Chicory Root Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

chicory root

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Chicory root (Chichorium intybus) is a rich source of a water-soluble fiber called inulin. Chicory inulin is not digestible and can be used to replace dietary fat or sugar in some processed and functional foods.

Using inulin instead of sugar or fat can result in a lower-calorie food. Chicory root is also commonly used in the preparation of a bitter coffee substitute in France and Japan. Chicory root coffee is becoming more popular in some areas of the U.S.

Chicory Root Nutrition Facts

One-half cup of 1-inch pieces of raw chicory root (45g) provides 32 calories, 0.6g of protein, 7.9g of carbohydrates, and 0.1g of fat. Chicory root is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and folate. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 32
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 22.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.9g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Sugars: 3.9g
  • Protein: 0.6g
  • Potassium: 130mg
  • Calcium: 18.4mg
  • Phosphorus: 27.4mg
  • Folate: 10.4mcg

Carbs

Chicory root provides 7.9 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fiber, and 3.9 grams of sugars per half-cup serving. As far as vegetables are concerned, it has one of the highest fiber contents, accounting for almost 90% of its weight when dried.

Chicory's inulin helps give it a low glycemic index rating and, when used in place of sugar and/or fat in other foods (like ice cream), can lower their glycemic index rating as well.

Fats

There are less than 0.1 grams of fat in a half-cup of chicory root. If you are watching your fat intake, consuming chicory root is one way to satisfy your hunger without using up a large portion of your daily allotted fat.

Protein

Chicory root is a low-protein food at only 0.6 grams per half-cup serving. Making side dishes that combine it with high-protein vegetables such as potatoes and beets is one way to increase your protein intake while including this food in your eating plan.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chicory root contains many different nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate. It also supplies limited amounts of magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Calories

One-half cup of raw chicory root (45 grams) provides 32 calories. That makes it similar to other root vegetables, such as carrots, which supply roughly 26 calories for the same serving size.

Summary

Chicory root is a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is also low in fat. Adding it to your diet increases your intake of many vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate.

Health Benefits

Not only do many people enjoy chicory root's earthy flavor, but it has also been connected with a variety of health-based benefits.

Assists With Weight Loss

Foods with inulin often have a lower calorie and fat content than comparable foods without inulin. These foods allow people to eat their favorites while still decreasing overall calorie intake, makes it easier to lose weight without feeling deprived.

Most people are more likely to consume chicory root (inulin) in processed foods as an added fiber. Because it can add to the feeling of satiety, common foods like protein powders, low-sugar cereals, and snack-replacement bars frequently contain chicory.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Chicory root inulin can increase the added fiber content of foods and help promote healthy digestion. Studies have connected chicory inulin with increased stool frequency in people who are constipated.

Chicory root also has prebiotic qualities, meaning it feeds the good bacteria in your gut. That adds to its digestive health benefits.

Helps Prevent and Manage Diabetes

One 2015 study tested the effects of chicory root extract on blood sugar and fat metabolism. Study authors concluded that, while chicory had no effect on fat metabolism, it could delay or prevent the early onset of diabetes.

A 2016 study also found that chicory may offer benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. For instance, it appears to improve glucose and calcium stability, reduce blood pressure, and aid in healthy liver function. This study's subjects were all female, so more research is needed to learn whether it provides the same effects for males.

Inhibits Cancer Growth

Some studies have connected chicory root with inhibiting different types of cancer. One example is research that found that chicory helps kill breast cancer cells. Another study linked inulin with the prevention of colon cancer.

Improves Brain Health

Chicory root also contains manganese and vitamin B6, which both play a role in brain health. Brain health becomes even more important with age as older people may find it harder to concentrate or have trouble recalling certain information.

Aids in Osteoarthritis Management

People sometimes use chicory topically for swelling, inflammation, and osteoarthritis. An industry-funded study demonstrated that taking a chicory supplement may play a role in the management of osteoarthritis, but more evidence is needed to confirm this benefit.

Allergies

Chicory root allergy is rare, with only about 20 cases reported in the last century, and most of these cases involving people who work with this vegetable in their course of employment, such as working around ground chicory and inhaling it.

If you are allergic to birch pollen, you may have a reaction to chicory. This is referred to as oral allergy syndrome and occurs when proteins in a fruit or vegetable are similar to those found in pollen.

Adverse Effects

In the United States, inulin has attained Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status by the FDA. This means that chicory is likely safe when consumed in amounts typically present in foods.

Chicory root is generally well tolerated when consumed by mouth. However, some people may experience symptoms including flatulence, belching, abdominal pains, intestinal sounds, and bloating.

Research has also not yet established the safety of chicory during pregnancy, so people who are pregnant may want to avoid consuming this vegetable or talk with their healthcare practitioner first.

Varieties

There are many varieties of chicory, though some are grown for their leaves versus their roots (such as endive and radicchio). The sativum variety is a chicory variety that is grown industrially in Northern Europe for its roots and used by food companies such as General Mills and FiberOne.

Two chicory root varieties grown to be used as coffee substitutes are Brunswick and Magdeburg. The roots of these varieties can grow to be roughly 12 inches long.

When It's Best

Chicory root in its whole form is not commonly found in U.S. supermarkets. However, you are likely to find salad chicory (endive) in the produce sections of many grocery stores. Endive and its cousins—radicchio, frisée, and escarole—are bitter greens that many people enjoy in recipes.

You can purchase ground chicory coffee online or in grocery stores. You may see coffee/chicory combinations or pure ground chicory. Both are prepared the same way that you would prepare ground coffee beans.

Storage and Food Safety

To keep ground chicory fresh, store it in an airtight container, much the same way you would ground coffee. Salad chicory should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will last for about a week or so. Wrap it in a damp piece of paper towel to help it stay fresh longer.

If you do find chicory roots, they should be stored in a cold, humid location, where they will last for several months.

How to Prepare

When consumed as a food, chicory roots can be boiled and the leaves (endive), buds, and roots can be eaten like a vegetable.

Some also roast the root or buy roasted ground chicory root to use in coffee or alone as a coffee substitute. Most product labels advise dissolving two tablespoons of ground chicory coffee substitute in a cup of hot water or adding a smaller amount of chicory to your coffee.

Chicory root has an earthy or woody taste somewhat similar to coffee and contains no caffeine. It's the beverage of choice for some people who are trying to eliminate or reduce their coffee intake.

Recipes

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19 Sources
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