Chickpeas have been around for seven thousand years and are the healthiest food you can eat. Be it falafel, hummus, sattu, or roasted chickpea snack, the buzz around chickpea is not understated. They are nutritious and bestow several health benefits.
We have listed down all the health benefits chickpeas have to offer.
Before, we begin just a quick introduction to chickpeas.
What are Chickpeas?
The tiny round beige-colored beans, commonly known as Kabuli chana in India, are super nutritious chickpeas. They are a type of pulses belonging to the legume family. The most common type is the round and beige-colored Kabuli type; other varieties include the red, green, and the desi black chana.
They also go by their Spanish name Garbanzo beans and have a nutty, buttery flavor and a creamy texture.
Why eat Chickpeas?
Well, for one thing, you should eat chickpeas because they are teeming with healthy nutrients. Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, making them a go-to food for all.
A single cup of chickpea can fulfill 20% of your daily requirements of protein and fiber.
Chickpeas are bursting with B-complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, niacin. B-complex vitamins, though required in fewer amounts by the body but significant to its functioning. They act as co-factors to enzymes that regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Chickpeas also pack several minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium. One cup of chickpeas provides 4.7 mg of iron i.e. half to one-fifth of a daily requirement.
What are the health benefits of eating chickpeas?
Chickpeas are small but pretty mighty when it comes to protecting your health. Did you know that Chickpeas are the most extensively studied pulse/legume in context to health benefits? According to research, chickpeas can solve not one but many of our health problems.
Here is the how and why.
1. Chickpeas help in weight loss.
Chickpeas help in weight loss in multiple ways. Firstly, they have an alkalizing effect, and our bodies can burn fat faster at alkaline pH.
Secondly, Chickpeas have two potent weapons that tackle your weight issues like a pro; proteins and fiber.
Fiber adds bulk to food, thereby delaying digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness. Proteins promote satiety as well as increase the secretion of the appetite-suppressing hormone- Leptin.
Protein and fiber work synergistically to control hunger, lowers caloric intake throughout the day, thereby aiding your weight loss endeavor; A win-win situation, right?
An Australian study, published in a journal called Appetite, accentuates the role of chickpea in weight loss.
A group of 42 volunteers ate about 100 gm of chickpeas daily in addition to their usual diets for 12 weeks and then back to their typical diets for a month.
The volunteers who ate 100gm of chickpeas every day ate less of every food group, especially grains.
The participants also reported that they felt fuller while eating chickpeas. However, on returning to their usual diet, their intake of processed snacks increased. Read – Healthy Snacking: 5 Reasons to Snack Healthy.
Make sure to include chickpeas in your weight loss diet. Roasted chickpeas make good weight loss snacks.
2. Chickpeas manage your blood sugar levels.
It’s time to get serious about our blood sugar levels, diabetes or not. Irregular blood sugar levels lead to heart diseases, obesity, PCOS, and certain cancers.
The food we eat digested to the basic form- glucose. The cells take up glucose under the direction of insulin. The type of food we eat directs how fast or slow our blood sugar levels rise.
So, how do chickpeas help in managing blood sugar levels?
Chickpeas have a low glycemic index. They are also high in fiber and protein, putting them on top of the list for diabetes-friendly foods.
The combination of protein and fiber is best when it comes to battling erratic blood sugar levels. They promote a steady rise in blood sugar levels so that body has enough time to clear it (take up in the cells). Blood sugar levels remain normal, and you stay healthy.
Chickpea is a safe source of carbohydrates for people with diabetes, and consuming as little as ½ cup of the day has been shown to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
Research link- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18502235/
3. Chickpeas for gut health
Chickpeas contain fiber. Fiber acts as a bulking agent preventing constipation and keeping the digestive tract healthy.
Chickpeas contain an oligosaccharide called raffinose. Raffinose is a soluble fiber fermented by colonic bacteria.
As a result of fermentation, butyrate -a short-chain fatty acid is released. Butyrate is the source of energy for colon cells, reduces inflammation, and regularizes colon activity.
