Radicchio Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Radicchio, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Radicchio is a bright red, leafy vegetable closely related to chicory. As such, it is sometimes referred to as red chicory or red endive. This low-calorie food is also low in sodium while supplying a large amount of vitamin K.

Radicchio is often used in Italian cooking and commonly added to salads or paired with crumbled cheese, dried fruits, and nuts. It has a spicy bitter taste when raw that becomes a bit milder when cooked.

Radicchio Nutrition Facts

One cup of raw radicchio (40g) provides 9.2 calories, 0.6g of protein, 1.8g of carbohydrates, and 0.1g of fat. Radicchio is an excellent source of vitamin K, also providing decent amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 9.2
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 8.8mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.8g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Sugars: 0.2g
  • Protein: 0.6g
  • Vitamin K: 102mcg
  • Vitamin C: 3.2mg
  • Vitamin E: 0.9mg
  • Potassium: 121mg

Carbs

Radicchio is low in carbohydrates, at less than two grams per cup of shredded leaves. Roughly 0.4 grams of these carbs are in the form of fiber and 0.2 grams are naturally occurring sugars.

There are few published reports regarding the glycemic index of radicchio. However, non-starchy vegetables such as radicchio are often low-glycemic. The American Diabetes Association promotes radicchio as part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes.

Fats

You'll get less than a gram of fat (0.1 grams, to be exact) in a one-cup serving of radicchio. However, the preparation method matters. If you sauté the vegetable in olive oil, for instance, you'll increase the amount of fat in the dish is a whole.

Protein

Each cup of radicchio provides 0.6 grams of protein. As a comparison, this is the same amount of protein in one cup of chopped endive.

Vitamins and Minerals

Radicchio is an excellent source of vitamin K at 102 mcg per serving. This is roughly 112% of the daily adequate intake for adult females and about 85% of the daily adequate intake for adult males.

Radicchio also provides a smaller portion of your daily recommended intake of potassium (121 mg), vitamin C (3.2 mg), and vitamin E (0.9 mg). You'll find trace amounts of other nutrients as well, such as phosphorus, zinc, and a few of the B vitamins.

Calories

Add a cup of shredded radicchio to your meal and you're only adding 9.2 calories. That makes this food a good option, even if you're counting calories.

Summary

Radicchio is a low-calorie food that packs a huge vitamin K punch. It is also low in carbs and sodium, making it easy to fit into most any healthy diet.

Health Benefits

The vitamins and minerals in radicchio provide several important benefits. Here are a few to consider.

Aids in Blood Clotting

Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble nutrient, as it helps with blood clotting functions. Certain populations are at risk for lower levels of this key vitamin. This includes people with malabsorption syndromes, some gastrointestinal disorders, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Boosts Bone Health

Vitamin K is also important for bone health. Research connects adequate intake with the prevention of bone fractures, while inadequate intake is associated with an increased risk of bone-based conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Improves Immune Function

The small amount of vitamin C in radicchio also provides certain health benefits. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant by protecting your cells from free-radical damage which, in addition to potentially preventing disease, also helps to improve immune function.

Increases Iron Absorption

Vitamin C serves another valuable purpose: to help your body better absorb and metabolize iron. Iron is important for getting oxygen to the body's tissues and also supports muscle metabolism, physical growth, and neurological development.

Reduces Disease Risk

Although radicchio doesn't supply a large amount of potassium (121 mg per cup), it still contributes to your daily intake. Getting enough potassium in your diet can reduce your risk of major medical conditions, including hypertension, stroke, and possibly type 2 diabetes.

Allergies

Though allergies to leafy greens aren't common, they can still occur. There are also reports of people with birch pollen allergies experiencing symptoms when exposed to chicory (which is related to radicchio), resulting in birch pollen-associated oral allergy syndrome.

If you are unsure about an allergy to radicchio, seek personalized advice from your healthcare provider. They can help diagnose a food allergy.

Adverse Effects

Since vitamin K affects blood clotting, people who are taking blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin) need to be careful to not consume too much. If you take this type of medication, work with your doctor to learn your recommended intake levels.

Consuming a consistent amount of vitamin K each day can help your healthcare provider determine the proper dosage of your blood-thinning medications based on the foods you normally eat.

Varieties

There are more than 30 different kinds of radicchio that vary in terms of size, color, and whether the head is loose or firm. The heads can be different shapes as well, ranging from elongated to cylindrical to round.

Radicchio di Chioggia is the most common variety of radicchio. It is spherical, has red leaves and white veins, and has an intensely bitter flavor. Other varieties include Radicchio di Treviso, which has a tangy taste and is good when grilled, and Radicchio di Castelfranco, which has a creamier taste that is best for salads.

When It's Best

Radicchio is harvested in both the summer and fall/winter, and the time of harvest can affect its flavor. If it is harvested in the summer, it will tend to have a nutty, bitter taste while radicchio harvested in the fall/winter is milder and even a bit sweet.

Look for radicchio with a bright color, firm leaves, and no browning on the leaves. A compact head is also a good sign that the radicchio is fresh. If the leaves lack color, are limp, or damaged, choose a different head.

Storage and Food Safety

Place the radicchio in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it, as this vegetable keeps best in cold environments. Some people store it in the crisper, with other leafy greens. You can also put radicchio in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap, or in a sealed plastic bag with a paper towel inside.

The paper towel helps to absorb the moisture from the leaves so the radicchio stays fresh and crunchy. Not washing it until you're ready to use it also keeps the moisture low. Radicchio should last for about 3 to 5 days and doesn't freeze well, so only buy the amount that you plan to use.

How to Prepare

Many people eat radicchio in spring mix blends. It is often one of the greens included in pre-mixed salads.

If you've tried radicchio in a salad and don't care for its strong, bitter taste, there are still ways to include it in your diet. You can mellow the sharp taste of radicchio by cooking it, for instance. Both grilling and sautéing help soften the flavor.

Some people roast radicchio with balsamic vinegar or olive oil until it is tender, then sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Experiment with your radicchio a bit to see which method (and flavors) you prefer most.

Recipes

Healthy Radicchio Recipes to Try

Use radicchio in place of in addition to other salad greens in recipes like these.

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15 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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