Chicory is a plant from the Asteraceae family that produces brilliant blue flowers. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has spread to other regions of the world. Chicory is the primary source of inulin in the food sector, alongside salad, tea, and coffee. Inulin serves as a soluble dietary fibre. This plant’s main natural components are flavonoids, coumarins, tannins, and sesquiterpenes. The extract of the plant enhances the flavour of alcoholic beverages.

Chicory’s medicinal and preventive properties enabled it to be used for a variety of reasons around the world. This versatile plant is strong in carbohydrates, protein, minerals, and bioactive substances with therapeutic effects, such as a moderate laxative action and beta-carotene. However, it may induce allergic reactions or interfere with other medications.

chicory root chicory flowers wild plant alternative medicine cichorium intybus

Nutritional Profile of Chicory

Carbohydrate (Inulin): The inulin of the chicory herb is mostly found in the roots and leaves of the plant. A fructose polymer containing carbohydrates is called inulin. Inulin is resistant to being hydrolyzed by the digestive enzymes found in humans because of its β-configuration. Inulin is used to change the texture of food products and replace fat and sugar. The chicory plant’s inulin can improve mineral absorption, lessen constipation, and cause blood lipid regulation.

Phenolic Compound: The chicory leaves contain a higher amount of phenolics in different fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, beetroot, melon, green veggies, and others. The chicory seeds contain polyphenol compounds. The roots and leaves contain caffeic acid, chicoric acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, and others.

Minerals and Protein: The chicory seed is considered a good source of amino acids compared to oil seeds, legumes such as sunflowers, and ground nuts. Leaves have the richest content of free amino acids and water-soluble protein content, while roots contain an appreciable amount of salt-soluble protein content. Chicory root is a good source of minerals, including calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, manganese, and magnesium.

Fatty Acids and Vitamins: The chicory plant’s energy store contains fatty acids with significant quantities such as linoleic, palmitic, linolenic, stearic, behenic, and eicosanoid acids. The vitamin composition of chicory plant leaves includes B2, B6, B1, A, and C.

Biological Activity

Antimicrobial Properties: Chicory extracts have demonstrated antimicrobial activity against certain bacteria and fungi, such as Streptococcus and Escherichia coli. This potential role for chicory in the development of natural antimicrobial agents

Anti-diabetic Effects: The traditional use of chicory suggests anti-diabetic properties. It may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, making it of interest in the management of diabetes. A chicoric acid is a novel option for anti-diabetic medication that could both secrete and detect insulin.

Hepatoprotective Effects: Chicory may have hepatoprotective properties, meaning it could help protect the liver from damage. This is of interest in the context of liver health and conditions such as liver inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Properties: Chicory has been reported to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. This property is often attributed to compounds like chicoric acid and other phenolic compounds present in the plant. Inflammation is associated with various chronic diseases and substances with anti-inflammatory properties may have therapeutic potential.

Antioxidant Activity: Chicory contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, which can help neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are reactive molecules that can contribute to oxidative stress, which is implicated in various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Why Chicory root is a versatile herb with a variety of health benefits?

Chicory roots have been utilized for a variety of purposes. They may be added to culinary products to enhance flavor; the roots can be extracted and used as medication; and they can even be used cosmetically. The dry powder of chicory root was used as a replacement for the flour, which contains fibers, pectin, and cellulose. Its health-promoting effects can reduce cholesterol. Chicory root can be used as a natural sweetener and can be added to coffee or tea to enhance the flavor.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is used as an adulterant or substitute for coffee or tea

As a coffee substitute:

Chicory root can be roasted and ground into a powder that can be used as a coffee substitute. It has a similar flavor to coffee, but it is lower in caffeine and contains more fiber.

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To improve digestion

Chicory root contains inulin, a soluble fiber that can help improve digestion. Inulin is a prebiotic, which means that it feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

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To lower cholesterol

Chicory root contains antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol. These antioxidants help to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol.

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As a natural sweetener

Chicory root can be used as a natural sweetener. It has a slightly sweet taste, but it is not as sweet as sugar. Chicory root can be added to coffee, tea, or other beverages to sweeten them without adding calories.

Chicory root is a versatile and healthy herb that can be used in a variety of ways. It is a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can help improve your health.

crushed coffee beans with some chicory flowers

Why Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is used as an adulterant for coffee or tea

Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a plant that produces tasty leaves and roots. The roots are roasted and crushed into a coffee replacement or addition, particularly in the Mediterranean, New Orleans, and India. It has a bitter and chocolate-like taste but has no caffeine and It lowers the price, improves the flavour, or alters the effects of caffeine.

The quality of Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is mentioned in regulatory quality parameters as per FSSR regulation No 2.10.3. The quality parameter for pure Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.)  and Coffee- Chicory Mixture is given below:


Table: Tables are taken from FSSR-regulation No-2.10.3 CHICORY (CICHORIUM INTYBUS L.)

Sl. No Parameter Limit values

Total ash (on a dry basis) m/m


Not less than 3.5 percent and Not more than 8.0 percent
2 Acid insoluble ash (on a dry basis) m/m in diluted HCl Not more than 2.5 percent
3 Aqueous extracts (on a dry basis) m/m Not less than 55.0 percent


1 Moisture Not more than 5.0 percent.
2 Total ash on dry basis Not more than 7.50 per cent
3 Acid-insoluble ash on a dry basis Not more than 0.6 percent.
4 Caffeine content on a dry basis Not less than 0.6 percent.
5 Aqueous extracts Not more than 50 percent.

Authors: Aditi Pareek, Sajid Hussain, and Dr. Sanjoy Gupta

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