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The health benefits of chicoric acid make it a potential ingredient in functional foods

Researchers from Jiangsu University in China and the University of Massachusetts summarized the findings of studies on chicoric acid and the mechanisms underlying its health benefits.

Their review appeared in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

  • Hydroxycinnamic acids have been used as medicines and nutraceuticals due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune-stimulating properties.
  • Chicoric acid, one of the most well-known hydroxycinnamic acid, possesses all these properties and has also been reported to have anti-obesity and neuroprotective activities.
  • Chicoric acid is present in the roots of many plants, especially those that grow in the Mediterranean region. These plants have been used as alternative medicines or as food supplements for many years.
  • Because high amounts of chicoric acid can be found in chicory (Cichorium intybus), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and basil (Ocimum basilicum), it is often used as a marker in quality checks for these herbal products.
  • The roots of chicory and purple coneflower are usually baked, ground and used as a substitute for coffee in Europe.
  • In Turkey, chicory is made into tea and is considered a traditional remedy for diabetes, epilepsy, hemorrhoids, inflammation and digestive disorders.
  • Plant roots containing chicoric acid are also used in Asian medicine to treat infectious diseases, inflammatory diseases, eye diseases and nerve injuries.
  • Meanwhile, commercial products made from purple coneflower are widely used in North America to prevent the common cold and flu.
  • Many beneficial effects of chicoric acid have been reported by cell culture and animal studies.

The researchers believe that mechanistic studies involving humans are needed to further determine the beneficial properties of chicoric acid and evaluate its potential as a functional food ingredient.

Journal Reference:

Peng Y, Sun Q, Park Y. THE BIOACTIVE EFFECTS OF CHICORIC ACID AS A FUNCTIONAL FOOD INGREDIENT. Journal of Medicinal Food. 10 July 2019;22(7):645–652. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2018.0211

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