Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein which can prevent diabetes and aid in weight loss. The amazing benefits of chickpeas include the ability to improve digestion, prevent heart disease, stabilize blood pressure levels, and lower the risk of genetic diseases and cancer. They also boost bone, skin, and hair health.
What are Chickpeas?
Chickpea is a famous legume also known as garbanzo bean, ceci bean, Bengal gram or Egyptian pea, depending on where you’re eating them. They are a rich source of various nutrients including protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
These small, pale-brown beans have been in active cultivation for the better part of 7,000 years, making them the oldest and most popular legumes on the planet. They are crucial parts of cuisine in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, where hummus can be found on almost any menu. More specifically, the main ingredient in hummus is chickpea.
Today, chickpeas have become a popular component of culinary preparation all over the world and are used in soups, salads, dips, and dishes. Chickpeas are ground to make chickpea flour, also known as Bengal gram flour. 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.
Types of chickpeas: There are roughly 90 identified species of chickpea. Although the most common variants are pale-brown, black, green, and red chickpeas.
Chickpeas Nutrition Facts
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a powerhouse food packed with plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates. They are a rich source of antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, folate and phosphorous. The nutty seeds also have a number of essential vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Before you start licking your lips for some pita and hummus, let’s dig into the health benefits of chickpeas.
Arguably the most significant aspect of chickpeas is the high protein content, making it an ideal option for vegetarians who want to ensure they have a proper nutrient intake. However, chickpeas are not “complete” proteins, meaning that they should not be relied on as a sole source of proteins. That being said, chickpeas are an important source of the proteins needed for growth and development, as well as proper healing and repair throughout the body.
There are a number of antioxidant compounds that can be found in chickpeas, including polyphenols, phytonutrients, beta-carotene and key vitamins, which can reduce oxidative stress in the body and prevent chronic disease. Antioxidants seek out free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism, which can cause healthy cells to mutate. These antioxidants can help protect the body from cancer, coronary heart disease, macular degeneration, and even cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Digestion is the starting point for health in the human body, so ensuring that your gastrointestinal system is working properly is key. The high levels of dietary fiber found in chickpeas can help to bulk up your stool content and keep your bowel movements regular, while also eliminating inflammation, cramping, bloating and constipation. This can also improve nutrient digestion and ensure that you’re getting all of the nutritional value of your food.
Blood sugar management is important for everyone, not only those who are suffering from diabetes, and chickpeas has shown a strong ability to regulate blood sugar levels through the optimization of digestion. This is believed to come directly from the soluble fiber levels found in chickpeas, in addition to a solid and balanced nutrient profile. By ensuring that our body maintains normal levels of insulin and blood sugar, chickpeas can prevent the development of diabetes and help people manage the condition.
The high density of nutrients, combined with the dietary fiber content of chickpeas, makes the perfect for people trying to lose weight. The fiber helps the body feel satiated and full for longer, by interacting with ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and partially inhibiting its release. The blend of nutrients and minerals also keeps the body energized and active, preventing fatigue and between-meal snacking. This makes chickpeas great for reducing caloric intake overall, because you simply don’t feel hungry, despite the 270 calories per cup of chickpeas.
The concentrated minerals found in garbanzo beans, including iron, phosphorous, magnesium, copper and zinc mean that these beans are exceptionally good for bone health. Many of those minerals are essential when trying to improve bone mineral density and prevent age-related conditions like osteoporosis.
Reduced Genetic Defects
Folate is an important B vitamin for many different reasons, but it is most often associated with the potential benefits it can have for women. Low folate levels are closely associated with neural tube defects and other complications with the birth of children, so adding folate-rich chickpeas to your diet, particularly during pregnancy, is a delicious way to ensure your baby’s healthy delivery.
Our cardiovascular health gets a boost in two different ways from garbanzo beans; first of all, the high levels of soluble fiber help to scrap cholesterol and rebalance those levels in our heart, thus preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Furthermore, the only fats that are found in garbanzo beans are omega-3 fatty acids, which are the beneficial polyunsaturated fats that our bodies require. This further protects the heart and helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
How to Cook Chickpeas
Chickpeas are 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:
- Washing and soaking: Wash and soak chickpeas in water for 8 to 10 hours. Soaking the legumes not only brings down cooking time but also removes some of the harmful compounds and oligosaccharides that can cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Cooking: The best way to cook soaked chickpeas is to simmer them for a couple of hours until tender.
Some quick ways of adding chickpeas to your diet to get certain health benefits:
- Chickpea sprouts or steamed chickpeas can be added to any salad
- Flatbread can be made with equal quantities of chickpea and barley flour. This is a beneficial recipe for diabetics.
Chickpeas Side Effects
While the majority of chickpea benefits are wonderful, there can be certain side effects:
- They possess purines, which can be broken down by the body into uric acid and cause various health conditions including kidney stones, gallstones, and gout. So avoid intake if you suffer from any of these conditions.
- 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 introduce more into your diet to ease your digestion.