Even though the consumption of chicory isn’t mainstream, it has been used for centuries for various purposes, the most popular being as a coffee substitute.
While it’s common for the most frequently used parts to be chicory root, the flowers also possess great utility, and may offer benefits for your health as well. Wondering what this perennial herb can do for you? Let’s check out some amazing benefits of chicory you’ve probably never heard of:
1. Promotes Digestive Health
Digestion is not a process that just occurs perchance. Rather, it requires synergy between numerous enzymes as well as the probiotic bacteria residing within your gut.
Chicory contains the prebiotic carbohydrate known as inulin, which is one fuel source these good probiotic bacteria can use for nourishment.
This translates to less digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, heartburn and even reflux. It is important that you support the health of these important probiotic bacteria as they are the first line of defense being part of your immune system.
2. Helps Reduce Cholesterol Levels
When it comes to reducing cholesterol levels, soluble fiber leads the way. As it turns out, inulin is soluble fiber, helping to keep cholesterol values under control. In particular, soluble fiber helps to remove bile acids from circulation, prompting cholesterol to synthesize more of this enzyme.
The many benefits of controlling cholesterol have been expounded upon numerous times, but by helping to keep blood vessels free of atherosclerotic deposits, you significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and are likely to have better control over your blood pressure.
3. Helps Manage Arthritis Pain
Chicory contains several anti-inflammatory compounds that lend themselves favorably to reduction in arthritic symptoms that are known to cause significant pain and immobility.
It has actually been used for decades for this exact purpose, long before it was known that it contains these anti-inflammatory compounds. In the same vein, chicory can also help control other inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis.
4. Helps Promote Weight Loss
The way chicory helps to promote weight loss is by virtue of its inulin content, along with oligofructose, both of which are compounds that suppresses the release of the hormone ghrelin, which helps to signal to the body that you are filled and do not need to eat.
ghrelin desensitivity has been postulated as a possible mechanism of binge eating disorder and obesity, as low-grade stimulation of this hormone constantly causes one to feel like they’re hungry, and in response, to over eat.
Controlling appetite triggers are one of the most effective ways to promote long-term weight loss.
5. Natural Relaxant
Use of chicory before bed can help promote rest, being said to possess mild sedative properties. It is also said to be an effective anxiolytic herb, promoting stress relief and restful sleep.
Both the leaves and roots possess this property, so you can either make the leaves into a tea (the leaves are strikingly similar to dandelions) or use the ground roots to make a coffee-esque beverage- but which lacks the caffeine of course.
6. Promotes Kidney Health
One of the key indicators of good kidney health is the glomerular filtration rate, or the speed at which liquid waste is filtered. Persons that chronically under consume the recommended amount of water may experience diminished diuresis and filtration rate, putting them at risk for kidney stones or worse – kidney failure.
Chicory has a natural diuretic property which promotes urination. Of course, this does not excuse the importance of water, as forcing diuresis without replacing fluids will cause dehydration and its associated consequences.
7. Helps Manage Diabetes
A clear distinction needs to be made that inulin is not insulin. Inulin is merely a carbohydrate fiber, whereas insulin is a critical hormone that our body needs for the uptake of glucose into cells.
However, that does not mean that inulin can’t lend itself to helping support insulin. In particular, inulin can help slow the rate at which glucose enters blood, a problem that diabetics are faced with every day. By doing so, insulin is better equipped to promote the uptake of a little bit of glucose at a time.
In addition, inulin is said to be able to help improve insulin sensitivity, in effect boosting its efficiency. Secondary benefits include helping with the management of cholesterol, a common comorbidity in diabetic patients.
8. Supports Liver Health
Even though the liver is a very hardy and self regenerating organ, there is just so much that it can take before disease ensues. For instance, a liver that is bombarded by excessive free radical damage or as a result of heavy metal exposure can become inflamed, or worse, result in liver failure.
Chicory root can help to ensure optimal liver function by mitigating some of the damage that may be caused by these free radicals. By effectively “taking the hit” chicory helps to ensure that the liver is able to fulfill its mandated functions and breakdown toxins so that the body can get rid of it.
9. Natural Antiparasitic
While its ability to completely eliminate the parasitic infection is not proven, it does show great promise in decreasing the risk of an infection developing in the first place, thanks to the presence of tannins and sesquiterpene lactone compounds which impair the survival of intestinal parasites.
It may also help to improve host resistance to parasitic infections, so that in the event parasites and their larvae are inadvertently consumed, they do not get the chance to reproduce and cause a full-fledged infection.
10. Antimicrobial Properties
Chicory’s anti-microbial properties can be best attributed to its ability to enhance the immune system, in turn decreasing the likelihood of you picking up a nasty bacterial or fungal disease.
Healthy probiotic cultures are especially important to reduce the risk of pathogenic infections, since they suppress these foreign microbes, prevent their reproduction and help the specialized cells of the immune system to destroy them before full-fledged infection can take hold.
11. Constipation Remedy
Though chicory is better known for its soluble fiber content, it also helps with the bulking of stools and retention of water, so that constipation is less likely.
If you suffer from regularities issues-that is not having a predictable stool schedule, consumption of chicory can help change that.
With the unique set of benefits that chicory brings to the table, are you going to try to get more in your diet? If you’ve been looking for a way to break free from the hold coffee has on you, switching to the ultimate coffee substitute that is chicory is a great step in the right direction.
You should consult your physician or pharmacist prior to regular consumption of chicory, however, as there are risks of possible undesirable drug interactions occurring.