Chicory root is the most talked about plant for its caffeine-replacing properties. Ground chicory root is used to make coffee as it contains no caffeine. In fact, it contains many nutritive compounds such as magnesium, vitamins, potassium, folic acid, calcium, iron, and many more. With no hint of caffeine and the exact same flavor of coffee, chicory root is the best substitute for caffeine coffee.
It offers health-promoting benefits for the heart, brain, digestion, metabolism, and the immune system. It acts as a natural remedy for age-related diseases like arthritis and kidney disease. All the credit goes to its powerful antioxidant capacity and plant polyphenols.
With the basic nutritional value out of the way, let’s discuss the science-backed benefits of chicory roots on human health.
1. Chicory Roots Provide Incredible Gastrointestinal Support
Chicory root is well known for its ability to relieve digestive problems. This is due to the good amount of insulin inulin content in chicory roots. A single serving of chicory root is plenty to help fight against all types of gastrointestinal diseases in humans.
That said, a study suggests the inulin improves gut health against obesity, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. A loss of nutritive dietary intake can put you at a higher risk of unabsorbed nutrients which might cause obesity and other diseases.
This study also proves that a versatile diet containing antioxidants, inulin, vitamins, and other nutrients can help control bacterial markers within the body. This instantaneously affects blood glucose levels, insulin production, and metabolic function. (1)
The use of inulin in increased absorption of iron can also help prevent gastrointestinal diseases, a study suggests. A study conducted on piglets proved that a sufficient intake of both iron and inulin, present in chicory roots, improved gastrointestinal tract function and physiological function. (2)
With inulin deficiency in the body, there’s very little iron absorption which has a direct negative impact on digestion. Higher iron and inulin concentration in the colon might decrease digestive acidity in the body.
Key Takeaway: The nutrients present in chicory root such as iron and inulin play a role in enhancing gastrointestinal function. It promotes proper nutrient absorption of iron and protein which reduces bloating, inflammation, and abnormal digestive function.
2. Chicory Roots Are A Great Substitute For Coffee
Do you know how to make chicory coffee? The health benefits of chicory coffee surpass all expectations. It’s considered to be good for fighting bacterial infections, supporting the liver, and fighting against oxidative stress.
I don’t need to tell you the effects of caffeine overdose, especially in adults with a weaker immune system. But I think it’s important to let you know that it can cause extreme alertness and restlessness when consumed in huge amounts. (3)
Having said that, chicory root contains powerful plant polyphenols that offer anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. A study conducted on 25 healthy participants concluded that an intake 300 ml of chicory root coffee on a daily basis decreased blood plasma concentration.
It didn’t have any effect on red blood cells or hematocrit levels which are essential for normal body function. On the other hand, it had a significant impact on reducing inflammatory markers in the body to prevent chronic diseases. (4)
Key Takeaway: Drinking 300 ml of chicory coffee everyday has been proved to be effective in treating inflammation in the bloodstream. It also reduces many types of proinflammatory diseases, bacterial infections, and oxidative stress in the body.
3. Chicory Roots Being A Low-Calorie Plant May Extend Lifespan
Low-calorie diets work in your favor to burn fat faster and strengthen the immune system. Recent studies have shed light on the positive effects of a low-calorie diet on reducing mortality rate in humans.
The metabolism-promoting benefits of chicory root due to its low-calorie count can help alleviate diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
In fact, in an animal study, it was concluded that the opposite diet of overeating is a low-calorie intake which restricts abnormal biochemical changes in the body.
Based on multiple tests, this study showed that calories restriction with the help of low-calorie foods has a more positive effect on metabolism and the immune system than other methods. This suppresses high glucose levels, brings lipid metabolism back to normal, and eliminates gut-microbial abnormalities. (5)
This study is closely related to another study conducted on animals with age-related diseases. The study concluded that a good intake of low-calorie foods can reduce mortality rate and combat chronic symptoms of aging such as memory loss, fragile bones, impaired vision, etc. (6)
Key Takeaway: Calories restriction with the help of low-calorie foods such as chicory root can alleviate the progression of age-related inflammation in humans. It supports both the biological and physiological function in humans.
