So I was in Nature’s Emporium yesterday, and was asked the typical health question – “Is Coffee bad for me?” Now I was in the coffee aisle at the time explaining to a friend about coffee substitutes, so the question was warranted.
I myself have be a self-proclaimed coffee addict since I was 10 years old. My mother and her european heritage is the defining reason why I started, and my long standing academic career is the reason I continued the habit. When you write 13 exams in one week, you learn to love coffee! Coffee gets a bad rap unfortunately, being thought primarily as an elixar of energy and a study aid but nothing more. Coffee is a botanical and has numerous health properties, containing caffeine, monoamine inhibitors (antidepressant) and anti-oxidants (protects against cellular damage). It has been shown to be protective against Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sinusitis, liver disease, depression and most cancers (such as colon, prostate and breast). Because of it’s acidity, coffee can cause digestive issues (if a person is sensitive to coffee) or acidic regurgitation (if the person already has “heart burn”). Others can have a caffeine sensitivity, which can cause headaches, heart palpitations, shaking and “jitters”.
One coffee substitute for those who have a sensitivity to coffee is chicory. Chicory is an herb whose roots is roasted and ground – looking and tasting similar to coffee. It has a similar bitter profile, but has an under tone earthy flavour (and no bitter after taste). Chicory is also highly digestible and has fiber in it (so in contrast to coffee, it actual helps with digestion). Chicory also is toxic to intestinal parasites, helps with constipation (because it contains inulin), protective against gall stones, helpful for weight loss, and has an affinity for liver disease.
So which is better? Neither herb is better than the other, they both have fantastic health properties (some similar, some different). For myself, I like to have the best of both worlds. I’ve incorporated chicory into my daily routine (because I enjoy the taste), but it has not substituted my coffee. I’ll drink both so I get both health properties – perhaps blend the two together for a true “chicory coffee”. It’s all about balance and moderation!