The Cichorium plant is divided into two species: one is widely known as endive (Cichorium endivia) and the other as chicory (Cichorium pumilum). We only consume the leaves of the endive, but in the case of the chicory plant, we can also eat the root. And as with every root vegetable, its nutritional profile is high in fiber and nutrients. Let's see what makes the chicory root stand out from other root vegetables.
A Photo of Endives (Cichorium endivia)
In this article, we shall examine the nutritional profile of the Chicory plant, as seen in the picture below. We will provide recipes with endives at the end of the article.
Chicory Plant (Cichorium pumilum)
As mentioned in the introduction, the parts you eat are the leaves and the root. You can boil, roast, or steam them, although you may prefer to only boil the roots specifically. Endives, on the other hand, can be eaten raw or cooked. Unlike endives, the chicory plant (Cichorium pumilum) grows lovely blue flowers. Here's a summary of its nutritional profile according to Healthline:
Each root (around 60g) of chicory contains:
Protein: 0.8 g
Carbs: 10.5 g
Fat: 0.1 g
Fiber: 0.9 g.
In addition, chicory root contains manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, phosphorus, and folate. These are present in pretty low amounts, but when consumed daily in a brewed drink, the values add up. Chicory is also a good source of fiber and inulin, which is responsible for most of its health benefits. Inulin is a potent prebiotic (meaning, it feeds good microbes in your microbiome), and it contributes to a healthy digestion of carbohydrates. As a result, inulin helps lower blood sugar levels. It is also abundantly found in Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, and leeks. Read more about inulin here.
Chicory will also help with constipation and inflammation. Despite all these benefits, it is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it can lead to miscarriage and menstrual bleeding. People with allergies to ragweed or birch pollen should also avoid chicory, as it may trigger allergic reactions.
Chicory root has been used for over 2 centuries as a coffee substitute. It was discovered when coffee supplies were low and people discovered that it has a very similar taste to coffee. The preparation process is alike as well: the chicory root is minced, roasted, and brewed into coffee.
Today, chicory root is used to help reduce caffeine intake. You can either make a 100% chicory drink or dilute your coffee with some chicory to make a low-caffeine beverage. Two tablespoons of chicory powder make 1 cup o' joe. The taste, while similar to coffee, has an added woodsy and nutty flavor. Read more about chicory coffee and other coffee substitutes here.
Incorporate Chicory in Your Diet
Meals that are prepared with the leaves and roots of the chicory plant will help slow down digestion, keeping you full for longer, thus helping with weight loss. Diabetics will also benefit from incorporating it into their diet, as it aids in lowering blood sugar levels. Finally, chicory can help with lowering cholesterol. What's not to like?
Try this vegan recipe of sautéed chicory leaves. You can add it to many other dishes:
A video recipe of chicken and endives cooked in wine by chef Gordon Ramsay:
A video recipe of a classic endive salad: