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Chicory coffee

A healthy alternative to coffee?

Chicory coffee has gained popularity as a healthy substitute for coffee, but it is good for you? Here's a look at the evidence.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on July 18, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on June 27, 2022.

With its woody flavor and nutty aroma, chicory coffee has recently become a must-have for many people in their morning routine.

You can not only use it as a tasty, caffeine-free alternative to coffee but also mix it with coffee grounds to upgrade your breakfast brew.

Made from roasted chicory root instead of coffee beans, chicory coffee is often considered a New Orleans staple. It’s also commonly enjoyed in many other areas around the globe, including France and India.

Although chicory coffee has been linked to several health benefits, it could also cause adverse side effects in some people.

This article takes an in-depth look at the evidence to determine whether chicory coffee is good for you.

What is chicory coffee?

Chicory is a flowering plant in the dandelion family. It’s characterized by a tough, hairy stem, light purple flowers, and leaves that are commonly used in salads.

Chicory coffee is made by roasting, grinding, and brewing the roots of the chicory plant. It tastes similar to coffee, featuring a flavor that’s often described as slightly earthy and nutty.

It’s used either on its own or mixed with coffee to complement its flavor.

Although the history of chicory coffee is not entirely clear, it’s believed to have originated in the 1800s in France during a coffee shortage. Looking for a substitute or to stretch out coffee beans, people began mixing chicory roots into their coffee to get their coffee fix.

Years later, during the Civil War, it also became popular in New Orleans when the city experienced a coffee shortage after Union naval blockades cut off one of their ports.

Today, chicory coffee can still be found in many parts of the world and is often used as a caffeine-free alternative to regular coffee.

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Summary: Chicory coffee is a drink made from roasted, ground, and brewed chicory root. It’s believed to have first been used during a coffee shortage in France in the 1800s, but it remains popular around the world today.

Chicory coffee provides several nutrients

Chicory root is the primary ingredient in chicory coffee.

To make it, raw chicory root is minced, roasted, and brewed into coffee.

Although the amounts vary, it’s generally recommended to use about 2 tablespoons (11 grams) of ground chicory root per 1 cup (237 mL) of water.

One raw chicory root (60 grams) contains the following nutrients:

Chicory root is a good source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that may support weight loss and improve gut health.

It also contains some manganese and vitamin B6, two nutrients tied to brain health.

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Keep in mind that the amounts of these nutrients in chicory coffee are fairly low, as only a small amount of chicory root is brewed into the drink.

Summary: Chicory coffee is made from minced and roasted chicory root. It provides inulin fiber, manganese, and vitamin B6.

Chicory coffee may improve digestive health

Chicory root is a good source of fiber, which may improve several aspects of your digestive health.

For example, it may support the health of your gut microbiome, which is believed to be strongly connected to health and disease.

This is because chicory root contains inulin fiber, a type of prebiotic that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Several studies have shown that supplementing with inulin could increase the concentration of certain strains of healthy bacteria in the colon.

Studies also show that chicory may improve bowel function and reduce constipation.

One 2017 study had 44 people with constipation take chicory inulin supplements for 4 weeks. Compared with a placebo, it was found to increase stool frequency and softness, thereby improving constipation.

In another small study, drinking 10 ounces (300 mL) of chicory root extract daily for 4 weeks significantly improved bowel regularity compared with a control group.

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Summary: Some studies have shown that chicory could improve bowel function and reduce constipation. It also contains inulin, which could promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Chicory coffee could lower blood sugar

Chicory root contains inulin, a type of fiber that has been shown to help manage blood sugar levels in both human and animal studies.

In one study, rats with diabetes received chicory inulin for 8 weeks. The inulin improved blood sugar management, which was attributed to a change in carbohydrate metabolism.

Although research on chicory inulin’s effect on blood sugar is limited, several other studies have shown that it may benefit blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Insulin is the hormone that transports sugar from your blood to muscles and tissues, where it can be used as fuel. Insulin resistance occurs with long periods of elevated insulin levels can decrease the effectiveness of insulin and cause high blood sugar.

In one small study, taking 30 grams of inulin per day for 2 weeks significantly reduced insulin resistance in 40 people with prediabetes compared with a placebo.

Additionally, a review of 25 studies concluded that supplementing with inulin could help decrease insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes, especially among those with obesity.

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However, most studies to date have focused on inulin rather than chicory. Further research is needed to determine how chicory coffee, specifically, may influence blood sugar and insulin levels.

Summary: Studies show that inulin may decrease insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.

Chicory coffee may decrease inflammation

Although inflammation is a normal immune system response, chronic inflammation is thought to contribute to conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Promisingly, some animal studies have found that chicory root may possess anti-inflammatory properties.

In one 2014 rat study, chicory root reduced levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-1, all of which are markers of inflammation.

Another study similarly showed that feeding piglets dried chicory root decreased levels of inflammation.

What’s more, one study found that administering chicory extract to rats with gout blocked certain pathways that regulate inflammation.

However, most of the current research on this topic is limited to animal studies. More studies are needed to determine how chicory roots may affect inflammation in humans.

Summary: Some animal studies have found that chicory root may reduce markers of inflammation.

Chicory coffee is naturally caffeine-free

Chicory coffee can be an excellent way to reduce your caffeine intake.

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Regular coffee is made from coffee beans that are roasted, ground, and brewed.

A typical cup of coffee contains about 92 mg of caffeine, although this amount varies based on factors like the type of coffee beans used, the serving size, and the type of coffee roast.

Consuming high amounts of caffeine has been associated with side effects like nausea, anxiety, heart palpitations, restlessness, and insomnia.

Chicory root is naturally caffeine-free, so it makes an excellent coffee substitute if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake.

Some people add chicory root to hot water for a completely caffeine-free beverage, while others mix it into a small amount of regular coffee to enjoy a lower caffeine beverage.

Summary: Excess caffeine consumption has been linked to several adverse side effects. Pure chicory coffee is caffeine-free and can be used as a coffee substitute.

Chicory coffee may not be for everyone

While chicory coffee has been associated with several health benefits, it’s not for everyone.

Chicory may trigger an allergic reaction in some people, causing symptoms like pain, swelling, and tingling of the mouth.

People with an allergy to ragweed or birch pollen should avoid chicory to prevent potential negative side effects.

If you experience any negative symptoms after consuming chicory coffee, discontinue use immediately and consult your doctor.

Furthermore, research is limited on the safety and potential side effects of chicory root for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Check with your doctor before consuming it to prevent adverse symptoms.

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Summary: Some people may be allergic to chicory coffee. Additionally, there’s limited research on the safety of chicory root for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Summary

Chicory coffee may be associated with several health benefits. It can be a good coffee substitute if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake.

However, there’s limited research on the potential health benefits of chicory coffee, and no evidence shows that it’s any healthier than regular coffee.

Still, if you like its taste and aren’t allergic to it, feel free to add it to your diet and enjoy it.

Quick tip

For an easy way to take advantage of the benefits of chicory, try combining it with regular coffee. To get started, simply mix ground coffee with chicory in a 2-to-1 ratio, then brew and enjoy!

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