Cichorium intybus is a plant with bright blue colored flowers from which chicory root is derived.
It is widely used in cereals, bread, and other products to enrich them with fibers. A water-soluble fiber called inulin is obtained from these roots. It is also used as a food supplement or for the replacement of fat and sugar in processed foods because it is indigestible.
Besides this, it is used as an alternative option to coffee with the almost same color and taste, specifically in France and Japan and some parts of the U.S.
5 Emerging Benefits and Uses of Chicory Root Fiber
The following are the benefits and uses of Chicory Root Fiber. Do give it a read!
1. Packed with the Prebiotic Fiber Inulin
The term ‘prebiotic’ means something that nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut that helps in reducing inflammation, elevates mineral absorption, and defends against harmful micro-organisms.
The prebiotic properties make it quite beneficial for our body. Chicory root is a source of inulin. It turns out to be a water-soluble fiber and passes undigested through the body. It is a fructooligosaccharide, a carbohydrate made up of chains of fructose molecules.
Due to its creamy texture, it can also be added to substances such as yogurt or ice cream. Foods like onion and garlic can also be a source of inulin.
2. May Aid in Bowel Movements
Inulin improves the health of the gut because it is not digestible and also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It can heal issues such as constipation. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, useful in reducing pain.
A study conducted in 44 adults with constipation for 4 weeks induced that adding chicory fiber to the diet increased bowel movements to a great extent. However, such studies are based on the supplementary forms of chicory inulin, and further research on fiber is yet to be done.
3. May Improve Blood Sugar Control
Chicory promotes the delay or prevention of the onset of diabetes. Inulin promotes the growth of gut bacteria that makes carbohydrates break down into simple sugars more efficient. It also enhances insulin sensitivity, which is due to the compounds like chicoric and chlorogenic acid contained in it.
Chicory has barely had any effect on blood glycemic levels, which makes it a better choice of food for people looking to reduce blood sugar levels.
Inulin of a certain type is used as a sugar substitute in processed foods and bakery products, which can help in the control of sugar levels.
This type of inulin has also been in studies that indicate that the addition of this fiber to the diet of women with type 2 diabetes improved blood sugar levels in their bodies.
There is more to be discovered about chicory root fiber, specifically for its effect on the body.
4. May Support Weight Loss
It can be very clear that chicory root fiber aids in weight loss or management from its various properties.
Firstly, it passed undigested through the gut, thus, producing a sense of satiety without the addition of calories.
Secondly, being a substitute for sugar, it helps in managing the calories from sugar, which, we all know, is one of the main causes of overweight.
Studies in overweight adults show that consuming a certain amount of chicory every day helped in a significant reduction. Chicory is a source of fructooligosaccharide, very similar to inulin, which also reduces the levels of a hormone called ‘ghrelin’, which is responsible for hunger feelings, thus, decreases appetite.
These researches are not particularly for chicory root fiber but for certain oligofructose supplements.
5. Easy to Add to your Diet
One might consume chicory root fiber unknowingly through a natural diet or in the form of additives in different foods such as bars or cereals, or other processed foods.
In the food industry, chicory is popularly processed for inulin and utilized as sugar or fat replacement due to its slightly sweet taste. This helps in deducting the calories and maintaining normal levels of sugar in the body.
Veggies such as onion or garlic can be a source of it. Sometimes, it is boiled and cooked and eaten as a vegetable. One can use it at home as well.
As we have already discussed, chicory root is an alternative to coffee. This means that it can be used in the form of beverages as well.
Other than the food, it can be used as a supplement by extracting the chicory root. This can be made available at pharmaceutical stores and online through websites.
Possible Side Effects
When consumed in moderation, chicory is beneficial, but excess can lead to stomach problems. These problems include gas and bloating, especially in people who are sensitive to Abdominal ache, intestinal sounds, belching, and flatulence may also be experienced.
In women, it also causes increased menstrual flow (emmenagogue) or a risk of miscarriage, so they must consult a doctor before consuming.
If a person is allergic to daisies or marigold, or some other varieties, allergy-like symptoms may be experienced.
Sometimes, in processed foods, chicory may be in combination with artificial sweetener or can be chemically modified, which can cause issues.
It must be taken care to consume only the required amount of chicory to avoid issues.
Dosage and Preparation
As per studies, 5-10 grams of inulin is the standard dose that causes no discomfort.
Chicory can be eaten in the form of vegetables by boiling its leaves, buds, and roots.
It can be added to coffee or can be itself used as a coffee by roasting and adding 2 tablespoons to
1 cup (240 ml) of water. It has a similar taste and color. Ready made forms are also available at grocery stores, both in pure form and in combination.
Chicory root is derived from the chicory plant belonging to the dandelion family. It contains inulin by 68% of dry weight, which is a soluble and indigestible fiber.
It has been discovered that it has numerous health benefits, including improvement of gut health. It helps in regulating bowel movements and also blood sugar levels. It is used as a fat and sugar substitute in processed foods, which helps in weight management.
It can be taken in a supplement, vegetable, coffee, through diet, etc. Although highly beneficial, the dosage should be in moderation, or it can cause problems such as gas or bloating and pain.