Whether you’re looking for ways to enhance your diet or want to try something new, chicory root might already be on your radar. This versatile ingredient has been used for centuries in a variety of ways, and there may well be a reason for you to include it in your meal plans too.
Below, we’ve got the low-down on all the chicory root benefits and how you could include it in your diet. Remember, not all supplements are right for everyone, so think before you change up your routine. Talk to your doctor if you have any worries.
What is chicory root?
This ingredient comes from the chicory plant or Cichorium intybus
. It’s a blue flowering plant and a member of the dandelion family, which grows across North America and parts of Europe. We tend to use only the root, although the leaves can be dried to be used as a bitter herb in cooking. In fact, chicory root has been cultivated for centuries for its taste and reported health benefits, possibly going back to Ancient Egypt.
Chicory has a bitter taste, which means we don’t usually eat it by itself. However, the root can be roasted, ground, or dried for use as a supplement or warming drink 1
What are the health benefits of chicory root?
Chicory root is a good source of inulin, which is a type of fibre. It also contains a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
While more research is still needed, some benefits of chicory root are thought to include:
- Improved gut health
- Better digestion
- Weight loss 2
It’s worth noting here that other members of the chicory family, like endive leaves, are a completely different ingredient. However, these may have health benefits too!
Who should avoid chicory root?
Chicory root is generally thought to be safe for most people, although there are some exclusions. You should also avoid chicory root if:
- you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- you are allergic to daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds or other flowers and herbs
- you have irritable bowel syndrome
Like with most supplements and food products, moderation is critical even if it is safe for you to enjoy chicory root. Try to avoid overeating, as this could result in unwanted side effects or symptoms3
How to prepare chicory root
Chicory root doesn’t taste too great all by itself, so it’s usually baked, roasted, or ground to be used as an additive or flavouring.
Chicory root coffee is probably the most well-known use of the ingredient, as the bitter flavour and colour closely mimic our favourite morning brew. You can easily purchase ready-prepared chicory root coffee, which can be mixed with your favourite coffee blend or used all by itself. It’s naturally caffeine-free4
! If you find you don’t like the taste of chicory root coffee, there are plenty of other coffee alternatives
out there too.
You could also use chicory root to add flavour to soups, stews and salads. Experiment with your recipes to see what works best5