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What is the Connection Between Chicory and Inulin?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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The connection between chicory and inulin is in terms of their health benefits, which include improving digestion and helping good bacteria flourish in the intestinal system. The root is the most often used part of chicory, as a large percentage of inulin is available in this part of the chicory plant. Inulin, promoted as a beneficial prebiotic that can help ease digestion, is used by many food manufacturers as both a prebiotic and a sweetener, as inulin provides a natural sweetness. Both chicory and inulin are used widely in the health food industry, because inulin has shown promise as a beneficial fiber that may help relieve constipation.

Chicory root is the root of the perennial plant called chicory. It is baked and ground into a powder and has been cultivated for use in Europe as a coffee substitute. Many health food enthusiasts around the world use chicory as a coffee substitute as it closely resembles it in taste, while at the same time providing numerous health benefits. The most popularized and emphasized health benefit of chicory is its high content of inulin, a polysaccharide and fibrous carbohydrate. Inulin has been shown in nutritional research to be a naturally occurring prebiotic that acts as a fertilizer for beneficial intestinal bacteria.

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Many manufacturers advertise the health benefits of chicory and inulin, as the inulin content in chicory may improve digestion due to its prebiotic components. Also, because chicory and inulin are associated with fiber, inulin in chicory is often used in many natural fiber supplements. Some coffee substitutes will advertise this claim, as do supplement manufacturers who bottle chicory in capsule and liquid forms. Many yogurts on the market add inulin, extracted from chicory, into their yogurt to increase the beneficial bacteria.

Chicory and inulin both contain natural components that promote sweet taste, so there are many companies in the food industry that use these components to sweeten beverages or other food products. As inulin is a fiber, it does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels like regular table sugar, making it safe for diabetics. Both chicory and inulin can be used safely by most people, yet one should speak directly to a doctor or nutritionist before taking chicory and inulin.

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