Indeed! Chickpeas are good for you.
Chickpeas have been around for seven thousand years and are the healthiest food you can eat. Be it falafel, hummus, sattu flour, or roasted chickpea snack, the buzz around chickpea is not unaccounted for. They are extremely nutritious and bestow several health benefits.
What are Chickpeas?
The tiny round beige-colored beans which we know as Kabuli chana are the super nutritious chickpea. 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.
Chickpeas also go by their Spanish name the Garbanzo beans. They have a nutty, buttery flavor and a creamy texture.
How Are Chickpeas Good For You?
Chickpeas are teeming with healthy nutrients. They are high in protein and fiber, making it a go-to-food for all.
A single cup of chickpea can fulfill 20% of your daily requirements of protein and fiber.
Furthermore, they 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, are extremely significant. They act as co-factors to enzymes that regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium are abundantly present in chickpea. In fact, 1 cup of chickpea provides 4.7 mg of iron i.e. half to one-fifth of a daily requirement, depending on the individual, of course!
What Are The Health Benefits of Chickpeas?
Chickpeas may be small in size but are pretty mighty when it comes to protecting your health. They are a real superfood.
Did you know that chickpeas are the most extensively studied pulse/legume in context to health benefits? According to all this research, chickpeas can solve more than one of our health problems.
Chickpeas Help In Weight Loss.
Chickpeas help in weight loss in several ways.
Firstly, chickpeas are alkaline in nature. They have an alkalizing effect on the body. Our bodies can burn fat and lose weight faster in an alkaline ph.
Secondly, they have two potent weapons that can tackle your weight issues like a Pro- proteins, and fiber.
Fiber is well-known for adding bulk to the food. Fiber delays digestion and makes you feel full. Protein, in addition, to promoting satiety also increases the secretion of appetite-suppressing hormone- the Leptin.
Protein and fiber work synergistically to control appetite. As a result, your caloric intake throughout the day decreases 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 evidently.
In this study, 42 volunteers were asked to eat about 100 gm of chickpeas daily in addition to their usual diets for 12 weeks, and then return to their typical diets for a month.
On evaluating their food journal it was found that they ate less of every food group especially grains during the 12 week period (i.e. when they were eating 100gm of chickpeas every day). The participants reported that they felt fuller while eating chickpeas. It was also noted that when they returned to their typical diet for a month, their intake of processed snacks increased.
So, if you are on a weight loss diet, make sure chickpeas are a part of it.
Chickpeas Are Good For Your Blood Sugar.
It’s time to get serious about our blood sugar levels, diabetes, or not.
An irregular blood sugar level is linked to heart disease, obesity, PCOS, and certain cancers.
The food we eat is broken down into glucose (or sugar as we know it). The glucose from the blood is taken up by the cells. Insulin regulates the entry of glucose from the blood into the cells. The type of food we eat influences the release of sugar into the blood.
Good carbohydrates release sugar at a slower rate. On the other hand, Refined and simple carbohydrates are released quickly into the bloodstream. Consequently, raising the blood sugar levels. This sudden spike in sugar increases the demand for insulin, leading to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, weight gain, and other lifestyle diseases.
So, how does chickpea help in managing blood sugar levels?
They are low glycemic food which means they contain good carbohydrates and slowly release glucose in the blood.
Moreover, They are high in fiber and protein, putting them on top of the list for diabetes-friendly foods. Proteins and fiber, together are apt at battling erratic blood sugar levels.
Protein and fiber increase the intestinal transit time and release sugar at a slow rate. As a result, your blood sugar levels remain normal and you stay healthy.
Chickpea is a safe source of carbohydrates for people with diabetics and consuming as little as ½ cup of chickpeas per day has shown to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
Chickpeas And Gut Health
For years eating chickpeas has been falsely linked to gastric discomfort and bloating. However, the fact is that chickpeas are quite beneficial to your gut health.
Firstly, chickpeas are a good source of fiber. fiber acts as a laxative and a bulking agent. This helps prevent constipation and keeps the digestive tract healthy.
Secondly, they contain a type of soluble fiber called, raffinose. Raffinose is fermented by the good bacteria in the gut i.e. Bifidobacterium. This fermentation process produces a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate.
Now, Butyrate is a source of energy for the colon cells which helps reduce inflammation in the colon wall, regularizes colon activity, and prevents colorectal cancer.
Lastly, the myth that Chickpeas produce gas is due to the presence of resistant starch. The resistant starch takes time to digest as a result may lead to gas troubles. However, soaking chickpeas for 12-24 hours breaks down this stubborn starch and makes it easier to digest chickpeas thereby preventing gas formation.
Chickpeas And Mental Health
Mental health is a significant aspect of health. Our nervous system and brain require several nutrients to function efficiently. The dearth of any of them 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 69.7 mg of choline, which is quite remarkable.
Chickpeas also contain significant amounts of folic acid, selenium, and antioxidants, required for healthy mental function.
Next time you feel low or cranky, try eating a handful of roasted chickpeas instead of unhealthy snacks like chips or candies. We are sure you will feel much better!
Chickpeas Are Rich In Antioxidants.
Our bodies produce free radicals every minute, as a by-product of normal wear and tear. As free radicals accumulate, they damage cells and interfere with the functioning of various organ systems. Free radicals are harmful and need to be neutralized. This is where the antioxidants come in for the rescue.
Chickpeas house a unique supply of antioxidants that protect us from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. They contain valuable amounts of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and betacarotene.
Chickpeas are brimming with healthy and potent phytonutrients. Two types of phytonutrients are found in chickpeas-
- Phenolic compounds- found in the interior portions of the beans. Eg:- Ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid.
- Flavonoids – found in the outer layer of the beans. Eg:- quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin.
Another crucial antioxidant found abundantly in chickpeas is magnesium. Magnesium plays a key role as an antioxidant within the energy-producing unit of the cell (the mitochondria). One cup of chickpea can provide nearly 85% of the Daily Value (DV) for this key antioxidant.
Chickpeas Promote Heart Health.
A bowl of roasted chickpea a day can keep all your heart troubles at bay.
Chickpea with its super-powerful fiber helps remove the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) from the body. They contain a sterol known as ‘sitosterol‘. Sitosterol is structurally similar to cholesterol. As a result, sitosterol interferes with the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine itself.
Although chickpeas are not fatty food, they still contain a commendable amount of omega 3 i.e. the alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA). Each cup provides up to 70-80 mg of ALA.
In addition, the rich antioxidant profile, B-complex vitamins, and mineral content make chickpea good food for your heart.
Chickpeas Protect Against Cancer.
Yup, cancer too! Chickpeas have everything to promote good health.
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.
Like soybean, chickpea contains O-methylated isoflavone compound- the Biochanin A. Biochanin A is a plant estrogen that is highly effective against cancer cells.
Chickpeas contain several Isoflavones– the Gylcetein, Genistein, Daidzein, and Formonontein, for instance, which are known to reduce the risk of postmenopausal cancers and osteoporosis.
With numerous health benefits to offer, chickpeas should definitely 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 as the ‘so-called Healthy’ energy bar, roasted chickpea snacks are the snacks of the future.
Chickpeas are a versatile food. Boil them and add it to soups curries; make hummus and use it as dips or spread. Roasted chickpea as a snack is a great option too.
So fella’s, binge-on these super-nutritious chickpeas which are indeed a next-gen superfood.