Chicory coffee drink with blue flowers
French Health

Chicory coffee health benefits: why the French love it?

I’ve had chicory coffee my entire life without even knowing what it was until very recently! That is probably because “la chicorée” is a French popular product that is cultivated in Northern France where I grew up.

I always thought it was a type of coffee and to my big surprise, after finally questioning myself about it, I found out it wasn’t coffee at all.

Interestingly, chicory was already used in the Antiquity by the Egyptians and the Greeks. They appreciated it for its medicinal qualities way back then!

After doing my little research, check out chicory coffee’s many health benefits!

What is chicory root coffee?

Chicory coffee ground root-chicory flowers

You may have heard of French endive or radicchio salad? Both come from the “Cichorium” species, a variety of plants in the dandelion/sunflower family that are cultivated for their leaves. Other varieties are grown for their roots.

With the scientific name “Cichorium intybu”, Chicory is a wild herbal flowering plant that is grown for its roots. It is characterized by its blue-lavender flowers that freely grow the wayside in Europe.

Why is it called chicory “coffee”?

Chicory coffee is this comforting “coffee-like” beverage that is made of roasted chicory root that has been ground and brewed.

I love it because it has a caramel nutty flavor and a slightly bitter taste like coffee. You can find chicory coffee on its own or mixed with coffee.

A little bit of history here:

Chicory is cultivated as a therapeutic plant in Europe since the middle ages.

It is in the Netherlands first that chicory roots were used to produce this coffee substitute beverage. ( circa the end of the 17th century. )

Then its use spread throughout Northern Europe.

In the 1800s, there was a massive coffee shortage in France so the French started to mix chicory roots with their coffee as a substitute because it is a drink that resembles coffee.

It also was adopted in New Orleans during the civil war. The city also encountered a coffee shortage due to the Union naval sieges that blocked one of their ports.

What is in chicory coffee?

Let’s look at the nutritional value of chicory coffee.

One raw chicory root (about 60g) contains the following multiple nutrients:

  • Calories : 43.8 (183 KJ)/ 2% of the RDI
  • Protein : 0.8 g / 2% of the RDI
  • Total carbs : 10.5 g / 4% of the RDI
  • Fiber : 0.9 g

Vitamins

  • Vitamin C : 3.0 mg/ 5% of RDI
  • Vitamin B6 : 0.1 mg/ 7% of RDI
  • Folate : 13.8 mcg/ 3% of RDI
  • Panthothenic Acid : 0.2 mg/ 2% of RDI

Minerals

  • Calcium : 24.6 mg/ 2% of RDI
  • Iron : 0.5mg/ 3% of RDI
  • Magnesium : 13.2mg/ 3% of RDI
  • Phosphorus : 36.6mg/ 4% of RDI
  • Potassium : 174mg/ 5% of RDI
  • Sodium : 30.0mg/ 1% of RDI
  • Zinc : 0.2mg/ 1% of RDI
  • Manganese : 0.1mg/ 7% of RDI
  • Selenium : 0.4mcg/ 1% of RDI

Fatty acids

  • Total Fat : 0.1g
  • Total Omega-3 : 7.8mg 
  • Total Omega-6 : 45.0mg

Looking at this list, chicory root is a great source of Vitamin C, B6, Manganese, and Potassium. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Furthermore, chicory root is rich in inulin fiber (prebiotic fiber), up to 40% which helps with digestion, stabilizing our gut microbiota.

Here are 14 chicory coffee scientifically proven health benefits!

Chicory root is rich in inulin fiber

As mentioned above, raw chicory root is full of inulin fiber, a super compound that has several health impacts.

1. A healthy gut microbiota promotes a healthier colon!

Chicory’s good source of prebiotic fiber helps improve digestive issues and bring balance to your gut microbiome. That’s because this type of fiber encourages the growth of good bacteria in your intestines. A healthy gut microbiome ( a pocket of microbes in your intestines) has a huge impact on diseases and on overall human health.

Read here the related article “Health benefits of mighty chia seeds”!

