Chicory, also known as succory or coffeeweed, has long been revered for its many health benefits including being a liver tonic, relieving upset stomachs, calming the nerves, regulating heartbeat, controlling blood sugar levels and helping to alleviate osteoarthritis and gout. Crushed chicory leaves have also been used by some ancient civilizations as a poultice to treat skin inflammations and promote wound healing.
Now, according to the latest research, chicory can add one more health benefit to the list… and if you are worried about your memory and want to boost your brain function, this alert is just for you.
Zapping brain toxins
Chicory, sometimes known as endive, belongs to the Asteraceae family along with sunflowers and dandelions. It contains small amounts of the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals, the most prominent being vitamins C and A, selenium, manganese, fibre, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as oligosaccharide-enriched inulin — a type of plant-based carbohydrate often used in high-fibre and gluten-free products. Inulin is also classified as a prebiotic.
A recent study, published in The FASEB Journal, found that a component in chicory could potentially help reduce memory loss — one of the earliest signs of dementia.
According to the researchers, chicoric acid may help prevent the formation of toxic clumps, known as amyloid plaques, believed to be the signature hallmark of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Amyloid plaques form when proteins fold abnormally in the brain, causing a toxic effect that leads to memory loss. The researchers believe chicoric acid works by blocking a major brain pathway known to cause amyloid plaques.
To test the effects of chicoric acid on memory, Chinese researchers used three groups of mice. One group of mice were given lipopolysaccharide (LPS), while the second group were given LPS and chicoric acid. The first two groups of mice were tested against a control group that were given nothing.
Lipopolysaccharide is an inflammation-causing endotoxin that has been shown to cause cognitive impairment by increasing beta-amyloid production.
The learning and memory abilities of all mice were assessed using two different behavioural tests. The researchers found that the mice treated with chicoric acid and LPS completed the tests in less time compared to the other groups, suggesting chicoric acid decreases the levels of LPS-induced memory problems.
The researchers concluded that chicoric acid may help reduce neuro-inflammation and prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins caused by LPS.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Thoru Pederson, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, said: “These are provocative findings, but with the caveat that the LPS regime is not likely a model of long-term memory impairment.
But the possibility remains that chicoric acid could prove to be a beneficial human nutraceutical for overall memory acuity.”
Clearly further research is still needed to confirm whether Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can benefit from supplementing with chicoric acid. But until then, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start incorporating fresh chicory into your diet by adding it to salads or using it in fresh vegetable juices.
Apart from all its other known health benefits, chicory might just give you a bit of a memory boost.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Chicoric acid supplementation prevents systemic inflammation-induced memory impairment and amyloidogenesis via inhibition of NF-?B, Published online before print December 21, 2016, doi: 10.1096/fj.201601071R