15 Whole Foods That Start With E

Looking for an extensive list of foods that start with the letter E? 

Look no further, we’ve got you covered!

Browse this list of 15 foods that start with E to get some new cooking inspiration, learn more about where each food comes from, and understand the health benefits of each food.

Let’s dive in!

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Closeup of steamed whole edamame pods

1. Edamame

Edamame is the Japanese name for soybeans that have been harvested before they’re fully grown, while still young and soft (1, 2).

They’re typically left in their fuzzy, bright green pods, which are meant to be removed before eating.

One cup of cooked, shelled edamame provides a whopping 19 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 458 mcg (115% DV) of folate, and 45 mcg (38% DV) of vitamin K (3, 4).

Edamame are also rich source of isoflavones, a group of plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects and may protect against cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer (5, 6

In the United States, edamame is sold in the freezer section at most grocery stores, either shelled or in pods.

To prepare edamame pods, steam or microwave them for 3-5 minutes, then sprinkle with salt and serve as a snack or appetizer.

To enjoy whole edamame, run the pod between your front teeth to pop out the inner beans, then discard the pod.

Shelled edamame makes a great addition to soups, salads, stir fries, fried rice, and noodle dishes.

Smoked eel filets on a white plate with lettuce

2. Eel

Eels are long, snakelike fish with smooth, scaleless skin and firm, white meat that tastes slightly sweet.

They are commonly eaten in Japan, where they are referred to as unagi (freshwater eel) and anago (saltwater eel), as well as Europe.

One ounce of cooked eel meat provides 5 grams of protein, 225 mcg (25% DV) vitamin A RAE, and 6 mcg (30% DV) vitamin D (7).

Raw eel blood actually contains a poison (called ichthyohemotoxin) that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even death in some cases. These toxins are deactivated by cooking (8, 9).

Unfortunately, freshwater eels are critically endangered due to overfishing (10, 11). The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch considers certain sources of farmed American eel (Anguilla rostrata) to be good, sustainable alternatives (12).

Depending on your location, you may be able to find fresh eel at your local fish market, but it can also be purchased frozen or smoked online.

Freshwater eel can be baked, stewed, or grilled, while saltwater eel (which has tougher meat) is best suited for soups and stews. 

Whole eggplant sliced into cross sections on white background

3. Eggplant

Eggplants (also called aubergines) are a type of vegetable that belong to the Solanaceae (nightshade family), along with tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes (13, 14).

They vary in color, size, and shape, but the most common type in the United States is large and pear-shaped with smooth, dark purple skin.

Purple eggplants are very high in anthocyanins, a group of plant pigments that act as antioxidants and may help protect against cancer (15, 16, 17, 18).

The flesh of the eggplant can sometimes taste bitter (especially if overripe). To draw out some of the bitterness (and moisture), simply sprinkle sliced eggplant with a generous amount of salt, then let sit for about 30 minutes and rinse with water before cooking.

Eggplant tastes delicious breaded and fried, roasted with olive oil, or cooked and pureed with tahini to make baba ganoush, a Mediterranean dip.

6 eggs in a carton on a wooden background with one egg cracked open to see the yolk

4. Eggs

Eggs are one of the most affordable sources of protein, with 6 grams in a single large egg (19, 20). 

At 169 mg (31% DV) per egg, they are also one of the best sources of choline, an essential nutrient that is needed for proper liver, muscle, and brain functioning (20, 21, 22). 

In the past, it was thought that eggs might increase cardiovascular disease risk because they are high in cholesterol (23). 

However, newer research shows that eating eggs does NOT increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death (24, 25).

Eating up to 3 eggs per day may even improve cardiovascular disease markers by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and converting “bad” LDL cholesterol particles to a larger, less dangerous form (26). 

Pastured eggs (from pasture-raised chickens) contain higher amounts of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, but conventional eggs are still perfectly healthy (27, 28).

Eggs can be boiled, poached, fried, baked, scrambled, and even microwaved. Use them to make omelets, frittatas, eggs benedict, egg salad, and more!

5. Einkorn

Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) is an ancient species of wheat that originated approximately 12,000 years ago in the Near East (29).

