Is chicory coffee a healthy substitute for traditional coffee?

Coffee is the lifeblood for many of us, but it can have some not-so-great side effects like insomnia, high blood pressure, headache, anxiety, and more (via Nutrition Advance). Chicory coffee has gained popularity recently as a caffeine-free alternative to the stuff we are all desperately addicted to — but is it all it’s chalked up to be?

What is chicory anyway? Chicory is a pretty perennial plant with periwinkle flowers that open and close at the same time each day. It’s easy to spot in North America and throughout Europe. The plant is thought to be one of the oldest recorded crops. It’s native to northern Africa, western Asia, and Europe. Apparently ancient Egyptians knew it was worth their time and cultivated it as well. It was found to be an ideal substitute during a coffee shortage in France in the 1800s (via The Spruce Eats).

Chicory coffee has a similar flavor to coffee but is derived from a roasted chicory root. There is evidence suggesting that the drink may help ease inflammation, lower blood sugar, and improve gut health.

Chicory has many health benefits

It’s also a good source of the prebiotic fiber inulin, which has been linked to weight loss. If that’s not enough to convince you the stuff might be a good alternative to your morning cup o’ joe, maybe its many vitamins like manganese and vitamin B6 which are tied to brain health will (via Healthline).

Like most supplements and herbs, there are a few potential risks if you decide to add chicory into your daily routine. The root is possibly unsafe to consume during pregnancy, so if you are looking for an alternative to coffee because you’ve got a baby on the way, look elsewhere. It’s also possible that chicory will cause an allergic reaction for people who have allergies to plants in the ragweed family. People with diabetes should act with caution when drinking chicory coffee because of its potential to lower blood sugar levels. Lastly, if you have a history of gallstones, the drink is not a good fit for you (via WebMD).

After weighing all the pros and cons of both traditional coffee and chicory coffee, if you aren’t at risk for any of the side effects of chicory, the root-based beverage can be a healthy, caffeine-free alternative to coffee.

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