If you’re in love with your morning coffee fix but ready to try a nutrient-rich, caffeine-free alternative, you’re not alone. Letting go of my caffeine addiction is hard—and seriously, I’m taking it day by day at this point—but there’s a little secret making my healthy moves a little easier:
If you haven’t heard of this trending coffee alternative already, I’ve unpacked the best of the interwebs to find all the info you need right here. Chicory coffee is so much more than just a caffeine-free alternative to your old faithful dark roast. It’s actually pretty impressive for a little plant root.
So today I’m here to tell you all about the benefits of this cool little coffee replacement that’s been consuming way too much space in my head lately. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need some pretty strong data to sway you from your morning java…but I think you’re going to be impressed, my friend!
What Is Chicory Coffee?
Before we get started, you might want to know what chicory coffee actually is, right? If you want the full monty, check out this article right here.
But if you just want the basics before we launch right into the chicory coffee benefits—I’ve got you.
Chicory is a plant from the dandelion family. It’s got pale purple flowers that chefs—and super fancy home cooks—use to decorate salads and savory foods.
To make the actual chicory coffee, the root of the plant is minced, dried, and ground up like coffee beans. Once ground, it can either be blended with ground coffee beans—in any ratio you like—or used as a total coffee replacement, brewed with water and mixed with milk, cream, half ‘n’ half, or on its own.
What Does Chicory Coffee Taste Like?
I find it pretty similar to a medium coffee roast, but slightly more acidic. Chicory is described as woody, nutty, and slightly bitter.
I wrote an entire article about what chicory coffee tastes like if you're interested!
Why is Chicory Coffee so Popular?
It was cultivated as a medicine by the ancient Egyptians, and also used as a food by ancient Romans and ancient Greeks. Then, in the 1800s, Napoleon’s France ran out of coffee. The country raced to find an alternative and chicory coffee was born.
Coffee eventually made its way back into the mainstream. When the American Civil War started, Union blockades stopped coffee from getting into New Orleans—the coffee capital of the South. Thanks to massive imports of chicory at the time—millions of pounds worth—a new relationship with chicory coffee was ignited.
After the war ended, New Orleans locals decided they actually liked their new drink, so they kept it. If you’re looking to try one of the best chicory coffees in the world, head down to Café du Monde and order a chicory café au lait with a side of beignets. (You’re welcome!)
And now, on to…
The Benefits of Chicory Coffee
Chicory Coffee is jam packed with benefits, which is one of the reasons I made the switch. Here are some of the biggest benefits of chicory coffee:
1. Healthy Nutrition Profile
In its most basic form, raw chicory root contains (per 60 grams):
- 44 calories
- 0.1g fat
- 10g carbohydrate
- 1g fiber
- 1g protein
In addition to the macronutrients, chicory root contains some pretty appealing vitamins and micronutrients.
- Vitamin C
2. Reduces Stress
In our chaotic world, the next chicory coffee benefit I want to point out is easily one of the most appealing. Who doesn’t want less stress in their lives, amirite?
And unfortunately, coffee is not a good sidekick for that particular mission. Caffeine is known to heighten stress, trigger increased levels of cortisol in our bloodstream, and give us feelings of anxiety (that jittery, anxious feeling). Reducing your caffeine intake by even 50% can lower your cortisol levels and reduce anxiety.
When I first considered chicory coffee as my breakfast beverage alternative, I figured I had two options: drink half as many coffees every day, switch to decaf, or try a 50/50 chicory/coffee blend. Cutting back on the number of coffees was unthinkable (and to be fair, so was drinking decaf). That left 50/50 chicory coffee blend, and I haven’t looked back.
3. Combats Inflammation
Chicory is full of polyphenols. They sound fancy but really, they’re just natural, plant-based compounds that fight inflammation in our bodies. Consuming chicory coffee over a 7-day period led to patients experiencing improved red blood cell restoration. Seven days—just one week—to reduced inflammation.
Inflammation is the culprit responsible for many of our chronic health conditions, so finding ways to reduce inflammation and care for our autoimmunity is vital.
4. Helps The Digestive System
We’ll explore more about chicory root and inulin later in this article, but one of its many benefits is relieving constipation. In elderly people, especially, just 15 grams of inulin per day can relieve constipation on a regular basis, relieve gastrointestinal discomfort, and stop bloating. As a naturally high-fiber food, it can also help remedy irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and gas.
5. Helps Prevent The Onset of Type II Diabetes
Type II Diabetes is manageable, for the most part, through diet and exercise. Chicory root can actually help support a good diet plan on a few levels:
- Helps patients to stay fuller, for longer
- Improved digestive function and bowel movements
- Improved stability of blood sugar levels
6. Protects Liver Function
Our livers play a pretty vital role in protecting us, and let’s be honest—we don’t generally do a whole lot to look after them. Your liver helps filter out toxins—from that cheeky wine with lunch or the ice cream binge with your girlfriends. Chicory root can help protect your liver from free radical formation, reduce oxidation, and block cell damage. That’s huge!
Chicory root is so rich in antioxidants, in fact, that it might help boost our immune systems and eliminate free radical damage in our bodies.
7. Helps Manage Rheumatic Diseases
Chicory root has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory powers—which may be able to treat osteoarthritis. In studies, patients with hip and knee arthritis were given chicory root extract for 30 days. At the end of that time, 75% of the patients reported reduced hip and knee pain, reduced swelling, and less stiffness.
One of the main benefits of chicory root is the one I already touched on… but there’s a lot more to say about it. I’m talking about inulin.
Chicory root contains a fiber called inulin. It’s a plant-based carb that doesn’t get broken down by our digestive tract, meaning it’s a soluble fiber (our bodies love that)
Soluble fiber can hold water and swell, which means it can add bulk to foods. These kinds of fibers take a long time to move through the digestive tract, too, meaning your body thinks it's full for a lot longer.
The added benefit of soluble fibers is that they help stabilize our blood sugar levels, meaning we don’t experience the highs and lows of a sugar crash.
You can probably already see where I’m going with this: chicory root is excellent for weight management.
Big food companies already use chicory root in their diet plans. It’s cheap to produce, adds bulk to flimsy diet foods, and can be manufactured as a natural sweetener to add flavor—but not calories—to foods. As a plant-based carb, it’s also pretty common in keto diet foods.
9. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Recent studies out of Korea have shown that chicory root increases HDL (the good type of cholesterol) and lowers LDL (the bad type) in animals. Although studies are in their early days, this is promising news for a lot of issues that come with our sedentary, high-fat lifestyles.
10. Reduces Insomnia And Restlessness
Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. But one of the biggest issues that pulled me away from caffeine and towards chicory coffee (my new favorite comfort drink) was the restlessness. If caffeinated coffee makes you restless, or causes you to have difficulty falling asleep—I cannot recommend chicory coffee highly enough.
For a completely caffeine-free drink, you can brew chicory straight. Add your favorite spices or toppings (I love vanilla bean and cream) and you’ve got a comforting, nutty, caffeine-free cup of deliciousness.
Likewise, if too much caffeine has your heart racing or your stomach turning, this is the perfect time to turn to chicory coffee. It can help settle your digestive system, sedate a racing heart, and calm you down for a better night’s sleep.
Chicory Coffee is Very Beneficial
Phew—we did it! We unpacked all the benefits of swapping out your morning brew for a caffeine-reduced (or straight up caffeine-free) chicory coffee. If chicory coffee has caught your attention, there are some great ones to try. In my next article, I’ll be showing you how to create your own delicious brew at home, and how I like mine.
In the meantime, tell me about you! What makes you want to give chicory coffee a try?