The fiber from this root is purported to have numerous health benefits and often extracted for use as a food additive or supplement.
Chicory is used for loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, liver and gallbladder disorders, cancer, and rapid heartbeat. It is also used as a “tonic,” to increase urine production and to protect the liver. Chicory root has a mild laxative effect, increases bile from the gallbladder, and decreases swelling. Chicory is a rich source of beta-carotene.
Source: VerywellFit - medically reviewed byMarisa Moore, RDN, MBA
Chicory root (Chichorium intybus) is a rich source of a water-soluble fibre called inulin. Chicory inulin is not digestible and can be used to replace dietary fat or sugar in some foods.
Using inulin instead of sugar or fat can result in a lower-calorie food. Roasted chicory root extract is becoming more popular as a drink in recent times as it is caffeine-free and a powerful antioxidant.
"One of the benefits of inulin is that it's a prebiotic, meaning that it can support the growth of beneficial bacteria (called probiotics) in your gut," says Kelli McGrane, M.S., RD, a dietitian for Lose It! and author of The Healthy Toast. "This is important, as good gut health has been linked with weight loss, digestive health, improved immune function and optimized nutrient absorption."
One thing to note here is that many types of fiber function as prebiotics, so any high-fiber diet—one that's rich in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds—will offer this same gut health benefit (learn more about prebiotics and prebiotic-rich foods).
Like some other types of fiber, "chicory root fiber has also been shown to be good for relieving constipation and improving blood sugar control, especially in individuals with diabetes," McGrane says.
Chicory root also contains small amounts of vitamin B6 and manganese, although you're unlikely to eat enough of it to really get significant amounts of these nutrients.
One-half cup of 2.5cm 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:
Chicory root provides 7.9 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fibre and 3.9 grams of sugars per half-cup serving. As far as vegetables are concerned, it has one of the highest fibre 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.
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.
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.
Chicory root contains many different nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium and folate. It also supplies limited amounts of magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
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.
Not only do many people enjoy chicory root's earthy flavor, but it has also been connected with a variety of health benefits. Many herbs are high in antioxidants and often come in the form of compounds called phenolics. Chicory is a rich source of phenolics and their protective effects on the cardiovascular system is widely acknowledged. Researchers believe the benefit of dietary supplementation with chicory is because of its polyphenolic (antioxidant) compounds.
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 fibre. Because it can add to the feeling of satiety, common foods like protein powders, low-sugar cereals and snack-replacement bars frequently contain chicory.
Chicory root inulin can increase the added fibre 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.