Its leaves are white, because it only grows in the dark. But for healthy vitamins and minerals, chicory is unsurpassed. It deserves a place in every cuisine, especially during winter.
Many diet plans include chicory – and for some very good reasons: the little white leaf heads boast the lowest calories and fat contents of almost any vegetable – barely 14 calories per 100 grams. Yet they're extremely rich in healthy nutrients, such as folic acid, vitamins A, B and C, potassium, phosphor, calcium and magnesium. But nutrition experts have found even more cause to hold the chicory in such high esteem, including the abundance of bitter agents, a type of phytochemicals that stimulate bile flow and the production of gastric juices. This process in turn removes cholesterol from the blood, in particular the harmful LDL, which may be reduced by up to ten percent. Chicory also has a very high inulin content – a sweetener and storage carbohydrate known to promote a healthy intestinal flora and bolster the immune system. A study by the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena has shown that inulin can even protect against intestinal cancer. In foods, chicory is quite versatile, whether used in salads or steamed, alone or in combination with other vegetables.