Chickpeas are one of the most sought after legumes in the world. They serve as ingredients in various cuisines, including the Middle East, India, Israel, Spain, and North Africa. This traditional bean has its origins in the Middle East. Its cultivation started as early as 7,500 years ago. Today, chickpeas have become an essential ingredient in many household kitchens.
Also called garbanzo beans and Ceci, they are small in size. They are usually available in dry form. And it is necessary to soak and cook them before consumption. The consumption of chickpeas can be from a can, ground up into 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 the risk factors of diseases, weight management, and improving digestion. Chickpeas are also very high in plant-based protein. The high-protein content in them makes them one of the best meat replacement ingredients. Thus, chickpeas are an essential part of vegan and vegetarian diets.
Nutritional Value of Chickpeas
Chickpeas have a unique nutrition profile. In just a single 28-gram serving, there are 102 calories and only 729 calories in one cup (200 grams) of boiled chickpeas. Nearly 67% of its weight comprises carbs, while 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, 70% of folate and 22% of iron? In addition, they have a low glycemic index. It means that your body digests this legume slowly, which helps you feel full for longer and prevents spikes in blood glucose levels.
Listed below is the nutritional profile of a 28-gram serving of boiled/cooked chickpeas:
- Calories: 102
- Carbohydrates: 17 grams
- Fat: 1.5 grams
- Fibre: 7.9 grams
- Protein: 4.8 grams
Chickpeas for Weight Loss
Chickpeas are a known ingredient in combating excess weight because they are low in calories compared to the number of nutrients they provide. Suppose you eat low-calorie, high-fibre foods like chickpeas daily.
In that case, you are highly likely to experience weight loss, especially when combined with some exercise. In addition, the high fibre and protein content in chickpeas promote weight loss. Both the ingredients slow down your digestion and increase satiety levels.
A weight-loss study shows that people who consumed chickpeas regularly were 53% more likely to fit within a lower body mass index. Compared to those who didn’t consume chickpeas, they also had a lower waist circumference. Another research study found that consuming chickpeas every day increased weight loss by 25%.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Besides weight loss, there are several other health benefits of consuming chickpeas. They are as follows:
Chickpeas Reduce Blood Glucose Levels
Chickpeas have a low glycemic index. Low GI means that chickpeas take time to be absorbed and digested by your body. This quality help regulate blood sugar levels, making sure they don’t go up too fast. In addition, chickpeas are a great source of protein. Studies have shown that consuming foods rich in protein will help maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
The American Diabetes Association recommends chickpeas as a source of fibre for people with diabetes. A 2014 study states that eating around 30g of fibre every day could reduce inflammation in individuals living with type 1 diabetes. Ideally, the recommended dosage for adults is 28.0 grams of fibre a day.
Another 2014 meta-analysis linked high fibre intake with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. So that’s why dieticians always state that a diabetes-friendly meal plan should include chickpeas.
Chickpeas Promote Bone Health
Chickpeas contain calcium, iron and magnesium, all necessary minerals that promote healthy and strong bone structure. Therefore, incorporating them into your daily diet is an excellent way of preventing osteoporosis. First, however, make sure to get rid of its phytates by soaking them beforehand. Phytates may prevent your body from absorbing the calcium present in chickpeas.
Chickpeas Help Manage Blood Pressure
Consuming chickpeas can help increase your potassium levels. Chickpeas are naturally high in this mineral. You should add chickpeas to your diet to meet your daily potassium requirements. A cup of chickpeas (200g) has 1,750 mg of potassium. Studies have shown that potassium is helpful in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. Adults should consume 4,700 mg of potassium every day.
