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Healthy Coffee Substitute: Chicory

Updated on October 23, 2011

The Dilemma of Drinking Coffee

These days, drinking coffee is in style. Besides the obvious fact of energy-boost benefit, coffee lovers simply enjoy conversations while happily sipping their drinks. Talking to a friend would not be the same without that Gevalia cup of coffee in your hand! Or Starbucks' Skinny Caramel Macchiato...Just recently, one of my best friends has convinced me to try a homemade cup of coffee, loaded with condensed sweetened milk, and a swirl of whipped cream on top. Talk about an overload on sugar, added calories, and fat!

Now, with this passion for a simple drink come detriments, so often overlooked. First, the caffeine...addictive as can be. The "energetic" you become the "aggravated" you in just couple of hours, and unless you drink another cup of coffee, you'll likely to blow it somewhere. I have read so many testimonies of people trying to wean themselves from coffee, battling migraines, mood swings, etc. Second, what you dress your drink with could be as caloric as eating lunch! Notice, I didn't say "as nutritious as your lunch", because the calories in your coffee that could come from cream and sugar, plus all the artificial flavorings are EMPTY CALORIES. Third, from a health-conscious perspective, caffeine tends to raise blood pressure and adrenaline, which is not necessarily a good thing. Fourth, it has gotten kind of expensive to "drink out" (my version of "eat out" for those visits to coffee shops). I have read somewhere about a man who spent $46 for a cup of coffee. To be fair, his itemized expenses were as follows: $6 for a cup of coffee, $40 for an overdraft fee. How ironic! My fifth point is that there is not enough solid proof that coffee has significant health benefits, as the article on respectable health website, implies. The commentary "Say it’s so, Joe: The potential health benefits -- and drawbacks –- of coffee" is peppered with terms such as "may", "not clear", "no solid proof", "isn't proven to", "not really been shown to", etc. Well, I know how my body reacts to caffeine, and I have read enough testimonies of other people to make my own conclusion - coffee isn't the drink I want to include in my daily source of hydration.

Coffee Alternatives

So, what should a person who loves the taste of coffee do? Fortunately, there are alternatives...and they don't taste bad either! Worthy of mention is teeccino, a blend of natural ingredients such as almonds, carob, barley, dates and figs, etc. Not only it is closely resembling real coffee in taste, it is full of health benefits, and it is without caffeine. The only drawback I see is cost and availability - it can get a bit expensive since it is only available through ordering, not on your grocery store shelves.

I, however, will share my experience with another coffee alternative - chicory. Most people are familiar with this plant through coffee flavor, ironically. Introduced to me by my mother, who is always on lookout for healthy natural products, I was really impressed by chicory.

Let's talk taste...Admittedly, it is not completely resembling real coffee. However, it comes very close. As I would describe it, the drink has this "bitterness" of the coffee in it, but at the same time, it tastes mild and nutty. Chicory comes in a form of syrup concentrate or in dry crystals, like instant coffee. Now, if you have a European market close by, you are sure to find chicory there; or, try a nutrition store. Otherwise, just google "buy chicory", and you will have many places on the web to shop for it. A lot of time, chicory is mixed with other healthy ingredients like malted barley, figs, etc. which gives the drink a new dimension. Personally, I like plain chicory with a little of goat milk in it, sweetened with honey or turbinado sugar.

Finally, the health benefits of chicory...they are many. I will not repeat what others already have written on the internet, but will say this - chicory is VERY healthy drink and is beneficial for diabetics, pregnant, those who need their nerves calmed, those with digestive problems, those who want to lower their cholesterol levels naturally...the list goes on and on. In Europe, this drink is recommended for pregnant women as a substitute for coffee and to aid in new red-blood cell formation; and in Singapore, chicory has been proven to have anti-diabetic effect in some medical study.

My review of this wonderful drink is two thumbs up. I would recommend it to anyone seeking a healthy alternative to coffee!


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      mond5004 5 years ago

      Chicory is NOT recommended for pregnant women as it can cause spontaneous abortion. It does however appear to have many beneficial properties as both a plant (eaten like lettuce) and as a drink additive and alternative. That said, I personally love chicory root as a coffee alternative and coffee additive. I find the flavors very complimentary.

      Also, the assumption that caffeine causes headaches may be unfounded. What is most likely causing headaches is the dehydration and withdrawal. If you look at most migraine medications, they include caffeine because it helps dilate blood vessels.

      Great article though. Thanks!

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      Glen Swain 5 years ago

      Must give thumbs up for chicory . Caffiene is the problem in coffee . Health wise similar to nicotine .

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      Linda F 5 years ago

      Wow , I thank you for the idea of trying chickory on its own. I love it and it will help me stop coffee.I do need help .

    • Victress In All profile image

      Victress In All 6 years ago

      Thanks for reading my hub, RTalloni! You don't have to stop drinking coffee, just with all the options for drinks, you probably will not drink it as much ;)

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting to read about these alternatives. Chicory... I would like to give it a try some time. That wouldn't mean I would have to give up my coffee! :) Thanks for sharing.