4. Chicory Roots Contain Powerful Nutrients To Fight Osteoarthritis
Chicory roots have the kind of nutrients that can help treat osteoarthritis.
Being high in fiber and vitamin C, chicory roots fight against knee inflammation and stiff joints. A fiber-rich diet can lower your chances of suffering from painful knees. Osteoarthritis is caused due to noisy and painful knees.
So if you have painful knees, you’re at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis as you get older. That’s why a proper intake of fiber and vitamin-rich diet is essential.
Having said that, a research studied the effects of dietary fiber on knee osteoarthritis. This attributed to its overall bone-strengthening properties. The concluded that people with very low fiber absorption in the body suffered from osteoarthritis. (7)
Additionally, a higher intake of fiber-rich foods, such as chicory root, showed a 30% lower risk of developing osteoarthritis.
The study on vitamin C showed that it plays a role in preventing painful knee osteoarthritis. People who consumed enough vitamin C in their diet showed an 11% lower risk of developing this condition than those who didn’t. (8)
Key Takeaway: Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that can be prevented, treated, and controlled with the help of a healthy diet. Chicory roots contain good amounts of fiber and vitamin C that can potentially decrease progression of painful knee osteoarthritis.
5. Chicory Roots Contain Plant Polyphenols That Prevent Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is caused by two primary reasons. The first is a significant reduction of the body’s antioxidant capacity and an increase in oxidant capacity. The second is a drastic increase in free radicals which leads to oxidative stress.
You can consume sufficient plant polyphenols to treat oxidative stress. This helps prevent the progression of many chronic diseases such as cancer, liver damage, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.
A study on plant polyphenols concluded that it promotes antioxidant stability and protects the immune system against free radical-induced neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes. Once digested in the body, polyphenols are absorbed by colonic microflora and other intestinal enzymes.
This regulates the proper functioning of the digestive system while controlling certain abnormal cell processes that might cause oxidative stress. It is clear the polyphenols protect immune cells against oxidants and hence reduce the severe effects of free radical damage in the body. (9)
On an ending note, the consumption of chicory root for its high plant polyphenols capacity is also directly related to reducing proinflammatory effects of aging in the brain.
Key Takeaway: Chicory roots are good sources of polyphenols that are powerful antioxidants to prolong life span and overall health. They have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Both these factors play a role in fighting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.
6. Chicory Roots Extract Suppresses Liver Damage
Chicory root extracts increase antioxidant capacity to fight hepatotoxicity-induced liver damage in rats. It even measured its powerful oxidative stress-reducing effects in male rats.
This research studied the body weight, hepatic lipid peroxidation, and molecular biomarkers of liver damage in rats. A regular consumption of chicory root extracts showed a significant change in boosting the antioxidant and free radical scavenging enzymes in the liver. (10)
This concludes that chicory root is rich in the kind of antioxidants that have a direct impact on liver health. The extracts supported the prevention of DNA damage caused by oxidative stress.
Another study proved that antioxidants play a role in promoting liver health. A number of antioxidants present in chicory root treat fibrosis and cirrhosis, both play a role in affecting oxidative stress in the liver.
Antioxidants stimulate the proper absorption of nutrients such as protein and fiber in the cells. This leads to reducing pro-oxidants count and reduces protein damage in the body. By decreasing the serious effects of liver damage, other factors such as DNA damage, production of cytokines, and reduction of epithelial cells prevented. (11)
Key Takeaway: Chicory roots may be beneficial for improving liver health. Due to its high antioxidant capacity, it reduces inflammation, cytokines, and oxidative stress in the liver.
7. Chicory Root Boosts Glucose And Lipid Metabolism In The Body
A research conducted to test the effects of chicory root on glucose and lipid metabolism concluded that chicory roots have favorable antihyperglycemic and antidyslipidemic effects on human health. (12)
These two factors play a role in affecting type 2 diabetes in humans. (13)
This controlled study took into account, 47 healthy individuals. A regular consumption of chicory root extracts for 4 weeks concluded that chicory root decreases high levels of lipid metabolism and improves overall bowel movements. This also prevents the development of diabetes in most humans.
People who digested chicory root extracts had better chances of fighting against hypertension and high LDL cholesterol levels too. This creates an effective foundation for fighting heart-related diseases.