If you’re planning to use canned chickpeas, pay attention to the sodium level in the ingredient listing. It is always best to cook with dry chickpeas to control and limit the sodium you consume. Recommendations suggest that you keep your sodium level below 2,300 each day to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Chickpeas Promote Heart Health
Chickpeas are high in B-vitamins, fibre, selenium, iron, and magnesium, ingredients that support heart health. For example, dietary fibre decreases the risk of developing heart disease because it lowers blood cholesterol levels. In addition, a research study has shown that the soluble fibre present in chickpeas reduces “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Chickpeas Help Combat Cancer
Free radicals are the cause of cancer. 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 is 6.1 mcg 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. This antioxidant coupled with fibre can help reduce your chances of developing cancer.
In addition, chickpeas contain a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which studies have shown can reduce inflammation in the colon cells. This ingredient helps to reduce cell growth and division and cause programmed cell death instead. Therefore, it helps lessen the risk of colorectal cancer.
Chickpeas Reduce Cholesterol
As mentioned earlier, chickpeas contain dietary fibre, an ingredient that helps reduce your cholesterol levels. The findings of a 2006 study show that participants who consumed chickpeas regularly had low LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels 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 the harmful cholesterol levels.
Chickpeas Improve Brain Function and Mental Health
In a single cup of chickpeas, there is 69.7 mg of choline. Choline 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 550 mg.
The recommended quantity can vary according to gender and conditions, like whether you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. In addition, the selenium content in chickpeas supports thinking and memory. A study examining the cognitive decline in the elderly found a decreased level of selenium.
Studies have also shown that some of the other nutrients found in chickpeas like magnesium, zinc, and selenium may play a role in protecting the brain against depression. However, another study also linked magnesium with anxiety and migraines.
Chickpeas Promote Digestive Health
Chickpeas are an excellent source of fibre, especially soluble fibre. Soluble fibre can help prevent any unhealthy bacteria overgrowth while also increasing the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown that consuming a high-fibre diet reduces your risk of developing digestive issues like colorectal cancer. It also helps keep your bowel movements regular and promotes good gut health.
Chickpeas Aid Weight Management
If you’re trying to lose weight or stay within a healthy weight range, then chickpeas are your ally. In addition, the dietary fibre in them acts as a bulking agent. As a result, chickpeas will make you feel fuller for a longer time. In addition, their high protein content also contributes to reducing your appetite and, therefore, limiting your caloric intake.
Chickpeas Help in the Prevention of Iron Deficiency
Iron is an essential mineral in the body. It helps the 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. In addition, some life-threatening health conditions may arise due to low iron levels. Chickpeas are an excellent source of iron. A single cup of chickpeas contains around 26% of the daily value. Chickpeas also consist of some vitamin C. A recent study found that combining vitamin C and iron may help increase the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Best Ways to Incorporate Chickpeas in Your Diet
You can easily include chickpeas into your diet. Listed below are two popular recipes that use this versatile ingredient.
#1 Hummus- Middle Eastern Dip
- Cooked chickpeas – 1 cup
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – 60 ml
- Tahini – 60 ml
- Minced clove of garlic – 1
- Olive oil – 30 ml
- Ground cumin – ½ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Water – 45 ml
- Paprika for garnishing
- Blend chickpeas, cumin powder, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a mixer or food processor. 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. However, do not exceed 45 ml of water.
- Once the ingredients are well-blended, remove them into a deep and wide bowl. Garnish the hummus with some paprika and or cumin and olive oil.
#2 Chickpea Salad
- Boiled chickpeas – 1 cup
- Extra virgin olive oil – 2 Tablespoons
- Lemon juice – Two teaspoons
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Chopped tomatoes – ½ cup
- Cubed cucumber – ½ cup
- Boiled chickpeas – 1 cup
- Sliced onion – ½
- Chopped coriander leaves – ¼ cup
- Black pepper – 1/8 tsp
- Mix all vegetables and the chickpeas in a deep bowl.
- Now, mix lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a separate mixing bowl.
- Pour over the cut vegetables and garnish with coriander.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Chickpeas?
- People with digestive tract diseases may want to avoid consuming chickpeas. They contain complex sugars that may be hard to break down when one’s gut health is compromised.