The common misconception is that chickpeas cause bloating and produce gas. The resistant starch in chickpea takes time to digest. But when soaked and cooked, the stubborn sugars are broken down, making it easier to digest and prevents gas formation.
You can soak chickpea for 6 hours to 12 to 24 hours. Soaking also reduces cooking time. Cooked, Boiled, or roasted chickpea are a few ways you can safely add chickpeas to your daily diet.
In a study conducted at Arizona state university, one group of volunteers added ½ cup of carrot and another ½ cup of beans to their diet.
During the first week, only 35% of the people eating beans complained of gas, and by the next week, the complainants were down by 19%. The number continued to decline each week, to 11% by week four, and down to 3% by week eight.
So, if gas and bloating have been stopping you from adding this superfood to your diet, then just give your body some time to adapt.
Research link- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18502235/
4. Chickpeas promote mental health.
Mental health is a significant aspect of health. Our nervous system and brain require several nutrients to function efficiently. The deficiency of these nutrients can affect our moods, muscle control, memory, and metabolism. One such nutrient of utmost consequence is choline.
We require up to 500mg of choline per day for our brain and nervous tissue to function perfectly. One cup of chickpea provides up to 69.7mg of choline, which is quite remarkable.
Other nutrients vital to brain and nervous tissue are folic acid, magnesium, selenium, and antioxidants, all of which are in abundance in super nutritious chickpea.
Next time you feel low or cranky, try replacing unhealthy snacks like chips or candies with a roasted chickpea snack and see the difference for yourself.
5. Chickpeas are rich in antioxidants.
Our bodies produce free radicals every minute. Free damage cells and interfere with the functioning of various organ systems. Antioxidants help to neutralize these harmful free radicals.
Chickpeas house a unique supply of antioxidants that protect us from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Chickpeas contain antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and betacarotene. They are also brimming with potent phytonutrients.
There are two types of phytonutrients found in chickpeas.
- Phenolic compounds like ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid, found in the interior portions of the beans.
- Flavonoids like quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, generally found in the outer layer of the beans.
Another antioxidant found in abundance in chickpeas is magnesium.
Magnesium is a key antioxidant within the energy-producing unit of the cell (mitochondria). One cup of chickpeas can provide nearly 85% of the Daily Value (DV) of magnesium.
Chickpea, depending on their thickness and color, house significant amounts of anthocyanins too.
6. Chickpeas are good for the heart.
A bowl of roasted chickpea a day can keep all your heart troubles away.
The fiber in chickpeas helps remove the ‘bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) from the body.
Chickpeas contain a sterol known as sitosterol that is structurally similar to cholesterol and thus interferes with the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine.
The rich antioxidant profile of chickpea also protects the heart. Chickpeas are not high in fat but still contain commendable amounts of omega-3. Each cup provides up to 70-80 mg of ALA.
Research link- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17191025/
7. Chickpeas protect against cancer.
Chickpeas have all nutrients to fight cancer as well as protect us from harmful carcinogens.
Good proteins, omega 3, antioxidants, and essential micronutrients – a perfect mix to keep your body healthy and your immunity strong.
Chickpea like soybean contains o-methylated isoflavone, a compound- the Biochanin A. Biochanin A is a plant estrogen that is highly effective against cancer cells.
We have already discussed the role of fiber in fighting colorectal cancer and antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and remove the free radicals, a well-known cause of cancer.
With numerous health benefits to offer, chickpeas should be an integral part of an anti-cancer diet program.
From everything that we have discussed so far, chickpeas are undisputedly a superfood. Though not popular and exotic, Roasted chickpea snacks are the snacks of the future.
Chickpeas are versatile and can be a part of your diet in numerous ways.
Boil it to add them to soups and curries or make hummus and use as dips. Roasted chickpeas can be flavored with spices to make a healthy snack on the go.
Binge on super-nutritious chickpeas, which are indeed the next-gen superfood.