Health Benefits of Chicory Root

The root has antioxidant properties, can help promote gut health, and more.

Though you may have heard about using plant roots like licorice root, you may be less familiar with chicory root. The chicory root, a blue flowering plant in the dandelion family, has been used medicinally since ancient Egypt.

Chicory root—Cichorium intybus—boasts potential health benefits like blood sugar regulation and antioxidant content. It is often roasted, ground, and consumed as a caffeine-free coffee alternative. Other parts of the chicory plant can be used in foods as well.

Benefits of Chicory Root

If you're interested in trying chicory root, here are some of its possible benefits.

May Improve Gut Health

Chicory is one of the top sources of inulin, a fiber known for its prebiotic properties. In a nutshell, prebiotics serve as food for beneficial microbes in the gut—microbes that are tied to better digestive health, anti-inflammation, immunity, and mood. Prebiotics also boost the absorption of key nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.

Chicory root can relieve constipation, a condition affecting up to 30% of the population. In one study, chicory helped:

  • Improve bowel function
  • Reduce straining
  • Increase stool frequency without resulting in diarrhea

Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar

Chicory root has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels and may improve diabetes control. In one study of women with type 2 diabetes, one group was given inulin daily, and the other a placebo. The insulin group experienced increased blood antioxidant levels and reductions in weight and HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar regulation.

Nutrition of Chicory Root

For chicory root, half of a cup contains:

  • Calories: 32 calories
  • Fat: <1 gram
  • Sodium: 22.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Fiber: <1 gram
  • Protein: <1 gram

Also, a number of minerals can be found in chicory root, including calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, and potassium. Chicory root also contains antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help decrease the risk of heart disease and cancers. They also can be protective against cognitive decline.

Risks of Chicory Root

If you're allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and other flowers or herbs in the Asteraceae family of plants, chicory could be an issue. Because it's in the same family, it's possible that you could also be allergic to the root.

Additionally, chicory is a high FODMAP food because of its inulin content. Inulin is associated with fructans, which are carbs that consistently trigger symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. So if you have IBS, it may trigger bloating and gas.

What Does FODMAP Mean?

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are food-based carbs that are hard for the small intestine to absorb.

Tips for Consuming Chicory Root

Fresh chicory root isn't commonly found in the US. However, if you manage to find it, there are various ways to enjoy it, such as:

  • Boiling and serving it with sour cream or sauces made with herbs
  • Frying it with butter
  • Cutting it into cubes to be used as soup flavoring
  • Preparing and serving it like asparagus
  • Adding it to soups, salads, and meat-based dishes

Ground chicory root is famously blended with coffee in New Orleans. With its earthy or woody flavor, dried, ground chicory root isn't commonly used in other recipes. If you try it to add to coffee or as a replacement, just be sure not to overdo it.

Consuming Other Parts of the Chicory Plant

Other parts of the chicory plant are also edible. Both leaves and flowers can be added to salads. Leaves can also be prepared alone, fried, boiled, and used as a spice or in soups or sauces. Flowers may also be added to fish dishes or used as meat dish decorations. Chicory root extract is also used in dietary supplements and dairy products.

A Quick Review

Chicory root comes from a plant in the same family as dandelions and marigolds. The root can have health benefits like blood sugar regulation and contains fiber that can be helpful for digestion. It also has antioxidant properties.

Chicory root may be an interesting way to boost fiber and curb caffeine without sacrificing your overall intake of antioxidants. However, the root isn't for everyone, as it can cause allergic reactions or gas and bloating for some individuals.

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  4. Pourghassem Gargari B, Dehghan P, Aliasgharzadeh A, Asghari Jafar-abadi M. Effects of high performance inulin supplementation on glycemic control and antioxidant status in women with type 2 diabetesDiabetes Metab J. 2013;37(2):140. doi:10.4093/dmj.2013.37.2.140

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Chicory roots, raw.

  6. Sinkovič L, Jamnik P, Korošec M, Vidrih R, Meglič V. In-vitro and in-vivo antioxidant assays of chicory plants (Cichorium intybus L.) as influenced by organic and conventional fertilisersBMC Plant Biology. 2020;20(1):36. doi:10.1186/s12870-020-2256-2

  7. Ochoa KC, Samant S, Liu A, et al. In vitro efficacy of targeted fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols enzymatic digestion in a high-fidelity simulated gastrointestinal environmentGastro Hep Advances. 2023;2(3):283-290. doi:10.1016/j.gastha.2022.10.011

  8. MedlinePlus. Low FODMAP diet.

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