While all these studies were positive, there was plenty of evidence on chicory root intake for both unhealthy and healthy adults. Compared to other foods, including coffee, the positive effects of chicory root extracts is directly associated with insulin production, glucose metabolism, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Key Takeaway: Chicory roots have several powerful properties that may benefit the heart and metabolic system. It prevents abnormal glucose and insulin levels while protecting against lipid metabolism in the body.
8. Chicory Roots Act As A Laxative To Prevent Chronic Constipation
There are a variety of foods that make great substitutes to laxative supplements to treat constipation. One of them is chicory root.
Using natural laxatives as a way to treat constipation can prevent the side-effects of laxative supplements in the body. These side-effects include inflammation, abnormal kidney and liver function, and dehydration. (14)
That said, chicory roots play a major role in relieving constipation due to its high inulin and fiber content.
The intake of dietary fiber is directly associated with improved gut health, fat metabolism, and proper immune function. It is also proved that fiber prevents accumulation of hard stools and eases the defecation process through the intestines. This prevents chronic constipation in most adults. (15)
This same study concludes that fiber effects gastrointestinal health by making stools softer and is more effective than laxative supplements for proper excretion of bacterial mass from the body.
Inulin, on the other hand, prevents constipation in elderly adults by improving bowel motor function. It increases fecal bacteria which is essential for proper defecation in adults. (16)
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies revealed that chicory root plays a role in the treatment of constipation in adults. It improves quality of stools and stimulates proper intestinal response to reducing defecation difficulties.
9. Chicory Roots Are An Excellent Source Of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is commonly referred to as pyridoxine, which is a healthful compound for healthy nerve function, metabolism, and skin. Studies suggest that vitamin B6 also plays a role in detecting bacterial infections in the body.
To put into simple words, your body needs high vitamin B6 levels to determine bacterial infections such as food poisoning, malaria, and meningitis. The body’s immune cells, with the help of vitamin B6, trigger the body to fight against such bacterial infections. (17)
This research also concluded that the body’s MAIT cells use vitamin synthesis to trigger the immune system against bacteria and yeast infections. The folic acid present in chicory root also help alleviate bacterial infections in the body. It protects the inner linings of the intestines, mouth, and lungs.
On the other hand, a vitamin B6 deficiency in the body can mood swings, muscle swelling, fatigue, and worsen symptoms anemia. (18)
To improve levels of vitamin B6 in your diet, a daily consumption of 1.3 mg is considered normal for people below the age of 50. For people older than 50, a daily consumption of 1.7 mg is essential.
Key Takeaway: Chicory roots contain good amounts of vitamin B6 to prevent vitamin deficiency in the body. It plays a major role in defending the immune system against bacterial and yeast infections in the lungs, mouth, and other sensitive parts of the body.
10. The Prebiotics In Chicory Roots Strengthen The Immune System
Prebiotics are a form of fiber compound, but non-digestible in nature. Once digested, they pass through the digestive tract and break down in the colon with the help of the gut microflora. They have very similar health-promoting benefits like dietary fiber.
Higher intake of prebiotics, present in chicory roots, offers better digestive health, lower oxidative stress, and lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes. (19)
Moving forward, a research studied the positive effects of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics on the human body. The result suggested that prebiotics has a significantly positive health effect on the body’s immunological functions such as autoimmune diseases, infections, and brain health. (20)
People with metabolic syndrome or bacterial strain can benefit from chicory roots consumption. It positively affects the epithelial cells, T regulatory cells, and natural killer T cells. All of these cells are important for proper regulation of the immune system.
Another study claims that prebiotics help reduce cytokines in the body. Cytokines are proinflammatory markers that directly affect the immune system to deteriorate. This can cause a host of chronic diseases including cancer. (21)
Key Takeaway: Prebiotics are known for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Most studies conclude that increasing prebiotics intake can have a direct effect on the body’s immune system.
Discover 6 Amazing Chicory Root Recipes
The bitter taste of certain types of vegetables is not appreciated by most people. But at the same time, this particular flavor does an excellent job at balancing the sourness, saltiness, and sweetness of food. And one such vegetable is chicory roots.
The leafy greens are used to prepare all kinds of dishes, and not just coffee. Since they’re green and leafy, they are a perfect fit for salad mixes too. But there’s more, so let’s find out!
1. Sautéed Chicory Roots Salad
First, let’s learn how to prepare that perfect bright-colored sautéed chicory roots salad that everybody keeps talking about.
1 onion or 2 shallots, sliced
1 head of leaf chicory
1 head of frisée
2 heads of Belgian endive
2 tbsp of minced garlic
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 oz of grated cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup of prunes, chopped
1/4 tsp of sea salt
1/3 cup of unsalted toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes or black pepper, freshly ground
Before beginning the cooking process, discard all the browned or wilted outer coverings of frisée, radicchio, and endive. Separate the remaining leaves of the veggies from their core before washing them in a mixture that contains a little bit of distilled vinegar and water. Then rinse the leaves using fresh water. Dry them on a cloth towel while blotting each one with a paper towel.
Once the leaves are washed, rinsed, cleaned, and dried, it’s time to chop them. Make sure to keep the dense parts of the leaves away from the tender, delicate colored portions. This should give you several piles of chopped leaves.
Now it’s time to cook. Take a skillet, pour oil in it and place it over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots. Sauté them for about 30 seconds before bringing in the white part of the chicory roots. Cook these until they become tender, which should not take more than 5 minutes. Following which add prunes and stir the whole thing for a minute.
You can add the colored parts at this point. Then stir the leaves until they start to wilt, this will take another minute.
After that, turn off the heat before adding the seasoning and walnuts. Fold the walnuts gently into the sautéed dish and transfer the ingredients to a salad serving dish. And that’s about it!
2. Chicory Gratin
This recipe is nothing but a simple yet rustic dish for family gatherings. And you can always eliminate the ham to transform it into a vegetarian meal.
2 pinches of sea salt
1 tbsp of lemon juice
6 peppercorns, the white ones
4 heads of yellow chicory
1 tbsp of sugar
2 stalks of Swiss chard with leaves, chopped
10g of unsalted butter
For cheese sauce:
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
450ml of whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
35g of unsalted butter
A pinch of white pepper, freshly ground
25g of plain flour
100g of finely grated Comté cheese
50g of finely grated Comté cheese
4 slices of cooked ham
First, let’s prepare the chicory. Take a saucepan and pour some water in it along with adding peppercorns, salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Place the pan on medium heat. Then cover it with a baking paper sheet and lid. Boil the solution, then simmer it for an hour. Cooking the chicory slowly helps in eliminating the leafy vegetable’s bitter taste.
Then place the chicory on the wire rack. Let it drain as well as cool. Once that happens, gently press to get rid of any excessive moisture. You can use your tea towel for this purpose.
Soon after, preheat your microwave to 190 degrees Celsius.
Now it’s time to prepare the chard. For that, place butter and 100ml of water on a saucepan over high heat. Cook the Swiss chard stalks for at least 20 minutes. During this time, you can add water if required.
Once they become tender, lift the stalks to replace them with leaves. Now you can cook them in that same saucepan with water for 3-5 minutes. Following which strain the leaves before mixing them with the stalks in a gratin dish.
In the meantime, prepare the cheese sauce. Use another saucepan for this. Place it over medium heat to melt butter. Then add flour and whisk it properly until it becomes smooth in texture. Cook the paste for a while or until it turns nutty in color. Once that happens, turn off the heat.
Now it’s time to bring in the milk. Whisk it thoroughly before turning on the heat back again. Cook the mixture for 4-5 minutes. Make sure that you keep stirring it in order to thicken the sauce.
Then bring in the mustard and cheese and cook it for another 3 minutes. Once the cheese melts completely, turn off the heat. You can add the seasoning now.
Finally, it’s time to assemble the whole dish. Place one head of chicory on each slice of ham, which you will have to fold in half. Pack all the slices in your gratin dish over the chard. Spread the cheese sauce and sprinkle the leftover cheese. You can bake this for 30 minutes until it turns golden brown in color. And there you have it, your chicory gratin is ready to surprise the taste buds of your family members or loved ones.
3. Chicory Roots Latte
You know what’s better than coffee? Chicory latte! So let’s learn how to make it right away!
