Radicchio and Warfarin

Publication Date: 
Mon, 09/12/2016
By: Alere Staff

A vegetable that can be found in the market during the winter months is the red-leafed Italian radicchio. Sometimes mistaken for red cabbage or lettuce, radicchio is a chicory, a close relation to the Belgian endive.1 While they can range in color from green to red, they are well-known for their dark, burgundy-red leaves and white ribs. All radicchio varieties have tender yet firm leaves and a slightly bitter, slightly spicy flavor.1,2

Radicchio has been around for quite a long time. Ancient Romans believed that eating radicchio was good for insomnia and for purifying the blood.1 However, the radicchio plant has evolved since the Roman empire thanks to the work of Belgian agronomist Francesco Van Den Borre. Using a process called imbianchimento, the leaves of the radicchio became the darker wine-red color and developed the more bitter taste people recognize today.1

Radicchio Health Benefits

People enjoy radicchio in a variety of different ways. The red-purple leaves can be used in salads, on sandwiches and burgers, grilled, sautéed and even within pasta and risotto. Being a seasonal vegetable that appears in late November and throughout the winter months, it is said that it is tastiest after the frosts begin.1 If you can manage the bitterness, radicchio is a healthy choice containing a variety of vitamins and minerals. The list includes: beta carotene, riboflavin, vitamin C and E, folate, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.3 Chicory plants are also known to contain non-digestible complex carbohydrates called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). These are known to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.3

Despite its red color, patients on an anticoagulant like warfarin will need to be aware of radicchio. The vegetable is packed with vitamins including vitamin K. A single average leaf (approximately eight grams) contains a medium value of 20.4 milligrams of vitamin K. One whole cup of radicchio, raw and shredded, contains a higher value of 102.1 milligrams of vitamin K.4

The best way to manage your vitamin K intake is consistency. However, seasonal fruits and vegetables, like radicchio, can make it a bit difficult to keep track. Let your managing physician know if you plan on making any changes to your diet or if there are seasonal foods that you enjoy. 

References:

  1. Phillips, K. All About Radicchio (Radicchio Rosso). AboutFood. Feb 28, 2016. Retrieved from the website: http://italianfood.about.com/od/ingredientstechniques/fl/All-About-Radicchio-Radicchio-Rosso.htm.
  2. Food http://www.foodterms.com/encyclopedia/radicchio/index.html.
  3. Berkeley Wellness. Endive and Chicory: A Beginner’s Guide. February 26, 2016. Retrieved from the website: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/endive-and-chicory-leafy-nutrition-and-flavor.
  4. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current:  September 2015, slightly revised May 2016.  Internet:  http://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/ndl.