What do endive, radicchio, and chicory coffee all have in common? Well, aside from being delicious, they’re all part of the chicory plant.
And if you’re pregnant, you may find yourself questioning everything, including keeping chicory products on your personal menu. So is chicory safe now that you’re pregnant?
This pretty, perennial plant is also known as bluedaisy, coffeeweed, and wild endive. Chicory usually has bright blue flowers but sometimes pink or white flowers instead.
While chicory is native to Europe, you can now find it in North America, China, and Australia.
The leaves, buds, and roots have been used for centuries in cooking and medicine. Chicory is also grown as forage for livestock.
In Italy, avid fans of radicchio (a variety of chicory with variegated red or red and green leaves) love grilling it to mellow the bitter, spicy taste. Belgians prefer a white-leaf variety of endive with a smoother taste.
As of 2002, the United States imported more than 2 million kilograms (kg) of leaves and shoots and nearly 2 million kg of roasted chicory roots for coffee a year, per
And speaking of those roots: The dried roots add a rich, chocolatey taste to coffee and a coffee-tinged flavor to stout, a dark type of beer.
Inulin, a polysaccharide, makes up
- feed the good bacteria in your gut
- fight the bad bacteria
- reduce inflammation
- improve mineral absorption
Chicory root has been touted as a natural laxative, digestive aid, diuretic, and mild sedative — though its effectiveness in these areas is up for debate.
Chicory, as an extract, is generally regarded as safe outside of pregnancy by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the
However, there’s currently little research on exactly how chicory affects pregnancy. That’s because herbal remedies aren’t evaluated based on the same standards as pharmaceuticals, according to
Given that we don’t know, it’s best to speak with your OB-GYN before consuming chicory root in order to weigh the risks, benefits, and alternatives.
There’s no recommended “safe” amount of chicory during pregnancy.
Most research on chicory focuses on the effects of inulin — which is derived from chicory root fiber — rather than on the chicory root fiber itself. Therefore, there’s no recommended dosage for chicory root fiber.
The following describes a “moderate” amount you can discuss with your OB-GYN:
- If you’re looking to enrich your coffee, stick with 2 tablespoons of ground chicory root for every 1 cup of water. And keep in mind that during pregnancy, it’s best to limit your caffeine intake to about 200 milligrams each day. That’s about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of coffee.
- Typical doses in traditional use are
3 to 5 gramsper day. You can slowly increase your dosage up to 10 grams per day.
What could happen if you consume too much radicchio or drink too much chicory-enriched coffee?
While chicory has been used for centuries without any reported toxicity, we do know that concentrated sesquiterpene lactones — the component that makes chicory bitter — in large amounts have the potential to produce toxic effects, according to the
Here are some side effects that you could experience if you have too much:
- Uterine contractions. In theory, too much chicory could trigger uterine contractions and lead to bleeding during pregnancy.
- Digestive discomfort. A
2014 studyshowed that some people report stomach cramping, flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea if they have too much chicory.
- Allergy symptoms. A
2015 studyshowed that people allergic to birch pollen could have swelling, tingling, and pain in their throat and mouth.
Healthline can’t recommend that you consume chicory during pregnancy.
However, you can discuss the benefits of chicory outside of pregnancy with your OB-GYN and — if you’re having any of these issues while pregnant — ask their opinion on consuming it during pregnancy.
Blood sugar control
It seems that inulin promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria that help your body to break down carbohydrates into sugar.
Inulin may also increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, helping you absorb sugar from your blood.
The sesquiterpene lactones in chicory may have anti-inflammatory health benefits, according to the aforementioned
Increase calcium absorption
If you’re looking for a way to increase your calcium absorption, chicory may be worth a try. A
It’s important to get enough calcium during pregnancy, both for your health and for baby’s development.
There’s little research into how chicory affects pregnancy, but it’s probably safe in moderation — and may even have certain benefits.
If you have any questions or concerns, speak with an OB. They’re the best source of information when it comes to what you should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy.