Chicory is a wild-flower-like perennial plant, native to Europe, and cultivated today in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany in addition to a few places in North America. While chicory’s most popular form of consumption here in the U.S. is that of chicory root coffee, it is used in several other forms as well. The chicory flower can be found in essential oil blends or concentrates, and its pedals are picked and put into salads all around the world.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) has a long stick-like hairy stem which stands 3 to 5 feet above the earth’s surface and supports vibrant blueish-purple flowers. Often looked-over in nature as a weed-like-flower (it can be seen growing roadside in some American states), it makes sense that chicory comes from the same family as the dandelion plant (Asteraceae).

Though this plant can typically be found year round at major supermarkets (unfortunately there is less demand at small markets in the U.S. currently), it is best and naturally harvested towards the end of fall and beginning of winter. Chicory can be found in different varieties including Belgian endive, radicchio (Italian chicory), and puntarelle.

With a wide range of ways to cook and prepare chicory leaves and roots, it all depends on personal preference. In Italy, the variety radicchio is frequently grilled with olive oil, and in the U.S. you will find the radicchio as an ingredient in many pastas, pizzas, and risottos.    

Chicory root holds several healing and regulatory properties including but not limited to: the promotion of a healthy microbiome in the gut and digestion system, the support of blood sugar and blood lipid management, and the management of osteoarthritis in addition to other bone diseases.

With the high percent (about 17%) of natural insulin-like compounds called fructans found in dried chicory root, it has been the focus of some very intriguing research in relation to chicory’s role in managing and preventing diabetes. Findings show that replacing sugars with chicory root fiber (found in the roots) helps significantly to reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels, delaying or preventing early onset of diabetes mellitus. 

Resources and Further Reading

Glycemic Index: 0

“How to Buy, Store & Use Chicory”:

Discussion and summary of “Chicory Root Fiber, Inulin, Oligofructose And Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)” which goes into greater detail some of the above mentioned health benefits:

Chicory Plant, from “The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica”:

CUESA “Chicory”:

A study about chicory root and its impact on blood glucose and lipid metabolism, ““Effects of the extract from roasted chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root containing inulin-type fructans on blood glucose, lipid metabolism, and fecal properties” from “Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (2015)”:


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