Chicory root - a blue flowering plant of the dandelion family, has been used in medicine since ancient Egypt. It is most often roasted, ground and consumed as an alternative to coffee when we need to abstain from caffeine. But that's not all - chicory is a plant that gives a lot to the body and it is good to know it.
It can improve intestinal health
Chicory is one of the best sources of inulin - fiber known for its prebiotic properties. Prebiotics serve as food for the beneficial microbes in the gut - those that are associated with better digestive health, fight inflammation, improve immunity and mood. Prebiotics also increase the absorption of key nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.
Another benefit to the digestion of chicory root is its ability to relieve constipation, a condition that affects up to 30% of the population. One study found that chicory helps improve bowel function, reduce tension and increase bowel movements without causing diarrhea.
It can help regulate blood sugar
Chicory root has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and may work to better control diabetes. In a study in women with type 2 diabetes, one group was given inulin every day and the other was given a placebo. The insulin group has increased levels of antioxidants in the blood, as well as weight loss and HbA1c - a measure to regulate blood sugar.
In addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber, chicory root contains several types of antioxidants, including those known to reduce inflammation and protect arterial function. Animal studies have shown that the antioxidants in chicory protect against liver damage.
A curious fact is that with its earthy, woody taste, dried, ground chicory root is not often used in other recipes. However, as an additive or alternative to coffee, it is important not to overdose. Eating too much chicory can lead to unwanted side effects, including excessive calcium absorption, low blood sugar, menstrual bleeding or, for pregnant women, a risk of miscarriage.
In addition, people allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and other flowers or herbs may develop an allergy to chicory. Finally, chicory is a food that can cause bloating and gas. Therefore, we should consume it with caution or exclude it as an option for irritable bowel syndrome.
In other words, chicory root is not for everyone. But it is an interesting, useful and tasty way to replace caffeine with fiber and add more antioxidants to your daily menu.