Compared to modern wheat (Triticum aestivum), the gluten found in einkorn has a slightly different structure and may be less likely to trigger the immune system, but more research is needed (30, 31).

Einkorn is NOT safe for people with celiac disease, but people with gluten sensitivity may find they can tolerate it (32).

Ancient grains are generally higher in protein and other nutrients than common wheat. One half cup of cooked einkorn wheat berries contains 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, as well as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron (33, 34). 

You can purchase einkorn wheat berries, flour, or pasta at some grocery stores and health food stores, or online.

Einkorn wheat berries make a great addition to salads and grain bowls, while the flour can be used in place of all-purpose flour to make bread, cookies, pizza crust, and other baked goods.

A bottle of elderberry syrup on a wooden table, with fresh elderberries in the background

6. Elderberry

Elderberries are small, purple-black berries produced by the elder tree, found mainly in Europe and North America (35).

They have a tart, bitter flavor and should always be cooked before eating in order to destroy sambunigrin, a toxin found in raw or unripe elderberries (35, 36). 

In the gastrointestinal tract, sambunigrin gets converted to cyanide (a poison) that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even death if consumed in large enough amounts (35, 37). 

One cup of raw elderberries contains 10 grams (36% DV) of fiber, 406 mg (9% DV) of potassium, and 52 mg (58% DV) vitamin C (4, 38). 

Consuming elderberry products (including syrups and gummies) may reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms, but more research is needed (39).

Make elderberry syrup by simmering dried elderberries in water for 30-45 minutes, then straining out the berries and mixing the remaining liquid with honey. Store leftover syrup in a glass jar in the fridge and use or freeze within 3 months.

You can also use fresh or frozen elderberries to make jellies, jams, pancakes, pies, and even gummies.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find fresh elderberries at your local orchard. If not, frozen and dried berries can be purchased online and at some health food stores.

Extra large elephant garlic clasped in hands with moody lighting

7. Elephant garlic

Despite its name and appearance, elephant garlic is actually more closely related to leeks than to garlic (40).

It looks nearly identical to garlic but is much larger — about the size of an onion — and has a milder, more onion-like flavor.

Similar to garlic, elephant garlic is rich in sulfur-containing compounds, which help lower inflammation and protect against chronic diseases (40, 41, 42).

Elephant garlic can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores.

It’s a great choice for anyone who finds regular garlic to be too intense and can be used in any recipes that call for garlic, such as soups, mashed potatoes, and dips.

Elk burger with crispy onions on a white plate.

8. Elk

Elk belong to the Cervidae family, along with deer, caribou, and moose, and are native to North America (43, 44).

They are similar to deer but can grow to be much larger, weighing between 500 and 800 pounds, and taller (5 feet at the shoulder).

The flavor of elk meat is often compared to beef, and it doesn’t have the characteristic “gamey” taste that accompanies venison (deer meat).

One 3-ounce serving of cooked elk meat provides 23 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat, along with a good amount of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 (45).

Elk meat availability varies depending on where you live. Check out your local farms and specialty butcher shops, or order online from exotic meat stores.

Ground elk is perfect for making burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, and chili. Elk steaks can simply be marinated and grilled, or pan-seared and finished in the oven.

9. Emu

The emu is a flightless bird native to Australia and found in many other countries throughout the world (46).

It is considered the second largest bird (after the ostrich), growing to be 6 feet tall and 100 pounds (46

Emu meat is dark red (much like beef and other red meat) because it contains higher amounts of myoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein found in muscle (46). 

One 3-ounce serving of cooked emu provides 27 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat, as well as 3.9 mg (22% DV) of iron, 2.7 mg (25% DV) of zinc, and 8 mcg (333% DV) of vitamin B12 (47).

You can purchase emu meat online from exotic meat stores, or locally from specialty butcher shops (depending on your location).

Because it has a similar flavor, ground emu can be used as a beef replacement in burgers, chili, and many other dishes. 

Whole heads of endive on a cutting board with a knife.

10. Endive

In the United States, the term “endive” typically refers to Belgian endive, a tightly wrapped cylindrical head of bitter, pale yellow lettuce that grows to be about 6 inches long.

It belongs to the Chichorium (or chicory) family, which also includes other bitter lettuces, like escarole, frisée, and radicchio.

Endives are especially high in vitamin K, with 116 mcg (97% DV) per cup (4, 48). This nutrient is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation (49).

Whole endives are available year-round at most grocery stores, but fall and winter are the peak seasons.

One of the most popular uses for them is to separate the boat-shaped leaves and fill each one with a few tablespoons of salad (chicken salad, fruit salad, etc.) as an appetizer.

You can also prepare whole endives by sautéeing with butter or brushing the leaves with vinaigrette and baking or grilling.

Bundle of enoki or golden needle mushrooms on a wooden slab.

11. Enoki mushroom

Enoki mushrooms, also known as golden needle mushrooms, are an edible mushroom that is very popular in Asian cuisine (50).

They are long, thin, and white (almost stringy) with a very mild flavor and a firm, slightly crunchy texture (51).

These unique mushrooms are rich in fiber and low in calories and carbohydrates, making them a great choice for anyone following low-carb or keto diets (52).

Look for this fantastic fungi in the refrigerated areas of the produce section — they typically come in a plastic bag or a styrofoam container wrapped in plastic.

They can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked in stir-fries, noodle dishes, omelets, and soups. 

Fresh bunch of epazote on wooden background

12. Epazote

Epazote (pronounced “eh-pah-ZOH-teh”), also called Mexican tea or wormseed, is an herb native to South America (53, 54).

It has bright green leaves with jagged edges and a pungent, almost medicinal flavor that can be an acquired taste. 

Many people have reported that epazote helps improve digestion and reduces gas, but there haven’t been any studies at this point.

Dried epazote can be purchased from Latin markets and online. Fresh leaves can also be found at Latin markets, or you can consider growing your own.

Use fresh or dried epazote to add flavor to black beans, soups or stews, scrambled eggs, and quesadillas. The dried leaves can also be steeped in boiling water to make tea.

Bowl of escargot in shells with garlic butter and serving fork.

13. Escargot

Escargot is the French word for snail, and is considered a delicacy in France, where it is often served as an hors d’oeuvre.

The most commonly consumed species of snail is Helix pomatia (also called the Roman snail or Burgundy snail), a large, edible land snail (55).

A single serving (one ounce) of cooked snails provides 5 grams of protein, along with a good amount of magnesium (20% DV), selenium (17% DV), and iron (7% DV) (4, 56).

Most grocery stores carry canned escargots (without the shell), but you can also buy them with their shells online.

Traditionally, escargots are sautéed in butter with shallots and garlic, then return to their shells, topped with parsley butter, and served with toast (57).

Two fresh heads of escarole on a white background.

14. Escarole

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable, closely related to the Belgian endive, that is popular in Italian cuisine.

It has dark outer leaves that are bitter and chewy, with lighter-colored inner leaves that have a slightly sweet and less bitter flavor.

One cup of cooked escarole provides 280 mcg (233% DV) of vitamin K, 103 mcg (26% DV), and 138 RAE (15% DV) of vitamin A (4, 58).

Escarole can be difficult to find, but it may be available at some grocery stores, health food stores, and farmers’ markets.

The outer leaves are best suited for sautéing or adding to soups and stews, while the inner leaves can be left raw, chopped, and added to salads. The heads can also be halved and grilled for an exciting twist.

Seven raw red espelette peppers on a white background

15. Espelette pepper

The Espelette pepper (also called “Piment d’Espelette”) originated in Central and South America but is now grown primarily in the Basque region of France.

It is considered a mild pepper, measuring 500-4,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, a system that evaluates the spiciness of peppers and other foods (59).

When fresh, it tastes slightly fruity and makes a great addition to salsas, salads, stir-fries, pastas, and chilis.

Dried espelette pepper is often compared to smoked paprika, because it has a similar smoky, sweet flavor that can be used to season vegetables and cooked meats.

Fresh espelette peppers are difficult to find outside of France. However, they are available dried and ground online and at specialty spice stores.

Summary

From edamame to espelette pepper, there are plenty of delicious foods that start with the letter E.

We hope this list has inspired you to be adventurous and try some new foods, or to gain a new appreciation for some of the foods you already eat every day. 

Comment below to let us know which of these foods are your favorites, and how you use them in the kitchen!

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