Science-based Health Benefits of Chickpeas

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Zemira Barnes (MS)

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Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein that helps manage diabetes and aid in weight loss. The proven benefits of chickpeas include the ability to improve digestion, boost heart health, and help maintain optimal blood pressure levels. Moreover, they also improve bone, skin, and hair health.

What are Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)?

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.) or garbanzo beans is a famous legume or pulse (edible seed) also known as Ceci bean, Bengal gram, or Egyptian pea, depending on where you’re eating them. These small, pale-brown beans have been cultivated for the better part of 7,000 years, making them the oldest and most popular legumes on the planet. They have a nutty taste and a grainy texture that blends well with every food and ingredient.

Types of chickpeas: There are roughly 90 identified species of chickpea. Although the most common variants are pale-brown, black, green, and red chickpeas.

A wooden spoon and a paper bag of raw chickpeas on a white background

Chickpea sprouts or steamed chickpeas can be added to any salad. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Chickpeas Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]60.21
Energy [kcal]164
Energy [kJ]686
Protein [g]8.86
Total lipid (fat) [g]2.59
Ash [g]0.92
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]27.42
Fiber, total dietary [g]7.6
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]4.8
Calcium, Ca [mg]49
Iron, Fe [mg]2.89
Magnesium, Mg [mg]48
Phosphorus, P [mg]168
Potassium, K [mg]291
Sodium, Na [mg]7
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.53
Copper, Cu [mg]0.35
Manganese, Mn [mg]1.03
Selenium, Se [µg]3.7
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]1.3
Thiamin [mg]0.12
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]0.53
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.29
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.14
Folate, total [µg]172
Folate, food [µg]172
Folate, DFE [µg]172
Choline, total [mg]42.8
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]1
Carotene, beta [µg]16
Vitamin A, IU [IU]27
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.35
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.27
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.22
18:0 [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.58
16:1 [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.58
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.16
18:2 [g]1.11
18:3 [g]0.04
Tryptophan [g]0.09
Threonine [g]0.33
Isoleucine [g]0.38
Leucine [g]0.63
Lysine [g]0.59
Methionine [g]0.12
Cystine [g]0.12
Phenylalanine [g]0.48
Tyrosine [g]0.22
Valine [g]0.37
Arginine [g]0.84
Histidine [g]0.24
Alanine [g]0.38
Aspartic acid [g]1.04
Glutamic acid [g]1.55
Glycine [g]0.37
Proline [g]0.37
Serine [g]0.45
Sources include : USDA
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a powerhouse of nutrients, packed with plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates. According to the USDA, they are a rich source of antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. The nutty seeds also have a number of essential vitamins like thiamin, riboflavinniacin, vitamin C, A, B6, B12, and vitamin K.

Chickpeas Benefits

Let’s look at some of the health benefits of chickpeas:

Manages Diabetes

Chickpeas have a high amount of soluble fiber and low glycemic index which helps regulate blood sugar levels by optimizing digestion. Foods with a low glycemic index reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease by producing smaller changes in blood sugar and insulin levels once the food is eaten. Researchers conducted an experiment to compare the effects of chickpea-based and wheat-based foods on insulin sensitivity. The results of the experiment, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that chickpea-based foods were better for blood glucose levels.

Aids in Weight Loss

Garbanzo beans with their high density of nutrients, combined with the dietary fiber, are perfect for people trying to lose weight. The fiber helps the body feel full for longer, by interacting with ghrelin, the hunger hormone, according to a study in the Bastyr University Research Institute. The blend of nutrients and minerals keeps the body energized and active, eliminating fatigue, and snacking. This makes chickpeas great for reducing overall caloric intake, because you simply don’t feel hungry, despite the 270 calories per cup of chickpeas.

Improves Digestion

The high levels of dietary fiber found in chickpeas help bulk up your stool, according to a study published in the Nutrients journal. A diet containing adequate dietary fiber keeps your bowel movements regular while eliminating inflammation, cramping, bloating, and constipation. An addition of chickpeas in your diet improves the absorption of nutrient digestion and ensure that you’re making the most of the nutritional value of your food.

