongs to the composite family, specifically to that of Asteraceae and Chicorium. The name ‘radicchio’ derives from the Latin radicola, which means root and which indicates chicory with red and variegated leaves. For many centuries, radicchio has always and only been the symbol of the food of the poor, but in reality its beneficial qualities have already been recognized since the age of the Greeks and Romans. In fact, Pliny the Elder, in his work Naturalis Historia, mentions its benefits for the purification of the blood and lists it as an assured remedy for insomnia. Later, these properties were indeed confirmed, and many others related to its fortunate and rich composition were found. As for the varieties of radicchio present in Italy, there are three specifically: the red radicchio of Treviso, the white radicchio of Castelfranco and the green or variegated radicchio of Chioggia (green with red veins). Although the plant is believed to have oriental origins, this aspect is slightly hazy. In fact, the first traces of the cultivation of radicchio on the Italian territory date back to the 16th century, right in the Treviso area. While it can be said that green radicchio can be assimilated to Belgian endive, white radicchio is less known, a round and head-shaped radicchio like the one from Treviso but with white ribs and leaves, able to withstand low temperatures. We can identify different properties and benefits that distinguish in particular the red radicchio of Treviso and the green radicchio, due to the different concentration of vitamins and antioxidants, which are also responsible for the slight change in taste and color.

Properties of Treviso red radicchio

Even used by the ancient Egyptians for liver treatment, blood purification and to treat gallbladder problems, red radicchio in Italy is grown mainly in the Veneto and Treviso. Treviso red radicchio is a variety of chicory and is a purely autumn and winter vegetable. There are two variants: it can be early, that is harvested in the months of September and October, and therefore characterized by a sweeter flavor; or late, harvested in the months of December, January or February and with a more bitter taste. 92-94% of red radicchio is composed of water and is rich in fibers; contains vitamins A, B1 and B2 and high levels of potassium and anthocyanins, water-soluble vegetable pigments from which some of the most beneficial properties of red radicchio derive:

  • anti-inflammatory properties: anthocyanins inhibit the enzymes involved in the synthesis of inflammation media;
  • diuretic properties: potassium promotes diuresis, counteracting the opposite action of sodium which instead draws water and causes water retention;
  • beneficial properties for blood vessels: anthocyanins also inhibit the action of enzymes that deal with the demolition of elastin and collagen fibers, which make up the structure of the vascular epithelium; in addition, vitamin C acts as a precursor for the construction and strengthening of vessels.


Properties of green radicchio (variegated from Castelfranco)

This particular variety of radicchio appeared in Italy only in the eighteenth century and is believed to have originated from the cross between the endive with lettuce leaves and the late Treviso red radicchio. In fact, we can identify characteristics similar to both, as it has the same leaf shape as the first, thick and large, and the second takes the color of the size and the predisposition to aging. During the first phase of the cultural cycle, it has leaves of a well-defined green color, but later acquires light red shades that make it, precisely, variegated. In addition, during bleaching, you can also switch from green to cream. Its cultivation, due to its low resistance to low temperatures, is more difficult than the others, but its benefits are comparable to those of other varieties, as it is also rich in calcium and vitamin A. derive are:

  • safeguard of sight: vitamin A plays an important role for the retina for the vision mechanism;
  • calcium replenishment: it is a valid source of calcium, which is naturally positive for the bone structure, which is considerably strengthened


The benefits of radicchio

Radicchio is one of the lightest vegetables but richest in beneficial components found in nature. In fact, it consists mainly of water, is rich in antioxidants and fiber, low in calories (23 calories per 100 grams of product). Wanting to be more specific, in percentages we find:

  • 93% water
  • 3% protein
  • 9% sugars
  • 5% fat


In addition, other components are:

  • Vitamins A, group B, C, E, K.
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • selenium
  • zinc
  • copper
  • manganese


Consuming radicchio can only bring benefits, although many argue that in the long run it can lead to some colitis problems. Being completely gluten-free, it is also recommended for celiacs and the recipes that see radicchio as the protagonist are countless, including risottos, salads and fillings. Therefore, capable of capturing even the sweet tooth thanks to the chicoric acid that gives it that much sought-after bitter taste, taking it in sufficient quantity to take advantage of all the benefits it provides, consuming it regularly, shouldn’t be a problem at all. When bitterness and taste become allies of health, everything becomes more pleasant and you can feel better, with pleasure.