Chicory is a perennial herb from the dandelion family called Asteraceae. With the scientific name Cichorium intybus, the plant is grow for salad leaves, chicons, and roots, which are ground, baked, and used as an alternative to coffee. As a plant, chicory also has a number of health benefits.
Chicory is rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, B, and C, along with calcium, iron, and magnesium. Vitamin A is great for vision, as well as the integrity of the skin and mucus membranes. On the other hand, vitamin B promotes nervous function, which includes learning, thinking, and memory. Then, vitamin C boosts the body’s defenses against illness and infection. It also promotes the function of the substance collagen, which acts as cement to bind loosely connected cells and tissues. In terms of minerals, calcium helps strengthen then bones and teeth while iron promotes adequate cellular and tissue oxygenation. Then, magnesium improves neuromuscular coordination.
Chicory as Antioxidant
Chicory acts as an antioxidant, which means it helps the body get rid of unwanted and toxic substances, such as free radicals, which contribute to the development of cancer. According to Global Healing Center, these antioxidant compounds are called phenolics, which is known to have protective properties on the cardiovascular system. As per the publication, chicory coffee has also been studied for redness resistance, mainly due to these antioxidants and caffeic acid.
Chicory, Weight Loss, and Cardiovascular Health
Chicory also plays a role in weight management and promotes the health of the heart. According to Medical Health Guide, chicory leaves are recommended in weight loss diets, particularly in people who have higher chances of developing diabetes mellitus, an endocrine disorder that involves prolonged blood sugar levels
Chicory and Digestion
Chicory also promotes digestive health. According to Mercola, chicory roots have oligosaccharide-enriched insulin, which is a prebiotic. As per the publication, it plays a pivotal role in the immune system; it activates the growth and mechanics of probiotics, along with improving the digestive health via maintenance of digestive flora balance. In terms of sources, these oligosaccharides can also be found in breast milk, onions, garlics, bananas, leeks, legumes, and artichokes.
Chicory as Stress Reliever
Chicory also helps combat stress. According to Dr. Axe’s official website, the plant does not contain caffeine, which makes it a viable alternative for coffee. As per the publication, reduced caffeine consumption helps reduce the levels of cortisol and epinephrine levels, which are associated with stress.
Chicory can be added to various meal recipes, such as Sauteed Chicory. According to Epicurious, the ingredients include three pounds chicory (about two heads), one-fourth cup of extra-virgin olive oil, four large garlic cloves (finely chopped), and half teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes.
To prepare, as per the publication, the chicory is washed and cooked in an eight-quart pot of boiling salted water. The chicory is cooked uncovered an is stirred occasionally for about five minutes, until it becomes tender. Then, it is drained well. Next, the pot is dried and the oil is heated over medium heat until it shimmers. After that, the garlic is cooked with red-pepper flakes and is stirred for about a minute until it becomes golden brown in color. Once done, chicory is added and is stirred to coat. The heat is increased to medium-high and the food is cooked and stirred occasionally for three to five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Finally, half teaspoon of salt is stirred.
Chicory is considered a healthy food option due to its nutritional contents. Thus, its inclusion to various meal recipes helps boost a person’s health and well-being.