Chicory: The Super-Green European

The chicory was born in the mediterranean region of Europe and its numerous benefits make it a great addition to your diet. Find out all about this vegetable!

The chicory is an herb native to Europe, used as a medicinal plant, substitute of coffee, or follow-up on the plate. This is of low energy value, nutritious, and serves as a source of various vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Chicory The Super-Green European

The leaves of chicory are very appreciated in the cuisine of different cultures, which are present in the salads, in the preparation of soups, sauces, purees, pies and many other recipes. When cooked, the bitter taste typical tends to decrease.

Want to know more about this vegetable rich?

WHAT IS CHICORY?

The chicory is a herbaceous plant, scientific name cichorium intybus, belonging to the family Asteraceae, in which are included many thousands of species, among them the lettuces, the sunflowers and the daisies.

Plant of mediterranean origin, and subsequently naturalized in different regions of North America, Europe and Australia, the chicory stands out as a green vegetable, very nutritious and full of medicinal properties.

The part consumed of chicory are their leaves, which can be smooth or ribbed, and have a characteristic flavour, lightly bitter. The roots of chicory are tuberous and very often used, when roasted, in the production of a substitute for coffee, especially in Europe.

The main producers of chicory are Italy, Spain, France, the United States and the Netherlands. This is also known as chicory, bitter chicory, endive, coriander-brazilian, among other names.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE

The chicory is very rich nutritionally, in that it offers a large amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals associated with a low energy value.

100 g of chicory, raw contain, on average:

Energy (kcal) 14
Lipids (g) 0,1
Carbohydrates (g) 0,9
Fiber (g) 2,6
Water (g) 95
Vitamin A total (µg) 20
Carotene (µg) 120
Thiamine (mg) 0,06
Riboflavin (mg) 0,09
Niacin (mg) 0,3
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0,05
Vitamin C (mg) 2
Folatos (µg) 14
Sodium (mg) 4
Potassium (mg) 170
Calcium (mg) 30
Phosphorus (mg) 23
Magnesium (mg) 6
Iron (mg) 0,3
Zinc (mg) 0,1

HOW TO USE CHICORY?

When we talk about the use of chicory, it should be noted that there are two components very different from this plant, which can be used in different ways: the roots and the leaves.

In addition, it is also essential to know how to preserve and conserve the chicory for as long as possible, so that their properties can be explored in its fullness.

HOW TO SAVE:

Chicory loses quality quickly after harvest. Out of the fridge, this can be maintained for a period of 1 day, with the lower part of a glass with water or inside a plastic bag open, in a cool place.

Inside the refrigerator, this should be kept in a closed plastic or in a plastic container covered for up to 3 days, removing the leaves as they are necessary. After the bite, the chicory must be kept in a plastic bag or in a closed container.

The chicory can also be frozen, provided that it is not raw. This must be cooked and then well drained all the water. After this process, it should be placed in a plastic bag, being taken out all of the liquid and air so as to stay in vacuum and then frozen.

HOW TO CONSUME:

The leaves of chicory can be used in raw, in salads, or cooked, sautéed, and even steamed, as an accompaniment to meat or fish. In many countries, this is also used as an herb, aromatic, on the replacement of the coriander.

In addition, you can also add chicory to your smoothies, or natural juices, quiches, omelettes, soup and purees of vegetables… It only takes a little imagination!

However, the best way to consume the chicory is raw, in salads, for better utilization of its nutritional value and, more specifically, of the fiber. If you like to add the fried or other preparations that require you to cook it, try adding it at the end of the preparation of the dish, so as to avoid that this is cooked in excess.

In cases that eat chicory raw, it is essential that wash and higienize the leaves individually under running water and, after this, that they are well dried.

In turn, the roots of chicory are usually roasted in ovens specific and subsequently milled, for the production of a compound and dark energy, much used in coffee blends. Another component present in the root of the chicory is the latex. This compound is used as an agent depurative, laxative and diuretic.

THE BENEFITS OF CHICORY

The chicory is a vegetable that is characterized by its taste a little bitter. However, its most important component are the nutritional properties it contains.

As a promoter of digestion, the best friend of the diets, their benefits spend by the heart, kidneys, muscles and liver, among others. The enemy of stress and aging, the reasons to add this vegetable to your day-to-day do not end.

1. PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS

With 14kcal per 100g, we can say that the weight loss is one of the benefits of chicory. To be a food with low energy value, the chicory contributes to the reduction of the number of calories you eat while increasing your satiety and still provides the nutrients needed by the body.

Actually, a survey conducted by the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, has identified that the fiber found in the root of the chicory can help to reduce the energy consumption daily, due to the effects that it has on satiety.

This is because the fiber from chicory, inulin, a prebiotic, acts in regulating the hormone ghrelin, which is associated with the sensation of hunger.

2. ASSISTS IN THE RECOVERY OF MUSCLES AND JOINTS

For those who suffer from pain in the muscles and joints, or has the habit of doing physical exercise with frequency, the chicory can also be a good help. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, ingestion of chicory can promote better muscle recovery after intense physical exercise or in cases of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

In a study conducted in Texas, chicory improved the osteoarthritis patients (with more than 50 years, treated with 600 to 1800 mg of the root per day). About 90% of the patients presented after one month of treatment at least 20% improvement in pain, stiffness and overall health.

