Chicory root doesn’t seem, on its surface, like something we would imbibe to be healthier, but it does have some benefits that may be on the surprising side. If you saw it, though, we’d forgive you for giving it a pass at first glance, as it doesn’t look super appetizing, but it is actually quite good for you.
According to Healthline, the root comes from a plant in the dandelion family with eye-catching bright blue flowers, and even though it’s “just a plant,” related to dandelions no less, it’s been used for hundreds of years in both cooking and traditional medicine, along with its more modern incarnation as an alternative to coffee.
Moreover, the fiber from chicory root reportedly has tons of health benefits, which is why it’s often used as a food additive or supplement. You may not know exactly what it is yet, but the benefits will make you want to swap out your coffee immediately.
Chicory root contains a super important fiber
First and foremost, the majority (68 percent) of chicory root is made up of a type of fiber called inulin, also known as fructan or fructooligosaccharide, which acts as a probiotic. Inulin feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut to help reduce inflammation, fights harmful bacteria, and improves mineral absorption. Likewise, it also promotes healthy digestion, with several studies even claiming it can relieve constipation.
Inulin may also boost blood sugar control, particularly in those with diabetes, as the beneficial bacteria it promotes assists in carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity. It could also promote weight loss, according to a recent study, with oligofructose, which is derived from chicory root, as it’s said to encourage weight loss and decrease the levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone, in the body.
There are lots of great health benefits to chicory root
Likewise, another study found chicory root’s anti-inflammatory qualities were beneficial for reducing pain, and may even help in the treatment and prevention of cancer. The manganese and vitamin B6 contained within also assist in brain health, however, more studies are required on both. Topically, though, chicory root can be used for a variety of ailments including swelling, inflammation, and osteoarthritis.
Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to add chicory root to your diet, particularly considering it’s already an additive in certain foods. It can be used in cooking, or boiled and eaten as a vegetable, and its popularity as a coffee substitute is growing exponentially. According to Healthline, roasted and ground chicory root can be easily used to make a rich, coffee-like beverage. All you need is to add two tablespoons (around 11g) of ground chicory root for every 240 ml of water in your coffee maker and you’re good to go. You can also buy inulin as a supplement in health stores.
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