Chickpeas are the most sought after legume in the world. In fact, they are used in various cuisines including in the Middle East, India, Israel, Spain, and North Africa. This ancient bean has its origins in the Middle East where it was cultivated as early 7,500 years ago. Today, chickpeas have become an essential ingredient in many household kitchens. Also called garbanzo beans and Ceci, chickpeas are small in size. They are usually available in dry form and must be soaked and cooked before consumption. In modern times, chickpeas can be consumed from a can, ground up into a flour, stewed or even pureed.
When cooked, chickpeas have a grainy texture and nutty taste, making them an excellent accompaniment with many other foods. Apart from being very tasty, chickpeas are rich in fibre, minerals, and vitamins. They offer many health benefits like reducing risk factors to diseases, weight management, and improving digestion. Chickpeas are also very high in plant-based protein. This makes them one of the best meat replacement ingredients. Chickpeas are an essential ingredient in vegan and vegetarian diets.
Table of Content
- Nutritional Value of Chickpeas
- Benefits of Consuming Chickpeas
- Best Ways to Incorporate Chickpeas
- Chickpeas and Weight Loss
Nutritional Value of Chickpeas
Chickpeas have an extraordinary nutrition profile. In just a single 28 gram serving, there are only 46 calories and only 270 calories in one cup of boiled chickpeas. Nearly 67% of its weight comprises carbs, while the rest of the remaining chickpea consists of protein and fat. Did you know that one cup of chickpeas provides up to 40% of your required amount of daily fibre, as well as 70% of folate and 22% of iron? Chickpeas have a low glycemic index. It means that your body digests this legume slowly, which helps you feel full for long and prevents spikes in blood glucose levels.
Listed below, is the nutritional profile of a 28 gram serving of chickpeas:
- Calories: 101
- Carbohydrates: 17 grams
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Fiber: 7.9 grams
- Protein: 4.8 grams
Benefits of Consuming Chickpeas
There are several health benefits of consuming chickpeas. These are:
1) Reduces blood glucose levels
The American Diabetes Association recommends chickpeas as a source of fibre for people with diabetes. In a 2014 study, it was found that eating 30g of fibre every day could reduce inflammation in individuals living with type 1 diabetes. Ideally, it is recommended that adults consume up to 28.0 grams of fibre a day.
Another 2018 study found that a high fibre diet helped to lower blood sugar levels and minimized the risk of type 2 diabetes. This makes chickpeas an ideal ingredient in a diabetes meal plan.
2) Promotes Bone Health
Chickpeas contain calcium, iron, and phosphorus; all necessary minerals that promote healthy and strong bone structure. Incorporating chickpeas into your daily diet is an excellent way of preventing osteoporosis.
3) Manages Blood Pressure
Consuming chickpeas on a regular basis can help increase your potassium levels. Potassium helps reduce high blood pressure. In fact, it is recommended that adults should consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day. Chickpeas are naturally high in this mineral and can be easily consumed to meet your daily potassium requirements. A cup of chickpeas (164g), has 474 mg of potassium.
If you’re planning to use canned chickpeas, then pay attention to the sodium level in the ingredient listing. It is always best to cook with dry chickpeas so that you can control and limit the amount of sodium you consume. It is recommended that you keep your sodium level below 2,300 each day to prevent cardiovascular disease.
4) Promotes heart health
Chickpeas are high in B vitamins, fibre, selenium, iron, and magnesium; ingredients that support heart health. Fibre decreases the risk of developing heart disease because it lowers blood cholesterol levels. In fact, chickpeas have no cholesterol!
5) Helps combat cancer
Cancer is caused by free radicals. These are toxic substances that accumulate in the body due to poor metabolism. As toxin levels rise, cell damage occurs, causing a variety of health issues, including cancer. Chickpeas contain antioxidants such as beta carotene and selenium. These are vital in removing free radicals. In a single cup of chickpeas, there are 6.1mcg of selenium. The recommended daily requirement of selenium for adults is 55 mcg. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that is capable of protecting the body from developing cancer. When selenium is coupled with fibre, it can help reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
6) Reduces cholesterol
In a 2006 study, it was found that participants who consumed chickpeas on a regular basis had low LDL levels (low-density lipoprotein) compared to those who only ate a wheat-based diet. The researchers pointed out that the high fibre content in chickpeas was responsible for reducing bad cholesterol levels.
7) Improves mental health
In a single cup of chickpeas, there is 69.7mg of choline. This is an essential mineral for the nervous system and brain function. Choline plays a vital role in learning, memory, mood regulation, metabolism, and muscle control. The daily recommended intake of choline for adults is 400 to 550mg of choline. This varies according to gender and whether you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. In addition, the selenium content in chickpeas supports thinking and memory. In fact, a study examining cognitive decline in the elderly found a decreased level of selenium.
8) Promotes regularity and digestion
Chickpeas are an excellent source of fibre. Consuming these on a daily basis helps keep you regular and promote good gut health.
9) Aids weight management
If you’re trying to lose weight or stay within a healthy weight range, then chickpeas are your ally. The dietary fibre in chickpeas acts as bulking agents. This means you will feel full for a longer period of time. In addition, their high protein content also contributes to reducing your appetite and therefore limiting your caloric intake.
10) Prevents iron deficiency
Iron is an essential mineral in the body. It helps red blood cells carry and deliver oxygen to the entire body. When there is an iron deficiency present in the body, it can cause tiredness and weakness. Some life-threatening health conditions may arise due to low iron levels. Chickpeas are an excellent source of iron. When consumed with vitamin C, your body is able to absorb this mineral better.
Best Ways to Incorporate Chickpeas
You can easily include chickpeas into your diet. Listed below are two popular recipes that use this popular ingredient.
Hummus- Middle Eastern Dip
- 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
- 60 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 60 ml of tahini
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- 30 ml of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- salt to taste
- 45 ml of water
- paprika for garnishing
- In a mixer or food processor, blend together chickpeas, cumin powder, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Ensure the mixture is smooth and creamy in texture.
- Slowly and gradually add olive oil. Keep mixing.
- Depending on the thickness, add as much water as you like and continue to mix. Do not exceed 45 ml of water.
- Once the ingredients are well-blended, remove into a deep and wide bowl. Garnish the hummus with some paprika and or cumin and olive oil.
- 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
- 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon of lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup of Chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup of cubed cucumber
- 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
- ½ sliced onion
- ¼ cup of chopped coriander leaves
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Mix all vegetables and the chickpeas together in a deep bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix together lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Pour over the cut vegetables and garnish with coriander.
Chickpeas and Weight Loss
Chickpeas are a known ingredient in combating excess weight. They are very low in calories compared to the number of nutrients they provide. If you eat low calorie, high fiber foods like chickpeas on a daily basis, you are highly likely to experience weight loss, especially when combined with some exercise. The high fiber and protein content in chickpeas promote weight loss because both the ingredients increase satiety levels.
In a weight-loss study, it was found that those people who consumed chickpeas regularly were 53% more likely to be fit with a lower body mass index. Another meta-analyses study found that consuming chickpeas every day increased weight loss by 25%.
Chickpeas are an ancient legume that is gaining much importance in modern society. Although they were first cultivated in the Middle East, chickpeas are consumed worldwide. This small bean has a delicious nutty and buttery flavor, making it an excellent ingredient in many cuisines. Chickpeas also play a vital role in promoting health and preventing diseases. Make chickpeas a part of your daily diet and stay fit for life.