2 dates, pitted
2 cups water
1 tbsp of dandelion root, roasted
1 tbsp of chicory root, roasted
2 tbsp of butter
Fresh nutmeg (powder or nut)
Place the dandelion and chicory roots in a pot filled with water.
Boil the solution, then simmer it on low heat for about 2 minutes. Following which turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for at least 10 minutes.
Now it’s time to strain the drink and transfer it into the blender with butter and dates. Blend the mix for a minute.
Grate that fresh nutmeg to enjoy your delicious cup of chicory latte.
4. Dill and Salmon Chicory Boats
There’s nothing more simple, quick, and appetizing to make than these dill and salmon boats with chicory roots.
8-3/4 ounces of smoked salmon or gravlax, thinly sliced
3 tbsp of fresh dill
2 tsp of honey
16 leaves of large chicory
4 tbsp of Dijon mustard
4 large radishes, trimmed and sliced
1 small cucumber, seeded and finely diced
Whisk together honey and mustard. Add the dill with smoked salmon and diced cucumber. And don’t forget the seasoning at this point.
Overlap the chicory leaves in order to create 8 boats. Fill each with the cucumber and smoked salmon mixture. Then garnish all of them with the remaining ingredients. Finally, it’s time to serve these boats with sliced radishes.
5. Chicory Cinnamon Spice Tea
For those who enjoy tea more than coffee! A cup of chicory roots tea with a cinnamon-spice twist provides your body with all kinds of health benefits. Plus, it’s a pretty delightful and refreshing drink to add to your daily diet.
1 cup of water
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tbsp of coconut oil, organic
2 tsp of ground chicory root
Place the cinnamon stick and chicory root in your tea kettle.
Boil a cup of water and pour it over the cinnamon stick and chicory root. Cover this and let it steep for not more than 4-5 minutes.
Then transfer this brewed tea into a blender along with coconut oil. Blend the mixture on high power for at least 30 seconds. And now all you need to do is enjoy the tea.
6. Chicory and Pesto Prawn Toast
Prawn toast gets a makeover with crispy chicory and perfect pesto along with a touch of delicious nutmeg.
For prawn toast:
8 slices of multigrain bread
2 egg whites
300g of peeled prawns
Some vegetable oil
Fresh grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, the latter freshly ground
2 tbsp of oil, the roasted hazelnut type
1 roughly chopped green chilli
1 clove of garlic
A big bunch of coriander
100ml of olive oil
1 tbsp of grated Parmesan
60g of walnuts
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp of olive oil
2 heads of chicory, with roots removed as well as leaves separated
Let’s prepare the toast first. Pulse the peeled prawns in your food processor or blender with hazelnut oil, seasoning, nutmeg, and egg whites. The paste should become smooth before you spread it on bread slices.
Heat a pan with vegetable oil. Gently fry the prawn toast until it becomes golden brown in color on both the sides. You can drain the toast on any kitchen paper.
Now it’s time to prepare the pesto. Combine all the ingredients except olive oil. Place them in the blender. Pour half the amount of olive oil to make sure that the paste becomes consistently smooth. Feel free to add more oil if required.
For serving the whole dish, place the chicory root leaves in a bowl. Mix lemon juice and oil in another bowl. Add seasoning to this before pouring the dressing on top of the leaves. Toss them properly to make sure that each leaf is coated completely.
You can now trim the prawn toast into small pieces. All that’s left to do is place them together with the chicory leaves and pesto on a serving plate.
Wrapping It Up
Chicory root is the perfect laxative, plant-based antioxidant, and power inulin for better digestion, immune response, and metabolism. It has more gastrointestinal-enhancing benefits than other supplements. Plus, it makes a great substitute for coffee!
You will also find that chicory roots are very simple to cook and offer a unique flavor to a variety of dishes. Since chicory root is a plant-based starch, it relieves bloating, acid reflux, constipation, and cramps. Speaking about cramps, let’s not forget it also helps prevent PMS cramps, thanks to its powerful prebiotic properties.
There’s so much to look forward to with chicory roots. Use it in coffee, tea, or salads, and you can treat bacterial infections such as malaria, jaundice, and yeast. It’s possible that you’ll love its pleasant, yet strong coffee essence to such an extent that you’ll forget caffeine for good!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.