Are Chickpeas Healthy? Why This Nutritionist Calls Them ‘Nutrient Powerhouses’

I have been obsessed with chickpeas for many years. As a nutritionist, I have been promoting the nutritional and health benefits of this powerful plant. As a plant-based chef, I am impressed by the countless ways to incorporate chickpeas into savoury and sweet dishes, from traditional hummus to chickpea ice cream. Here’s more about why chickpeas, also known as chickpeas, should be a staple in your diet.

What are chickpeas?

Chickpeas belong to the legume family and are a unique subclass of legumes. Legumes, including beans, lentils, and dried peas, are the dried edible seeds of legumes, low in fat, and high in protein and fiber. High-fat legumes, such as peanuts and soybeans, are not legumes, nor are they fresh peas and beans. Chickpeas originated in the Middle East and are one of the most widely consumed beans in the world. There are dozens of different varieties, including European light yellow chickpeas popular in the United States, as well as black, dark brown and red chickpeas. You can find chickpeas in the same aisle of canned beans and bagged beans in the grocery store. Chickpea plants can grow to about 2 feet tall, with small feathery leaves and white or red-blue flowers. A pod contains one to three peas and is about half an inch in diameter. Garbanzo is the name of chickpeas in the Spanish-speaking country.

Chickpea Nutrients

Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse. According to the USDA database, 1 cup of cooked chickpeas provides 269 calories, 14.5 grams of protein, 4.25 grams of fat and 44.9 grams of carbohydrates, as well as up to 12.5 grams of dietary fiber. This exceeds 44% of the recommended daily fiber intake. Chickpeas are also rich in key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition, people who regularly consume chickpeas and/or hummus not only have higher fiber intakes, but also higher intakes of vitamins A, E and C; Folic acid; magnesium; potassium; and iron. 1 cup of cooked chickpeas provides more than 80% of the daily manganese value. Manganese is a mineral required by the body to produce energy; protect cells; and support strong bones, blood clotting and immunity. The same amount also contains most of the various nutrients needed for daily use: more than 70% of the daily folic acid requirement, folic acid helps to make DNA; 26% iron, helps transport oxygen to the body; 20% magnesium, helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure , Muscle and nerve function; 14% potassium is necessary to control blood pressure and kidney, heart, muscle and nerve function; and 17% immune support zinc. According to a report in 2020, legumes including chickpeas are also rich in antioxidants, which are related to the prevention of heart disease, cancer and neurological diseases.

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free and are not a common cause of allergies or intolerances. They also have incredible health protection. The Harvard School of Public Health stated that eating chickpeas and other legumes can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and increase beneficial intestinal bacteria to support digestive health and fight inflammation. According to government data, people who regularly consume hummus/hummus are more likely to have a lower body mass index and waist circumference than those who do not eat hummus/hummus. The author of an Australian study asked 42 volunteers to consume about 3.5 ounces of chickpeas a day for 12 weeks and then resume their normal diet within a month. Participants’ food diaries showed that during the chickpea intervention, they ate less food from each food group, especially grains.

The Benefits of Chickpeas Go Beyond Nutrition

Legumes, including chickpeas, are very environmentally friendly. In addition to drought resistance (beans use only one-tenth of the water of other proteins) and cold resistance, beans can also enrich the soil in which they grow, thereby reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. They are also easily available and reasonably priced. A 1-pound bag of dried chickpeas, containing 13 servings, usually sells for less than US$1.50, while a 15.5 ounce can of 3.5 servings of chickpeas sells for about US$0.85.

Chickpea Side Effects

When you increase your chickpea intake for the first time, you may experience more gas, but research shows that your body will adapt. One study actually measured this using beans. For eight weeks, 40 volunteers added half a cup of canned carrots (the control group, because this vegetable rarely triggers the GI effect) or half a cup of beans every day. In the first week, approximately 35% of bean-eaters reported increased flatulence (Note: 65% did not). By the second week, only 19% of people reported excessive gas. And this number continues to decline every week-to 3% in the 8th week, which is the same as the reaction of carrot eaters.

Since chickpeas belong to the same family as beans, you can expect similar digestion adjustments. If you buy dried chickpeas, soak them overnight, and then drain the soaking water. This will leach the natural compounds in the beans and cause gas. For canned chickpeas, draining and rinsing thoroughly can also help suppress bloating.

Ways to Enjoy Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of the most versatile foods on the planet. For breakfast, I mixed them into a smoothie, then mashed it slightly, and sautéed it with vegetables, herbs and chickpeas. I like oven roasted chickpeas as a snack or garden salad. Chickpeas provide a variety of plant protein sources, from soups and bowls to stir-fries, curries, casseroles, tacos, frozen protein salads (rather than chicken or tuna), falafels, vegetarian burgers, and of course chickpeas.

Chickpeas also add a lot to desserts. They can be turned into cookie dough, blondes, brownies, dark chocolate truffles and bark, fudge, pudding, dessert hummus, and more.Aquafaba, the liquid in canned chickpeas or the water used to boil and dry chickpeas, has become a sensation. It can be used as a vegan substitute for dairy products and eggs, used to make meringues, mayonnaise, and even vegan ice cream or chocolate mousse. Today, there are a wide variety of chickpea products on the market, including chickpea protein powder, flour, butter/spread, pasta, puffed snacks, granola and cereals. What I really like is:

  • SimplyFUEL Protein Powder-Chickpea Protein
  • Bob’s Red Mill Chickpea Flour
  • Amazing Chickpea Chocolate Hummus Sauce

Bottom Line

Eating more chickpeas has many benefits, and eating more chickpeas can improve the shortcomings of flatulence/bloating. I recommend that my customers add half a cup of legumes, including chickpeas, to their meals as a source of protein or fiber-rich carbohydrates. Of course you can eat more, but it is best to eat more so that the digestive system has time to adjust. Also make sure to drink plenty of water to help your body process the fiber provided by chickpeas. In order to increase your intake, BPA-free canned chickpeas especially provide a simple, economical, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat option. Store them as a staple food to take advantage of their multiple uses and benefits.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, New York Times best-selling author, and private practice nutritionist consultation for five professional sports teams.

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