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We have all come across the word 'chicory'. Yes, it is the same as that of the 'chicory' in chicory coffee. Scientifically termed as Cichorium intybus, the chicory plant is used for its roots, leaves and buds. The leaves of the plant are used in a similar manner as that of spinach, where the leaves are used in salad and other similar cuisines. The medicinal qualities possessed by the plant as a whole makes it a healthy addition to your diet.
The most beneficial as well as the most favoured part of the chicory plant is the roots. Belonging to the dandelion family, the roots are wood-like and fibrous. The roots are grounded into a powder and are used as a substitute for coffee, due to the similarity in its flavour  . It is also available in the supplement form.
Chicory roots have been used for thousands of years as a herbal remedy due to the plethora of health benefits its possess. From easing digestive problems and preventing heartburn, the roots are also beneficial in preventing bacterial infections and boosting the immune system  .
Continue reading to know the different ways through which the coffee alternative can help improve your health.
Nutritional Value Of Chicory
100 grams of the dried root contains 72 calories of energy, 0.2 g lipid fat, 8.73 g sugar and 0.8 mg iron.
The remaining nutrients in 100 grams of chicory are as follows  :
- 17.51 g carbohydrate
- 80 g water
- 1.4 g protein
- 1.5 g fibre
- 41 mg of calcium
- 22 mg magnesium
- 61 mg phosphorus
- 290 mg sodium
- 50 mg of potassium
Health Benefits Of Chicory
1. Improves heart health
Chicory is asserted to possess the ability to reduce the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the body which is the major cause of high blood pressure. The LDL cholesterol negatively impacts your heart health by blocking the flow of blood by binding the veins and arteries, thereby increasing the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Also, chicory is packed with anti-thrombotic and anti-arrhythmic agents that can help improve the balance of blood and plasma in the body - causing a significant reduction in the chances of diseases affecting your cardiovascular system   .
2. Improves digestion
Rich in fibre, the dried root provide the required amount of fibre into your body which has a direct impact on improving the digestive process. Along with that, chicory contains insulin (a powerful prebiotic) which help in combating digestion related problems such as indigestion, gas, bloating, acid reflux and heartburn  .
3. Aids weight loss
A good source of oligofructose, chicory is exceptionally beneficial if you are looking forward to losing some weight. The presence of insulin aid in the regulation of ghrelin, thereby preventing constant hunger pangs. By reducing the levels of ghrelin, chicory can help prevent overeating  .
4. Manages arthritis
Used as a treatment method for arthritis pain, studies reveal that the inflammatory properties of chicory help in managing and reducing the pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis. Apart from that, chicory can be used to manage aches, muscle pains, and joint soreness as well  .
5. Boosts immunity
Possessing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, chicory can be easily considered an immunity-boosting agent  . The polyphenolic compounds in chicory also work towards this benefit  . Apart from these, the coffee substitute also possesses antioxidant properties.
6. Treats anxiety
The sedative property of chicory functions in accordance with this health benefit. Consumption of chicory can help soothe your mind and reduce the levels of anxiety. According to several studies, chicory can be used as a sleep aid to help improve your sleep cycle as well. By relieving your stress and anxiety levels, chicory help prevents the onset of hormonal imbalances, heart disease, cognitive decline, insomnia and premature ageing   .
7. Help treat kidney disorders
Used as a diuretic, chicory help increase your urine volume which in turn promote your levels of urination. With a healthy level of urination, you will be able to get rid of the toxins accumulated in your kidney and liver  .
Healthy Chicory Recipes
1. Dandelion and chicory chai
- ½ cup of water
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon dandelion root, coarsely ground roasted
- 1 teaspoon chicory root, coarsely ground roasted
- 2 black peppercorns, cracked
- 2 green cardamom pods, cracked
- 1 whole clove
- ½ cup milk
- 1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Combine the water, ginger, dandelion root, chicory root, peppercorns, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon in a teapot.
- Cover and boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer and keep it covered for 5 minutes.
- Add the milk and honey and bring to boil again.
- Remove from the heat and strain into a cup
2. Vanilla spiced breakfast smoothie [vegan & gluten-free]
- 1 ½ frozen bananas
- ½ cup gluten-free oats
- 2 teaspoon ground chicory
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup almonds
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
- Crushed almonds
- Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until thick and creamy.
- Serve cold.
- Pregnant women should avoid chicory as it may stimulate menstruation and lead to miscarriage  .
- During the breastfeeding period, avoid chicory as it may transfer to the child.
- It may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to marigold, daisies etc.
- Avoid chicory if you have gallstones.  .
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