3. ENHANCES THE FUNCTIONING OF THE GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM

The excellent effect that generates in the digestive system is, without doubt, the main property of this plant.

Chicory is one of the plants most rich in inulin, a powerful prebiotic, and soluble fiber.

The inulin present in the chicory, is responsible for its effect on digestive, being that this is the promoter of the following effects in the body:

  • Stimulates the growth of several strains like the lactobacillus and, therefore, regulation of intestinal flora;
  • It stimulates the bowel movements of the intestinal wall, improving its motility;
  • Helps in the formation of cake fecal;
  • Neutralizes the action of acids present in the body, that is, acts by reducing the acidity of the body;
  • Stimulates the secretion of the fluids of gastric.

Thanks to these effects, the inulin present in the chicory is able to prevent and even improve the reflux, the indigestion, constipation and even gastrointestinal problems more serious, such as cancer of the stomach or the colon-rectal.

4. PROTECTS THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

The inulin present in the chicory not only has benefits to the digestive, but also helps to reduce the cholesterol LDL stored in the cup. The LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad cholesterol”, is responsible for diseases such as atherosclerosis and by increasing the likelihood of myocardial infarction or stroke.

In addition, research has indicated that the presence of compounds antioxidants in chicory also reduces considerably the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

5. ASSISTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

The antioxidants present in the chicory, together with its antibacterial action, are responsible for the elimination of free radicals in the bloodstream which, in turn, decreases the risk of creating diseases such as cancer, for example.

In addition, it is considered that the extracts of chicory root have anti-microbial properties and antifúngicas, due to its ability to fight harmful bacteria.

6. DECREASES ANXIETY AND STRESS

In individuals that suffer from complications such as anxiety, stress , and difficulties in sleeping, ingestion of chicory can be a good help, due to their sedative effect.

Effectively, anxiety and stress are risk factors for other health problems such as heart disease, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, premature ageing and decline of cognitive skills, so it is essential to find a way around them.

7. PROMOTES THE HEALTH OF THE KIDNEYS AND LIVER

The chicory has a diuretic effect on the body, increasing the volume of urine. This effect may assist the body in the process of elimination of toxins that get stored in the kidneys and in the liver.

In addition, the chicory also has an effect hepatoprotetor, it stimulates the functioning of the liver and gallbladder, and stimulate the secretion of bile and prevent the formation of gallstones in both of these organs.

With regard to the effects of chicory on renal health, this serves in preventing the formation of kidney stones, helps in the treatment of infections, kidney stones and contains diuretic properties that increase the production of urine thus stimulating the work on kidney.

8. FIGHTS AGING

All plants contain compounds called phenols, being that most of these antioxidant properties. The antioxidants neutralize the action of free radicals or eliminate us. Radicals are compounds derived from oxidative processes that occur because of external sources such as pollution, radiation, stress, smoke, alcohol and food rich in refined sugars, fats and salt.

The chicory is rich in polyphenols which make it a good food antioxidant, essential to remove toxins from the body, keeping it clean and free of harmful substances.

Due to its antioxidant properties, the chicory improves the health of hair and nails, as well as also prevents premature aging of the skin.

PRECAUTIONS WITH CHICORY

Even knowing so many benefits of chicory, it is still necessary to have some care with this vegetable. For example, some argue that the chicory is not recommended to pregnant womensince it can stimulate menstruation and cause a miscarriage.

As there is no evidence in respect of the transfer that may occur between the infant and the infant, the ingestion of chicory also is not advised for women who are breast-feeding.

Another condition that requires care is the allergy to daisies, tasneiras and calêndulas. Those who suffer with this problem may have allergic reactions when eating the vegetable.

Individuals that have the calculations of bile in the gallbladder are also advised not to exagerarem in the intake chicory, taking into account that this can aggravate the problem.

However, most of the research argues that if the amount ingested is not exaggerated, there are rare situations in which the chicory is contra-indicated.

4 RECIPES WITH CHICORY

1. SALAD SAUTÉED CHICORY

– Ingredients –

  • 2 cháv. tea chicory chopped
  • 1 cháv. of red cabbage chopped
  • ½ Chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil for greasing
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Aromatic herbs and spices to taste

– Mode of preparation –

  1. Grease a frying pan.
  2. Place the garlic clove and the onion to brown.
  3. Add the chicory and cabbage and let it cook.
  4. Add the salt and the remaining spices.

2. OMELETTE WITH CHICORY

– Ingredients –

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ Cháv. tea chicory chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for greasing

– Mode of preparation –

  1. Place the eggs in a container.
  2. Add the ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a frying pan, greased, put this mixture and spread all over the pan.
  4. Let the omelet is golden brown, turn and let brown on the other side.
  5. Fill to taste.

3. JUICE OF CHICORY

– Ingredients –

  • 1 sheet of roasted chicory
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 medium slice of apple with peel
  • Grated ginger
  • 200 ml of water

– Mode of preparation –

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and let it crash as well.
  2. Take it without strain.

4. COLD SOUP OF CHICORY

– Ingredients –

  • 1 glass of water
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 1 bunch of chicory
  • 1 hand of green onions
  • Salt and seasonings to taste

– Mode of preparation –

  1. Wash the chicory and spring onion.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender and grind everything.
  3. If you prefer, you can substitute the milk for yogurt in the same amount.
  4. Taste the soup with a few slices of toasted bread.