- If you are allergic to any other legumes, you may be allergic to chickpeas as well. If you’re allergic, then consumption of chickpeas may cause nausea, itching, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
- Excess consumption of chickpeas may also increase one’s uric acid levels, which could result in gout. However, keep in mind that this is only in the case of excess consumption. You will reap only the benefits mentioned in this article if you stick to the recommended amount.
Chickpeas: Things to Remember
- You can eat at least one serving (28 grams) of chickpeas per day. However, don’t eat more than 70 grams a day since that can cause adverse side effects.
- If you consume too many chickpeas, some side effects you may get include bloating, nausea, and gas.
- It’s important to remember that chickpeas should not be eaten raw. Raw chickpeas contain toxins and other problematic substances that are hard for your body to digest. Thus, they may give you food poisoning.
- If you’re consuming canned chickpeas, make sure to find one that says BPA-free on the label. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical often present in the coating on the inside of such cans. Also, make sure to wash them before eating.
- People using medications that may increase one’s potassium levels should consume chickpeas with caution since they already contain high amounts of potassium.
- Also, as long as one eats cooked chickpeas, they’re safe for consumption by pregnant women.
Historically, chickpeas are legumes that are from the Middle East. However, chickpeas are now famous worldwide. This small bean has a delicious nutty and buttery flavour, making it an excellent ingredient in many cuisines. Chickpeas also play a vital role in promoting health and preventing diseases. So make chickpeas a part of your daily diet and stay fit for life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are chickpeas a carbohydrate or protein?
A. Chickpeas have an average of 18 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein. Therefore, they are a rich source of both carbohydrates and protein.
Q. Are chickpeas good for weight loss or dieting?
A. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and dietary fibre, two nutrients that help control weight.
Q. Are chickpeas good for you?
A. Chickpeas are a superfood consisting of protein, fibre, and nutrients such as calcium, iron and more.
Q. Are chickpeas safe for consumption?
A. People should not eat raw chickpeas or other raw pulses, as they contain toxins and problematic substances to digest. In addition, even cooked chickpeas have complex sugars that can be difficult to digest and lead to intestinal gas and discomfort.
Q. Is it okay to eat chickpeas every day?
A. Yes, it is okay to eat them every day. They can help reduce your “bad” cholesterol, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease.
Q. Do chickpeas make you gain weight?
A. No, they don’t. On the contrary, they help you lose weight since they contain fibre which helps you feel full for longer.
Q. Do chickpeas have more protein than chicken?
A. No, chicken has more protein than chickpeas. There is 27g of protein in chicken, consisting of 239 calories. There is 14.5g of protein in chickpeas, comprised of 269 calories.
Q. What happens if you overeat chickpeas?
A. Eating too many chickpeas in one sitting can cause bloating and nausea. So, remember to eat in moderation!
Q. Does chickpeas cause gas?
A. Yes, eating too many chickpeas can cause gas.
Q. Can chickpeas be eaten raw?
A. No, chickpeas cannot be eaten raw as they contain toxins and are difficult for your body to digest. If you eat them raw, they may give you food poisoning.
Q. Is chickpeas good for hair?
A. The vitamin A and zinc present in chickpeas help prevent hair loss and dandruff.
Q. Are chickpeas good for diabetes?
A. Yes, chickpeas are helpful since they are a good source of protein and lower your blood sugar levels.
Q. Are chickpeas inflammatory?
A. Unless you are allergic to chickpeas or other legumes, they’re unlikely to cause any inflammation. Chickpeas contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Q. Are chickpeas good for cholesterol?
A. Yes, chickpeas can help reduce your “bad” cholesterol.
Q. How much protein is in 100g boiled chickpeas?
A. There are 19 grams of protein in 100 grams of boiled chickpeas.
Q. How many calories are in 100 grams of raw chickpeas?
A. There are 364 calories in 100 grams of raw chickpeas.