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Chicory root comes from a plant with bright blue flowers that belongs to the dandelion family.
Employed for centuries in cooking and traditional medicine, it’s commonly used to make a coffee alternative, as it has a similar taste and color.
The fiber from this root is purported to have numerous health benefits and often extracted for use as a food additive or supplement.
Here are 5 emerging benefits and uses of chicory root fiber.
Fresh chicory root is composed of 68% inulin by dry weight (
Inulin is a type of fiber known as a fructan or fructooligosaccharide, a carbohydrate made from a short chain of fructose molecules that your body doesn’t digest.
It acts as a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These helpful bacteria play a role in reducing inflammation, fighting harmful bacteria, and improving mineral absorption (
Thus, chicory root fiber may promote optimal gut health in a variety of ways.
Chicory root is primarily composed of inulin, a prebiotic that encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Since the inulin in chicory root fiber passes through your body undigested and feeds your gut bacteria, it may promote healthy digestion.
In particular, studies suggest that inulin can relieve constipation (
A 4-week study in 44 adults with constipation found that taking 12 grams of chicory inulin per day helped soften stool and significantly increased bowel movement frequency, compared with taking a placebo (
In a study in 16 people with low stool frequency, taking a daily dose of 10 grams of chicory inulin increased the number of bowel movements from 4 to 5 per week, on average (7).
Keep in mind that most studies have focused on chicory inulin supplements, so more research is needed on its fiber as an additive.
Due to its inulin content, chicory root fiber may help relieve constipation and increase stool frequency.
Chicory root fiber may boost blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes.
This may be due to its inulin, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria involved in carbohydrate metabolism — which breaks down carbs into sugars — and sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that helps absorb sugar from the blood (
Chicory root fiber likewise contains compounds like chicoric and chlorogenic acids, which have been shown to increase muscle sensitivity to insulin in rodent studies (
A 2-month study in 49 women with type 2 diabetes found that taking 10 grams of inulin per day led to significant decreases in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c, a measurement of average blood sugar, compared with taking a placebo (
Notably, the inulin used in this study is known as high-performance inulin and often added to baked goods and drinks as a sugar substitute. It has a slightly different chemical composition than other types of inulin (
Thus, more research is needed on chicory root fiber in particular.
Inulin and other compounds in chicory root may help improve blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes.
Some studies suggest that chicory root fiber may regulate appetite and decrease overall calorie intake, possibly leading to weight loss.
A 12-week study in 48 adults with excess weight determined that taking 21 grams per day of chicory-derived oligofructose, which is very similar to inulin, led to a significant, 2.2-pound (1-kg) average reduction in body weight — while the placebo group gained weight (
This study also found that oligofructose helped decrease levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger (
Other research has yielded similar results but mostly tested inulin or oligofructose supplements — not chicory root fiber (
Chicory root fiber may aid weight loss by reducing appetite and curbing calorie intake, though more studies are necessary.
Chicory root fiber is easy to add to your diet. In fact, you may already be consuming it without realizing it, as it’s sometimes used as an additive in packaged foods.
It’s increasingly common to see chicory root processed for its inulin, which is used to increase fiber content or serve as a sugar or fat substitute due to its gelling properties and slightly sweet flavor, respectively (
That said, it can be used in home cooking as well. Some specialty shops and grocery stores carry the whole root, which is often boiled and eaten as a vegetable.
What’s more, if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake, you can use roasted and ground chicory root as a coffee replacement. To make this rich beverage, add 2 tablespoons (11 grams) of ground chicory root for every 1 cup (240 ml) of water in your coffeemaker.
Finally, inulin from chicory root can be extracted and made into supplements that are widely available online or at health stores.
Whole chicory root can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable, whereas ground chicory is often brewed with water to make a coffee-like drink. As a rich source of inulin, it can likewise be found in packaged foods and supplements.
Chicory root has been used for centuries for culinary and medicinal purposes and is considered generally safe for most people.
However, its fiber may cause gas and bloating when eaten in excess.
The inulin that’s used in packaged foods or supplements is sometimes chemically altered to make it sweeter. If inulin has not been modified, it’s usually referred to as “native inulin” (
Studies suggest that native inulin may be better tolerated and lead to fewer episodes of gas and bloating than other types (
While 10 grams of inulin per day is a standard dose for studies, some research proposes a higher tolerance for both native and altered inulin (
Still, no official recommended dosage for chicory root fiber has been established. If you want to take it as a supplement, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider beforehand.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also consult a health professional before trying chicory, as research on its safety in these populations is limited (
Lastly, people with allergies to ragweed or birch pollen should avoid chicory, as it may trigger similar reactions (
Whole, ground, and supplemental chicory root is generally considered safe but can cause gas and bloating in some people.
Chicory root fiber is derived from a plant that belongs to the dandelion family and primarily composed of inulin.
It has been linked to improved blood sugar control and digestive health, among other health benefits.
While chicory root is common as a supplement and food additive, it can be used as a coffee substitute as well.
If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of this fiber, try boiling the whole root to eat with a meal or brewing chicory root coffee for a hot beverage.