advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is Chicory Good for You?

I've discovered that chicory is in several food products that I use and have read that this ingredient may have some effects on glucose control as well as some diuretic properties. Should chicory be avoided?

A
Answer (Published 11/9/2012)

Chicory, more precisely root chicory (Cichorium intybus), grows all over the United States and is cultivated in Mediterranean areas in Europe, where it is roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. (It looks and tastes something like coffee but is caffeine-free and less expensive than the real thing.) Chicory root is also used as a coffee substitute or additive elsewhere in the world, including the southern United States, particularly in New Orleans. During World War II when shipping from coffee-producing countries was disrupted, chicory was used in the United States to produce "coffee."  Chicory also has been added to certain European beers and ales.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

Chicory doesn't raise blood sugar, but it might trigger reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed pollen and are sensitive to related plants, including chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and other members of the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Because chicory can stimulate the production of bile, consuming it could theoretically be a problem for people with gallstones, but these are unlikely possibilities.

The fact that you're seeing chicory root listed among the ingredients in the foods you buy is because it contains inulin, a carbohydrate fiber. Sometimes called "chicory root fiber," inulin is also found in bananas, wheat, onions, and garlic, but chicory root has very high concentrations. Food manufacturers now extract inulin from chicory root and add it to edible products such as yogurt, ice cream, chocolate bars, breakfast bars, salad dressings and margarine. Because it has a smooth and creamy texture, it has been called the "stealth fiber," and it works well as a replacement for fat. Like other high-fiber foods, inulin prevents constipation, helps maintain a healthy balance of "good" bacteria in the colon, and helps lower cholesterol levels. It can also be used as a sweetener in processed foods - its sweetening power is one-tenth that of sucrose.

The only problem with inulin may be that it doesn't have the texture or taste of fiber. This can make it easy to consume too much, bringing on the same kind of digestive problems caused by an excess of any fiber: gas/bloating, nausea, flatulence, stomach cramping, diarrhea, constipation and digestive "rumbling." A study from the University of Minnesota published in 2010 found that most healthy people can tolerate up to 10 grams of native inulin (one type of inulin product) and five grams of "sweet" inulin (another version) daily. Flatulence was the most common symptom reported by study participants regardless of the type of inulin they consumed. The study was published in the June 2010 Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here