What is Chicory Root? Why It’s So Good for You

posted by Chris Valentine

Have you ever heard of chicory root? Chicory root has many surprising health benefits and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Learn more here.

Are you trying to lose weight, improve your gut health, or replace coffee in your diet? Chicory root is a natural, multi-purpose ingredient that people have used for centuries.

This isn’t a fad like the celery juice detox. It’s a real solution to some of your health problems.

There are tons of benefits to consuming chicory root in your daily diet. Besides helping you lose weight it can help prevent major diseases. And, it even tastes good!

Interested in learning more about chicory root and its benefits? Keep reading!

What is Chicory Root?

Chicory is a common perennial herb grown in Europe. It’s part of the dandelion family, Asteraceae, and has bright blue petals.

Today, it’s also grown in North America, China, and Australia. Its name is sometimes wrongly given to chives, although the species are very different.

The root below the chicory is commonly consumed as an additive to foods and as a replacement for coffee. It has a woody, herbal flavor. You can consume the petals in salads, but most of the nutritional benefits are in the roots.

The History of Chicory Root

Historians can trace chicory root to ancient Egypt as well as 19th century France. It’s believed that the Dutch introduced the French to this root as a coffee substitute in 1801.

By 1835, France was exporting 1.25 million pounds of the root.

They created coffee plantations in Haiti and Cuba and shipped them into the New Orleans port. By the time the American Civil War broke out, Union naval blockades shut off the New Orleans port, blocking America’s access to coffee.

It was then that Americans discovered the use of chicory root in coffee substitutes. Today, chicory in coffee is still a staple at most New Orleans cafes and restaurants.

The Benefits of Chicory Root 

There are tons of chicory root benefits that may make you want to try adding it to your diet. The most popular right now is its ability to help you lose weight.

1. Weight Loss

Chicory root contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that contains sugar chains. What makes it special is that although it contains sugar chains, it doesn’t behave like sugar. Your body doesn’t digest it, so the sugar doesn’t enter your bloodstream.

Instead of getting digested, it gets converted into short-chain fatty acids. Chicory root is quite low in calories. It won’t increase your calorie intake by much and nourishes your digestive system.

Chicory root and its inulin contents can reduce appetite and hunger without reducing energy levels. It helps those looking to lose weight consume fewer calories.

2. Digestive Health

For a functional digestive system, you need a balance of bacteria and other microbes. Too few gut bacteria can cause excessive gas, indigestion, and stomach diseases.

Inulin helps to balance the number of good bacteria in the digestive system.

People who are low in good bacteria can eat chicory root to increase the good bacteria in their system. It will also help relieve constipation and make bowel movements more regular.

3. Preventing Colon Cancer

Inflammation in the colon can lead to sicknesses, disease, and colon cancer. The more you reduce inflammation, the better your odds of preventing colon cancer are.

One study showed that consuming inulin reduced the number of precancerous colon growths in animals. This could also apply to humans, but more research needs to occur.

4. Preventing Heart Attack

Your arteries need “good cholesterol” to pick up all the other cholesterol in the bloodstream and send them to the liver for disposal.

HDL is the good cholesterol. LDL, the bad cholesterol, can build up in your arteries and turn into plaque. This can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Inulin from chicory root increases your level of HDL and decreases your level of LDL, preventing plaque build-up and possible stroke or heart attack.

Possible Side Effects 

Not every person should start eating chicory root. Always speak to your doctor before adding a new supplement or natural herb into your diet.

Chicory root might stimulate menstruation, so it’s not recommended for pregnant women as that could cause a miscarriage. Likewise, it’s not recommended for women who are breastfeeding since the risks in transference are unknown.

If you’re allergic to dandelion or other plants in the family, you may also be allergic to chicory root. For some, skin irritation occurs when the root touches their skin. Inhaling the root powder can sometimes trigger asthma attacks.

Consider getting an allergy test before consuming it. The FDA considers chicory root and inulin safe when consumed in the typical doses found in food.

How to Consume 

The most popular way to consume chicory root is in your morning coffee. You can buy ground roasted chicory root to add to your coffee grounds. Some also brew the root grinds without coffee, although you won’t get your caffeine fix.

If you buy the root raw, you can roast it in your oven at home. Then, grind it in a mortar and pestle or cut into pieces to add to your coffee.

Another way to consume chicory root is to boil it in hot water. Use the water to make broths for soup or eat the roasted or boiled root like a vegetable. You can also boil and eat the leaves of the chicory plant.

You can add the ground chicory root to baking recipes. Consider making energy balls, granola bars, or oatmeal squares with the ground root.

Interested in Improving Your Health Through Your Diet?

For centuries, people have been healing their minds and bodies with their diets. Natural herbs and plants contain many amazing health benefits.

Chicory root is one of those herbs that can do wonders for your gut health. It can also help you lose weight and protect you from stroke and heart attack.

For more information on improving your health, check out the Wellness section of the blog.

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