2. Reduced constipation!

Are you tired of being constipated? Improve your bowel function by drinking chicory coffee. Indeed, studies show that supplements with chicory inulin helped increase stool softness and regularity.

3. Lower your blood sugar levels!

Inulin fiber contained in chicory root also helps control blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. Recent studies on diabetic rats show that it improved how carbohydrates are absorbed.

Another research among women with diabetes has shown that supplementing with 10g of inulin daily reduced their blood sugar levels.

4. Manage your weight!

Inulin-rich food like chicory coffee may help with weight management.

As a matter of fact, this dietary fiber can give you a sensation of fullness without increasing the levels of sugar in your blood nor adding more calories. It helps control your hunger and regulate your metabolism.

5. Reduce your cholesterol!

High cholesterol levels in your blood can cause several serious health conditions. It is important to eat a balanced fiber-rich diet to minimize the risks of developing severe illnesses.

One other great purpose of inulin fiber is that it helps prevent bad cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream by binding it to the small intestine and then flush it out through bowel movement.

6. Control your Blood Pressure!

It is well known that high cholesterol levels can cause high blood pressure by clogging the arteries.

Read here the related article “The awesome health benefits of spirulina”!

7. Protect your heart!

It is no surprise that all the health benefits mentioned above also lead to a healthier heart. But there is even more! Chicory root is a great source of plant phenolics such as caffeic acid. It is widely recognized that plant polyphenols protect the heart by preventing cardiovascular conditions like thrombosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

Read here the related article “The benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar”!

Chicory coffee is a great Source of Antioxidants

8. Prevent cancer!

Chicory coffee contains a proportionately good amount of antioxidants to prevent cancer from developing.

The forming of cancerous cells is caused by the abnormally high concentration of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from causing damage to the cells. Antioxidants are also called “free radicals scavengers”.

Though our body produces its own antioxidants, it’s not enough. It has to rely on external sources such as our diet to get the rest of the antioxidants needed.

Chicory coffee has anti-inflammatory properties

9. Neutralize muscles and joints soreness!

Inflammation is a natural response of our immune system but constant pain and persistent swelling are the causes of several diseases like arthritis, heart problems, cancer, and diabetes.

Some animal study finds that chicory root possesses anti-inflammatory activity due to its antioxidant effects.

In fact, phenolic compounds or plant polyphenols found in chicory coffee have the ability to reduce swelling and thus reduce muscle pains, sore joints, and body aches.

Chicory coffee has antibacterial action

10. Strengthen your immune system!

One study shows that chicory roots produce di-CQA acid (a hydroxycinnamic acid), a strong anti-oxidant with high antibacterial potential.

Furthermore, another research finds that chicory is among the medicinal plants with antiviral properties against SARS-CoV-2!

So why not fix yourself a good cup of chicory coffee to boost up your immunity to provide one more layer of protection against viral infections naturally!

Read the related article “Best ways to boost up your immune system naturally!” here.

11. Protect your liver!

Studies on rats confirm that chicory is worth being considered as a natural substance to treat damaged liver conditions such as hepatitis.

Read here the related article ” Top 15 coconut oil health benefits!”.

Chicory coffee is a great alternative to regular coffee!

12. Manage your stress!

There is about 95mg of caffeine in a cup of joe. It is now well known that excessive amounts of caffeine consumption can cause side effects like sleeplessness, nausea, heart palpitations, and anxiety. Therefore, less caffeine can reduce stress and cortisol levels.

If you are a coffee addict and wish to reduce your caffeine intake, consider chicory coffee instead of coffee because it is naturally caffeine-free.

I enjoy mixing the two together for a lower-caffeine beverage.

13. Preserve your brain function!

Chicory root contains manganese and vitamin B6, two nutrients that are both known to be good for the brain.

 14. Protect your skin!

As we age, our skin barrier weakens and we start to experience several changes like skin dullness, dryness, sensitivity, redness, and breakouts.

