You can think of the chicory in your coffee as a New Orleans thing, but adding this ground root to a cup of morning coffee has some health benefits. Adding chicory to your coffee or drinking it directly as a coffee substitute, however, can cause digestive upset and allergic reactions in some people.
Before you sip a sip, know the possible side effects so you can make an informed decision and determine if it’s right for you.
Chicory is a root of endive, a type of bitter lettuce. When roasted and ground, chicory root resembles coffee. Adding chicory to coffee has been popular in France since the 1700s, and when the French put their roots in New Orleans, it also became popular there, according to iconic New Orleans restaurant Café Du Monde. .
When the Union blockades cut off the port of New Orleans during the Civil War, citizens could not have coffee delivered. Residents started blending their coffee with chicory to increase the supply, and while that wouldn’t have offered the caffeine buzz, its taste was similar enough to be an acceptable substitute.
People now add chicory to their coffee to help soften the bitter side of roasted coffee. You might like to add chicory to your coffee for this simple flavor adjustment.
You can still enjoy the great flavor and aroma of traditional coffee by choosing chicory coffee (no real coffee beans) as a caffeine-free alternative. Mixing chicory into your existing cup of coffee can also help you reduce your caffeine intake, especially if you are doing so for health reasons.
Does chicory contain caffeine?
The chicory plant does not contain caffeine. Because the plant is caffeine-free, roasted drinks made exclusively from chicory or chicory mixed with other caffeine-free substances are also caffeine-free.
It is more common to find coffee blended with chicory than to find a drink made only from roasted chicory. In coffee-chicory blends, the caffeine content varies depending on the chicory / coffee bean ratio. An older study from 1988 inFood and chemical toxicologyfound that chicory-blended coffee contained as little as 1/3 the caffeine as instant coffee, while USDA measurements found that the levels of some chicory coffee blends were closer to 3 / 4 of the caffeine in coffee. Each brand and blend has its own levels depending on the chicory / coffee ratio.
Health Benefits of Coffee with Chicory
1. It is rich in soluble fiber
The root contains a soluble fiber called inulin. An August 2016 article inCarbohydrate polymersNote that chicory roots are the richest source of this fiber, which acts as a prebiotic, fat substitute, sugar substitute, and texture modifier. It is also added to many “functional” foods that are touted for their ability to improve your digestive health.
Getting enough soluble fiber is associated with lower cholesterol and blood pressure, healthy gastrointestinal function, and several other digestion and health benefits, according to a February 2010 review inComprehensive reviews of food science and food safety.
The good thing about the inulin in chicory coffee is that it doesn’t really raise your blood sugar levels, which makes it valuable for people with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary MedicineIn July 2015 showed that chicory root is linked to delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes and improving bowel function.
2. It can help relieve constipation
And this is where another benefit of chicory lies: Because chicory inulin is a natural laxative, adding it to your coffee can help get things done and regulate your bowels.
In the February 2017 issue of International Journal of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Researchers tested the effects of a fermentable dietary fiber derived from chicory on healthy people with constipation. Those who took the chicory-derived supplement had softer stools and improved bowel function.
Coffee can also have a laxative effect, so drinking chicory coffee is a double whammy against constipation.
3. It could be anti-inflammatory
The antioxidant effects of chicory coffee are linked to the prevention of thrombosis and inflammation, according to a May 2011 study inHerbal medicine research. Participants who drank about 10 ounces of chicory coffee per day experienced a reduction in blood and plasma viscosity after just a week, which the researchers attributed to the antioxidants in the drink.
These phenolic antioxidants also fight free radical damage in the body, protecting major organs and systems from oxidative stress.
Side effects of chicory coffee
The main side effect of chicory root is that too much inulin can lead to stomach cramps, gas, constipation, diarrhea and other digestive disorders, according to an article published in December 2014 in the journal. .Comprehensive Food Science and Safety Reviews. But most people can tolerate up to 20 grams per day.
Indeed, research in the Journal of Clinical GastroenterologyIn August 2017, showed that a daily dose of chicory-derived inulin promotes healthy intestinal bacterial growth and can improve intestinal function. Bonus: it is well tolerated by people with gastrointestinal disorders.
Everyone is different, however, and you may experience side effects with a lower dose. If you find that you are more carbonated than usual after adding chicory to your coffee, chicory may be the culprit.
People who are allergic to birch pollen should avoid chicory as it can trigger allergy symptoms. A November 2015 report in the Journal of Allergy notes that chicory is one of many fruits and vegetables that contain compounds similar to birch and can trigger problems in the oral cavity of sensitive people. This means that you may experience problems like swelling, tingling, and pain in your throat and mouth after ingesting chicory.
If you experience unpleasant symptoms after taking chicory in your coffee and think you have an allergy to chicory root, stop using it and see your doctor.
Keep in mind if you are pregnant that the use of chicory during pregnancy has not been studied, so its safety has not been established, according to a November 2017.BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicinereport. It’s safe to limit your coffee intake during pregnancy, but leave chicory aside. Pregnant people should consume less than 200 milligrams per day or about a 12-ounce cup of coffee, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
No research exists on how chicory affects breastfeeding people or babies either. So it is best to ignore it until you have completed this stage of development.
Is chicory in coffee good?
Everyone’s taste is different. Some people like the sweetening effect of chicory on their coffee, especially when served with donuts. From a health standpoint, adding chicory can definitely help you reduce your caffeine intake. Plus, you can get health benefits like lower blood sugar and better gut health.
Overall, the potential side effects of chicory don’t outweigh its benefits (provided you don’t have a birch allergy).
People who wish to forgo coffee altogether for health reasons will find a number of coffee substitutes made from the same ingredients once used to stretch coffee. Roasted grain drinks are crystallized for use as instant coffee. Everything from barley and wheat to soybeans and chicory can be roasted and ground to replace coffee.
While these drinks don’t exactly mimic the taste of coffee, they are similar enough to serve as a hot beverage for someone who avoids coffee.