Chana, also known as Bengal Gram or Chickpea, is a go-to protein source for vegetarians and vegans. It is a staple in Indian households. The high fibre, protein, vitamin, and mineral content of chana have numerous health benefits.
Some of the benefits include weight management and improved digestion. But is chana equally suitable for a person with diabetes?
Yes, chana is an excellent breakfast or snack option for those with diabetes. Furthermore, your blood glucose levels will remain consistent throughout the day by adding controlled portions of chana to a balanced diet.
Types of Chana
Chana is a legume and is related to beans and peas. They come in various colours, such as black, brown, green, and red. However, the most recognised colour of chana is beige.
They have a nutty taste and a buttery texture. Today, chana is prevalent in all parts of the world, especially in Turkey, North Africa, Spain and India.
There are three types of chana; desi or kala (black) chana, kabuli or safed (white) chana, and chana dal. All of them are entirely different from each other in shape, colour, and taste. You can prepare endless dishes from these three varieties of chana.
Desi chana is known as kala chana (black chickpea), Bengal gram, or chola boot. It is smaller, darker and has more of a rough coat. The green chana you see in the market is desi chana but before its drying process. Desi chana is more prefered because of its taste and smell.
Sprouted kala chana is a nutritious addition to a diabetic meal plan. Also, sprouting decreases the starch content by 10% and increases fibre content.
These are the twin reasons why sprouted chana is good for diabetes. You get 15-20g of protein, 45-60g of carbs, and 12-13g of dietary fibre from 100 grams of desi chana.
Kabuli chana, also known as safed chana, is relatively rounder and larger than the desi type. Their coats are smooth with a lighter colour, usually creamy white. This chana takes up water efficiently and is easy to cook after soaking.
Kabuli Chana has a lower fibre level than desi ones. As a result, they are also slightly higher in calories. It comprises 22% protein, 14% fat, and 64% carbs.
Chana dal is also known as split yellow gram or split desi-chickpea. First, it goes through a process of removal of the seed coat. After that, it gets split in half.
About 80% of the desi chana in India is hulled and split to make chana dal. Most people grind chana dal into chickpea flour or besan as a diabetes-friendly alternative to regular flour or maida.
Chana dal may look similar to Arhar dal but contains more vitamin B1, fibre, and folate.
Is Chana Good for Diabetes?
Some foods can help control your blood sugar levels, one of them being chana. Here is why chana is good for diabetes:
High in Protein
Chana is one of the best plant-based sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Moreover, protein is essential for your body, especially for diabetic patients.
One half-cup serving of chana has 6 grams of protein. A 1-cup (164 g) serving provides 14.5 grams of protein, equal to the protein content in lentils and black beans.
Studies show that when diabetic patients eat protein- and fibre-rich vegetables before carbohydrates, their post-meal blood sugar levels are better controlled. And research findings state that the bioavailability of chana protein in the human body is higher than other pulses.
Research suggests that swapping red meat for protein-packed legumes like chickpeas benefits gut health and lowers type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk. It also leads to a modest improvement in fasting glucose and fasting insulin.
Low Glycemic Index
Chana is a well-known food with a low glycemic index. As a result, it makes it suitable for diabetes. Chana, including canned ones, has a glycemic index value between 28-40.
Eating foods with a low glycemic index prevents large fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. Low glycemic index carbs in chana ensure a steadier and slow rise in blood sugar after a meal.
Studies also support that low-GI diets improve glycemic control. It also reduces body weight. In addition, it is particularly beneficial for overweight or obese people with prediabetes or diabetes.
Rich in Fibre
Chana is a powerhouse of dietary fibre. For people with diabetes looking to lose weight, the fibre keeps you satisfied longer and prevents overeating.
The body cannot absorb and break down fibre as quickly as other carbohydrates. So, fibre does not cause blood sugar levels to spike as rapidly. It helps to keep blood sugar levels in your target range.
The HealthifyMe Note
Chana is an excellent source of nutrition for diabetes patients as they are high in fibre and protein. This legume is also low on the glycemic index, which makes it an ideal snack choice for people with diabetes. In addition, soaked, sprouted, or roasted chana can help lower calorie intake in obese or overweight people with diabetes.
How to Eat Chana for Diabetes?
The best part about chana is that you can prepare it in various ways. So you do not have to eat the same dish every time.
