Lately, one of the biggest trending things in the wellness world is chicory root. Have you seen it?
This humble little root from the dandelion family can be minced and dried, and brewed in much the same way as our beloved coffee.
And here’s the kicker: chicory root may just be a healthier replacement for our morning caffeine hit.
Not convinced? I don’t blame you. I’ve been about that café life forever, and it took me a while to even consider an alternative to my daily cup(s) of joe.
But since I made the leap, my body has thanked me. If you’re thinking it’s time to wean yourself out of caffeine addiction, you’ve come to the right place.
Because today I’m lining up every reason I think chicory coffee is the best coffee substitute for java junkies everywhere.
1. Chicory coffee is naturally caffeine-Free
This has got to be the most popular reason people I know have made the switch to chicory coffee. If you can’t stand decaf—raises hand awkwardly—chicory coffee could be a great option for you.
Your basic cup of coffee has around 90 mg of caffeine. This is going to vary based on several factors: the size of your cup of coffee (I’m looking at you, Starbucks Grande), the beans used, the type of roast, brewing method, freshness of your beans, etc.
Whilst caffeine has some substantial health benefits, it’s also got a lot of downsides that have seen many people making the switch away from coffee.
Some of the negative side-effects you might notice after your morning caffeine hit are:
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Digestive upset or diarrhea
- Heart palpitations
In one study, healthy men were shown to have almost double the baseline levels of stress hormones in their bloodstream after consuming 300 mg of caffeine, compared to when they had not consumed any caffeine.
300 mg of caffeine may sound like a lot, but a Starbucks Grande Coffee has 330 mg of caffeine. And the perennially popular Starbucks Venti Coffee pumps a whopping 415 mg of caffeine into your system.
Chicory root, on the other hand, is totally caffeine-free. You can even tailor your chicory coffee to your own tastes: blend it 50/50 with your coffee grounds to halve your caffeine intake.
2. Chicory coffee can help decrease inflammation in our bodies
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to damage. Your cells react to protect a damaged area so that it can heal—which is absolutely what needs to happen.
Sometimes, though, the body gets a little out of whack, and we get chronic inflammation—ongoing inflammation that isn’t reacting to damage. Quite the opposite, actually—chronic inflammation is the cause of the damage.
This is the type of inflammation that leads to serious medical conditions like type II diabetes, heart disease, Crohn’s disease, asthma, ulcers, etc.
Studies done into the effect chicory root has on inflammation have shown that this humble little plant root reduces several inflammation markers. In pigs, dried chicory root decreased inflammation, too.
As with a lot of health claims that can be made, we’ve still got a lot of research to do to get a clear idea of how much chicory root we need to be consuming for these amazing benefits.
But at the same time, it’s pretty encouraging to know that making the switch to a healthier coffee alternative may support us in living our best lives.
3. Chicory coffee can lower blood sugar
Insulin resistance is when your body doesn’t react properly to the insulin it makes. Your blood sugar levels go up, and you are at risk of heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.
Chicory root contains a compound called inulin, a soluble plant fiber that can help your body metabolize carbs and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
In studies, inulin has been shown to reduce insulin resistance in pre-diabetic patients, and control blood sugar in rats. In another study on women with type II diabetes, a daily supplement of 10 g of inulin reduced blood sugar levels by 8.5%.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that sugar is one of the leading culprits when it comes to elevated blood sugar, so switching your coffee for a chicory coffee with caramel syrup and sweetened full-fat cream probably won’t do your blood sugar any favors.
4. Chicory coffee can Improve Your Gut Health
Sure, this one may be TMI, but it’s a pretty strong selling point for switching out your daily cup of joe for a chicory coffee.
Because chicory root contains inulin, a soluble plant fiber, it’s great for your gut health. This kind of fiber moves through your body without breaking down, so your gut bacteria feed on it.
A healthy gut bacteria means better, more regular bowel movements, less gas, less bloating, and softer poop.
Chicory root is made up of almost 70% inulin, so it’s a reliable source of fiber in our diets. Because it’s a prebiotic, it also helps to reduce inflammation in the gut, fight harmful bacteria, feed good bacteria—especially helpful if you’ve been on antibiotics recently—and improve mineral absorption.
5. Chicory coffee may help with weight loss
Ok, so in the interests of full disclosure, coffee is pretty good for weight loss, too. Caffeine boosts short-term energy levels, and makes us feel more alert and awake.
This is great for inspiring us to exercise harder, for longer, which in turn helps us with our weight loss goals. Caffeine has also been shown to elevate our metabolism short term, which means we’re burning slightly more calories, even at rest.
Chicory works on our weight loss in a different way.
Chicory root helps regulate appetite and decrease hunger levels. In a recent study, consuming chicory but changing nothing else about diet and activity levels led to a 2-lb weight loss in a group of 48 overweight adults.
6. Chicory coffee fights your energy slump
I have a confession that half the planet can sympathize with: I have never been a morning person.
For years, I’ve hit snooze on my phone until my boyfriend gives up and turns it off completely. I’d leave it in the kitchen overnight—on full volume—under the misguided impression that I’d feel energized if I had to get up to turn it off.
I even got that fancy alarm app that makes you work out puzzles to shut off the buzzer. Whatever I did, I’d still end up back in bed, staring dazedly at nothing, wishing it was Sunday.
Since I made the big switch, things have changed. I’m still not super enthusiastic at 6 in the morning, but I’m able to wake up to my alarm and behave like a human being. Heck, I can even carry on a conversation!
Up until I cut back on my caffeine intake, I just figured morning zombie was my default setting. I’ve been a coffee fan my whole adult life (and a dabbler through most of my teens) so it didn’t occur to me that my morning energy slump could be linked to that.
After all, caffeine stops you from falling asleep…it doesn’t stop you from waking up. Right?
Caffeine can cause sleep disturbances in many ways—and one of those is difficulty waking up.
If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, it could just be that—like most of the world—the call of your cozy blanket nest is too strong. Or, like I’ve discovered, it could be that caffeine is acting on you in ways you didn’t know it could.
7. Chicory coffee is better than decaf
I’ve spent most of this article rattling off the reasons why chicory coffee is the best coffee substitute.
When I made the decision to drop my caffeine intake, I proudly announced it to my mother. My mom is a woman who would absorb coffee directly into her veins, if she could.
As a long-time espresso loyalist, she was horrified. Her suggestion, said with not a small amount of disdain, was “what about decaf?”
Don’t get me wrong, decaf is great for some people. But part of my journey to being caffeine free was to improve my health. And chicory coffee is just a lot healthier than decaf coffee.
- Decaf doesn’t offer any weight loss benefits when compared to coffee. Chicory coffee does.
- Decaf doesn’t reduce inflammation. Chicory does.
- Decaf doesn’t contain enzymes to help liver function. Chicory does.
- Decaf doesn’t contain soluble fiber to help digestion. Chicory does.
- Decaf doesn’t have any impact on blood sugar levels. Chicory does.
Ready to Try This Coffee Substitute?
If you’ve made the decision to ease off the espresso and improve your wellbeing with chicory coffee—welcome, friend! My best advice for making the switch is to try some of the delicious chicory coffee blends on the market.
There’s a lot to choose from (I made a whole list of them), but two of my favorite brands can be blended with ground coffee to reduce—but not eliminate—your caffeine intake. They can also be brewed as-is for a delicious, healthy coffee substitute:
Experiment with different blends and ratios until your body responds, and remember that you don’t have to go cold turkey. Chicory coffee can be blended in any ratio you choose, so you can get the best of both worlds.