Looking to cut back on your caffeine intake? We know how hard it can be to go without a morning java — and decaf can feel like we’re just kidding ourselves. It turns out, there’s a naturally caffeine-free alternative out there with extra health perks you might be missing: chicory coffee.
Despite the name, chicory coffee isn’t actually coffee at all. It tastes a lot like a regular cup of joe, but it’s made from ground up chicory root rather than any beans. The root also happens to contain nutrients like magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and even a little dash of protein.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about chicory coffee is its ability to help maintain healthy gut bacteria as one of the highest natural sources of a prebiotic soluble fiber called inulin. Research has shown this fiber is particularly helpful for balancing blood sugar and even losing weight.
One study that focused specifically on diabetic women discovered that inulin helped to decrease their fasting blood sugar levels, which resulted in much better long-term balance. Another group of scientists found that inulin reduced insulin resistance by lowering the level of fat in their participants’ liver — which they claim can reverse type 2 diabetes.
As for shedding pounds, a study compared the effect of inulin versus cellulose fiber on participants’ weight over a span of 18 weeks. After nine weeks, they discovered that the participants who were given inulin lost a more significant amount than the cellulose group. The researchers noted how this can also help with lowering the risk of developing diabetes, but it can be just as nice for anyone who simply wants to lose a few inches.
One drawback: Chicory root comes from the same plant family as ragweed and birch pollen. If you’re allergic to those, you should probably steer clear of the beverage.
But if that isn’t a problem, it’s easy to find chicory online (Buy from Walmart, $5.99) and brew it just as you would normal coffee. For those who aren’t quite ready to totally give up on caffeine, you could try a blend like French Market Restaurant Blend Coffee & Chicory (Buy from Walmart, $5.48). This popular New Orleans mixture of regular coffee and chicory will give you all the health perks, plus an energy boost — but with less danger of over-caffeinated jittery side effects.
This article was updated on September 28, 2022.
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