- A healthier option is kala chana chat. You can chop onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and green chillies and mix them with a cup of boiled black chana.
- Boiled and sprouted chana are best for breakfast. A healthy mixture of boiled chana and other fresh vegetables will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day.
- Hummus is a flavorful, nutrient-dense dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas. A survey study shows that people who ate chickpeas and hummus have higher nutrient and fibre intakes than non-consumers.
Another study says the postprandial glucose responses were four times lower than white bread after consuming hummus. All these findings indicate that traditional hummus can be a part of a balanced diabetes diet.
Managing Diabetes like a Pro
When you have diabetes, you must be mindful of what you eat and how it will affect your blood sugar levels.
The HealthifyPRO continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system offers around-the-clock glucose readings. Unlike a single reading test, a CGM provides real-time alerts if your glucose levels are trending higher or lower.
Continuous feedback on your diet from a CGM can help you make more informed and healthier food choices.
At HealthifyMe, the certified coaches offer one-on-one consultations to help you manage your diet and exercise for diabetes control.
Chana is a nutritious source of plant-based protein and fibre. It is healthy low-glycemic food to always have on hand.
People with diabetes must have a well-balanced meal plan consisting of protein and fibre. They work together to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Chana also ensures a lower postprandial blood glucose level.
If you are trying to lose weight to improve insulin resistance, then kala chana is a good option. Feel free to enjoy boiled, roasted, or sprouted chana up to 2 small bowls per day! However, as with most things, moderation is key. Too much chana can lead to problems, such as gastric discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is white chana good for diabetes?
A. White chana is a nutritious legume suitable for a diabetes diet chart. Being low in the Glycemic Index, white chana would not cause harmful blood sugar spikes. Besides proteins, white chana is also a good source of dietary fibre. Therefore, people with diabetes, pre-diabetics, people trying to lose weight, and everyone else can consume white chana and benefit from it.
Q. Can a diabetic eat roasted chana?
A. Roasted chana is a healthy snack. Its high fibre and high protein content take longer to digest. As a result, you feel full for extended periods and avoid mindless snacking. It also keeps the blood sugar level at a stable range. Therefore, roasted chana is a perfect diabetic-friendly snack. However, do not add artificial flavourings, calorie-dense seasonings, or excess salt while roasting chana.
Q. Does chana reduce sugar?
A. Chana has a low glycemic index. Therefore, it is ideal for regulating blood sugar levels post-meal. In addition, its high fibre and protein content helps prevent blood sugar spikes. As a result, it makes chana an excellent choice for people with diabetes looking to manage their condition.
Q. Is boiled kala chana good for diabetics?
A. Yes, boiled kala chana is good for diabetes. One serving of black or kala chana provides nearly 13 grams of dietary fibre. High fibre intake contributes to better blood sugar management.
Q. Does Channa raise blood sugar?
A. Chana has a low glycemic index and is rich in fibre and protein. Therefore, it does not raise blood sugar levels. However, the benefits will only be present when you eat chana correctly and in the right amounts. Eating chana with a carb-heavy diet will not benefit your blood sugar management.
Q. What are the disadvantages of chana?
A. Eating chana in recommended amounts will not cause any side effects. However, excess consumption can enhance allergic reactions, gas, bloating, and discomfort. Like most legumes, presoak and cook chana to prevent toxicity.
The Supporting Sources
1. Imai S, Fukui M, Kajiyama S. Effect of eating vegetables before carbohydrates on glucose excursions in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2014;54(1):7-11. doi:10.3164/jcbn.13-67
2. Technological, processing and nutritional aspects of chickpea (Cicer arietinum). 2021
3. Viguiliouk E, Stewart SE, Jayalath VH, et al. Effect of Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2015;7(12):9804-9824. Published 2015 Dec 1. doi:10.3390/nu7125509
4. Mohammad Ishraq Zafar, Kerry E Mills, Juan Zheng, Anita Regmi, Sheng Qing Hu, Luoning Gou, Lu-Lu Chen, Low-glycemic index diets as an intervention for diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 110, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 891–902.
5. O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni III VL (2014) Chickpeas and Hummus are associated with Better Nutrient Intake, Diet Quality, and Levels of Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2010. J Nutr Food Sci 4:254.
6. Wallace TC, Murray R, Zelman KM. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):766. Published 2016 Nov 29. doi:10.3390/nu8120766
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