Chicory Health Benefits

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Scientific Name : Cichorium intybus

Common Names : Common chicory, blue sailors, succory, coffeeweed. It is also called cornflower, endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf or witloof.

Chicory (Chihorium intybus) is an erect perennial herbaceous herb of the daisy family which is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. First recorded usage of Chicory was in ancient Egypt where it is believed that is offers health benefits for liver and gallbladder. Since then Chicory has been naturalized and cultivated for its edible leaves and roots in most mild temperate regions, in North America, Chicory can be found alongside roads, fencerows and gardens.

Chicory is a woody plant that can grow to about 10 to 100 cm tall. Chicory has long, deep taproot that is milky inside. Chicory leaves are stalked, hairy, lanceolate and large, coarsely toothed, growing in clustered formation from plant base in spreading rosette while the upper leaves are small. Chicory flowers bloom in mid to late summer until the first frost. Chicory flower heads are 2 to 4 centimeters wide, and usually bright blue, rarely white or pink.

Chicory are prized for its leaves, roots and buds which are edible.  Chicory leaves and buds (chicon) are used for salad and other meal preparation, while chicory roots are used as coffee substitute and additive. Chicory use in herbal medicine has a long history and some of its health benefits has recently been confirmed by science.

Nutritional Value of Chicory

Amount of Chicory (raw): 1 cup

Total Weight of Chicory (raw): 29 g

Nutrients

Amount

Basic Components

Water

26.7 g

Ash

0.4 g

Protein

0.5 g

Calories

Total Calories

6.7

Calories From Carbohydrate

4.7

Calories From Fat

0.7

Calories From Protein

1.2

Carbohydrate

Total Carbohydrate

1.4 g

Dietary Fiber

1.2 g

Sugar

0.2 g

Fats & Fatty Acids

Total Fat

0.1 g

Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids

5.5 mg

Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids

32.5 mg

Vitamins

Vitamin A

1658 IU

Vitamin C

7 mg

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)

0.7 mg

Vitamin K

86.3 mcg

Niacin

0.1 mg

Folate

31.9 mcg

Pantothenic Acid

0.3 mg

Choline

3.7 mg

Minerals

Calcium

29 mg

Iron

0.3 mg

Magnesium

8.7 mg

Phosphorus

13.6 mg

Potassium

12.2 mg

Sodium

13 mg

Zinc

0.1 mg

Copper

0.1 mg

Manganese

0.1 mg

Selenium

0.1 mcg

Health Benefits

Chicory uses are diverse, ranging from its use in salad or as a coffee substitute to detoxifying the body and serving as an anthelmintic. It is also used to treat digestive distress, gall bladder disorders, intestinal worms, and hemorrhoids. Some of the popular uses and benefits of chicory are as follows.

· Chicory helps to regulate the body’s metabolism. Apart from being used in the treatment of digestive ailments and gall bladder disorders, it can also be used to fight depression and fatigue.

· Chicory is also known to be helpful in the management of rheumatism.

· The herb contains inulin, which greatly reduces the risk of intestinal cancer.

· It helps in decreasing glycemia and cholesterol levels, which in turn reduce diabetes and artery sclerosis.

· Today, chicory is sometimes taken internally for jaundice, liver congestion, and gall stones. It helps to keep the liver healthy by stimulating the production of bile. A decoction of the plant’s flowers, seeds, and/or roots is sometimes recommended as an herbal remedy to improve functioning of the liver.

· Chicory extract is believed to have a detoxifying as well as decongestant effect. This can be prepared by boiling the leaves and roots in water till the essence mixes with the water. You can drink this mixture hot to avail of the chicory benefits.

· Chicory root supplements help encourage the body to properly metabolize cholesterol.

· The bruised leaves of chicory are used for making a good poultice for swelling and inflamed eyes.

· The herb helps in preventing osteoporosis, colon cancer and breast cancer.

· Chicory juice, when mixed with juices of carrot, celery and parsley, is a highly nourishing food for optic nerve and muscular system.

· Being a natural laxative, the herb helps in combating chronic constipation.

· With celery and parsley, chicory is believed to be a good tonic for anemia.

· The dry root of chicory is powdered and consumed with honey, to treat chronic bronchitis.

· Being a mild diuretic, chicory eliminates excess water accumulation in the body, which in turns helps in reducing swelling and pain caused during rheumatism and gout.

·The herb is used as a headache reliever and also applied externally, as a compress for arthritis, as it reduces inflammation.

· Chicory also is sometimes recommended as an herbal remedy to stimulate the appetite.

· PMS: Chicory root has been used by women in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) because it is thought to help rebalance hormones in women.

· Lactucin, a bitter component found in chicory, is believed to be responsible for its sedative effect. It can also be used to nullify the effects of caffeine. This is perhaps why it widely preferred over coffee.

Precautions/ Side Effects/ Warnings

Chicory can induce contact dermatitis as a side effect. If consumed orally, it can lead to skin rashes and irritation. Chicory side effects also include its interruption in the role of beta blocker drugs for the heart. It is also best avoided during pregnancy as it can stimulate menstruation. Chicory is also considered to react with bacteria or other organisms during its cultivation, thus resulting in toxicities in people who have used it when it is mature. The intake of chicory should never exceed the recommended daily allowance. It is best to consult a doctor before using this herb for any treatment or therapeutic purposes.

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