Boosts Heart Health

Our cardiovascular health gets a boost in two different ways from garbanzo beans. Firstly, the high levels of soluble fiber help balance cholesterol levels preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Secondly, they reduce the amounts of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. Also, omega-3 fatty acids help protect the heart from inflammation. A study cited in Elsevier’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that chickpeas also help improve serum lipid levels.

Good Source of Protein

Chickpeas are an important source of the proteins needed for growth and development, as well as proper healing and repair throughout the body. They are an ideal option for vegetarians who want to ensure they have the proper nutrient intake. However, one should not rely on chickpeas as a sole source of proteins. Balanced protein intake is advised.

Strengthens Bones

Garbanzo beans being rich in essential vitamins and minerals are exceptionally good for bone health. Many of those minerals are essential in improving bone mineral density and preventing age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Chickpea consumption can also have anti-cancer effects due to the fatty acid butyrate. Butyrate is credited with reducing colorectal cancers.

Maintains Blood Pressure

One of the key ways to maintain low blood pressure is to go for a low-sodium (low-salt) diet. Garbanzo beans being naturally low in sodium help in lowering high blood pressure. However, higher-quality large scale trials are required to support this finding.

Lowers Inflammation

Choline in chickpeas is a macronutrient that plays a vital role in the body’s ability to fight chronic inflammation. It also regulates your sleep cycle, increases the range of movement in the muscles, as well as boosts learning and memory.

Other Uses and Benefits

  • For dandruff, make a paste with chickpea flour and some water. Massage this on your scalp and leave it for half an hour before washing off.
  • Chickpea flour is also good for oily, spotty skin. Simply combine some flour with milk and rose water to make a face mask.
  • The antioxidant compounds found in chickpeas include polyphenols, phytonutrients, beta-carotene, and key vitamins, according to Food Chemistry.
  • Adding folate-rich chickpeas in the diet during pregnancy is a delicious way to ensure the baby’s healthy delivery.
  • Owing to their high protein and iron content, chickpeas can act as a wonderful natural supplement for those experiencing hair loss.
  • The presence of manganese in chickpeas enhances skin health and keeps the formation of wrinkles and fine lines at bay.
  • Consuming garbanzo beans can be a safe and natural way to counter menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms like night sweats, mood swings, and hot flashes.

How to Cook Chickpeas?

Chickpeas are easily available easily throughout the year in dried or canned form. The canned version contains salt and preservatives but offers convenience. Here’s how you cook dried chickpeas:

  • Sort, Wash, and Soak: Chickpeas should be sorted through before rinsing to ensure the removal of stones or debris. Wash and soak chickpeas in water for 3 hours to overnight. Soaking the legumes not only brings down cooking time but also removes some of the harmful compounds that can cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract resulting in uncomfortable symptoms like bloating or flatulence.
  • Cooking: The best way to cook soaked chickpeas is to simmer them for a couple of hours until tender.

Quick Serving Tips

Some quick ways of adding garbanzo beans to your diet include:

  • Chickpea is used as the main ingredient in hummus. It is traditionally made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, mixed with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices.
  • Chickpea sprouts or steamed chickpeas can be added to any salad. Moreover, they can be used to prepare soups, dips, and dishes.
  • Chickpeas are ground to make chickpea flour, also known as Bengal gram flour. Furthermore, it can be used as a substitute for wheat flour as a vegan and gluten-free flour, or in combination with others to enhance taste and nutrition.
  • Flatbread can be made with equal quantities of chickpea and barley flour. This is a beneficial recipe for diabetics.

Side Effects

While the majority of chickpea benefits are wonderful, there can be certain side effects:

  • Kidney ailments: They possess moderate amounts of purines that can be broken down by the body into uric acid and cause various health conditions including kidney stones, gallstones, and gout. Avoid intake if you suffer from any of these conditions as chickpeas can serve as a trigger for these ailments.
  • Digestive problems: The high fiber and starch content of the beans could cause digestive discomfort in some. The best solution, in this case, is to gradually start to include it in your diet.
  • Paralysis: A study in the Handbook of Medicinal Herbs states that inadequately cooked chickpeas can cause paralysis such as lathyrism.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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