A study on two groups of 50 women aged between 45-60 years shows that chicory root extract has a “vitamin D-like” protective action on the skin:

It successfully proves that chicory root extract had both restructuring and protective effects on the skin. It is an innovative component in cosmetic formulations to improve its barrier function.

Chicory coffee side effects

Despite all its wonderful health virtues (and Like with any food); chicory coffee may not be for everybody.

For instance, it can cause allergy-type symptoms like tingling of the mouth, pain, and swelling in people with allergies to ragweed, marigolds, or daisies.

Additionally, chicory root coffee is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause menstrual bleeding and miscarriage when consumed in larger amounts.

Therefore, make sure to consult your doctor before consuming it when pregnant and breastfeeding.

Finally, chicory coffee is also not recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome. It can cause stomach pain, bloating, and gases as it is fibrous and acts as a prebiotic in your digestive tube.

How to prepare your chicory coffee?

You can buy ground chicory coffee in grocery stores or online. I buy a combination of coffee/chicory but you can also find pure ground chicory on its own if you want no caffeine.

Most brands advise adding two teaspoons in a cup of hot water or adding some pure ground chicory powder into your coffee. I like my chicory coffee with a touch of milk.

Should you give it a try?

If you are trying to eliminate or reduce your caffeine intake, then you surely should try chicory coffee!

Not only that, it has its own unique flavor that you may want to taste!

Please share your thoughts and experience leaving your comment below and if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, why not pin it for later?

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10 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Anne-Caroline,

    I just love learning new things and there is so much I didn’t didn’t know about chicory. Being a chef I have heard about chicory coffee and I’ve seen it in the stores but I’ve never taken the next step and actually purchased some. Reading through your article I was amazed at the particular health benefits regarding cholesterol as I have been struggling with that lately. I need a product that has been shown to be instrumental in lowering cholesterol.

    Is chicory coffee an instant product or can it be made into coffee in a more traditional way?

    This a really comprehensive post of all the benefits of chicory coffee. Awesome.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you for your comment and so happy you discover what are the awesome health benefits of chicory coffee!! Yes you can find instant chicory coffee or you can make it into coffee the traditional way. It is optimal to lower your cholesterol indeed!!

  2. MIchel says:

    I have always known that chicory was added to the coffee that I drink, as I see it on the label, but I had no idea that it was actually good for you.

    With all the health benefits that you have listed here, I am going to look and see if I can find any chicory to try on its own without the coffee, as I fear I drink too much coffee. I am hoping that I can replace my afternoon coffee with chicory rather, and it seems that you love the taste of it so it can’t be too bad.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Michel! I didn’t know either about all the benefits chicory provides! It really tastes good to me but I’ve had it for years now. Thank you for your interest and comment!

  3. Cynthia says:

    This is an interesting post and I have learned a lot!  I always thought chicory coffee was coffee with some added chicory added (like sprinkling cinnamon over your coffee before brewing).  I never guessed it was actually all chicory!  Although I have no desire to give up my 2 cups of coffee each morning, I would like to try chicory for the health benefits at other times of the day.  How many cups are suggested to take advantage of the benefits of this great drink?  

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Cynthia! Glad you’ve learned a lot! You don’t have to give up your cups of coffee. You can drink as many cups of chicory as you wish since it has no caffeine in it. I would say 2 cups is already very beneficial to your health! Thank you for your comment!

  4. Vanabell says:

    Hi Anne! I applaud you for taking your time to share this article!. I totally agree to this review.  Chicory coffee is great. It dissolves easily in hot water with just a few stirs. It does take getting use to and adjusting the amount to your taste, Also I almost forgot it was recommended to me by my doctor to aid digestion.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Vanabell! Thank you for your comment! I am not surprised your doctor recommended you chicory coffee! It does help with digestion indeed!

  5. Thank you for discussing chicory root coffee benefits. You have encouraged me to give it a try. I think I have found what I have been looking for a long time. I need to stop taking coffee. And having a hot beverage that tastes like coffee but is made of roasted chicory root instead of coffee beans is really great!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Glad t helped you want to try it out! I love it and have chicory coffee every morning! 

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