What are the benefits of chickpeas?

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a type of legume. The most common type has a round shape and a beige color, but black, green, or red are other varieties. Their nutrients have different health advantages.

Chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, as are other legumes, such as lentils. There are also several key vitamins and minerals in them.

This post examines why chickpeas can be a healthy option and how to cook with them.

Health benefits

chickpeas
For skin health, the protein in chickpeas can be helpful.

Chickpeas contain a variety of nutrients which are essential for bone, muscle, and skin health, including protein.

A dish of chickpeas and rice, for example, may add a large amount of protein to the diet for individuals who are cutting back on meat consumption. Almost one-third of the daily protein needs of an adult are given by a cup of chickpeas.

A variety of health conditions can also help avoid the nutrients in chickpeas.

Diabetes

12.5 g of fiber provides one cup of chickpeas, weighing 164 grams (g).

People with diabetes can benefit from fiber, and chickpeas are recommended as a source of dietary fiber by the American Diabetes Association.

A 2014 study concluded that in individuals with type 1 diabetes, consuming at least 30 g of fiber per day could help reduce inflammation.

A 2018 meta-analysis review found that a high fiber diet can help lower blood glucose levels and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes growth.

Depending on age and sex, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that adults eat 25.2–28.0 g of fiber a day.

Bone health

The iron, calcium, and other nutrients in chickpeas can all contribute to the structure and strength of healthy bones. In the diet of individuals who want to prevent osteoporosis, chickpeas can play a role.

Blood pressure

Experts recommend restricting the consumption of additional sodium or salt and increasing the intake of potassium in order to reduce high blood pressure.

Current recommendations suggest that at least 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day be ingested by adults.

474 mg of potassium is given by a cup of chickpeas, weighing 164 g.

People using canned chickpeas should check how much sodium has been added by the producers. Cooking with dry chickpeas can help reduce the amount of salt in a meal.

Adults should keep their intake of sodium below 2,300 mg per day, whereas people over the age of 51 and those with cardiovascular disease risk factors should consume less than 1,500 mg per day.

What other foods could help with blood pressure management? Find out here.

Heart health

Heart health is all helped by the nutrition, potassium, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium in chickpeas.

By reducing cholesterol levels in the blood, fiber helps decrease the risk of heart disease. No cholesterol is found in chickpeas.

Cancer

As a consequence of metabolism and other causes, free radicals are radioactive compounds that accumulate in the body. They can damage cells as these toxins build up and contribute to a number of health issues, including cancer.

Antioxidants help remove free radicals in the body, and selenium and beta carotene work as antioxidants in chickpeas.

6.1 micrograms (mcg) of selenium is contained in a cup of chickpeas. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends that 55 mcg of selenium a day be consumed by adults. They also note that the antioxidant activity of selenium might help protect the body from cancer.

Moreover, there is evidence that the fiber found in chickpeas will help to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Can a person’s diet help with breast cancer prevention? Here, find out.

Cholesterol

A small 2006 study showed that, relative to a diet with added wheat, participants had less low density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol in their blood when they consumed a diet with added chickpeas for 5 weeks.

The researchers noted that the reduction in LDL cholesterol could be responsible for the fiber in chickpeas.

Mental health

A cup of chickpeas contains 69.7 mg of choline, which facilitates the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Choline, as well as the metabolism of the body, plays a part in mood, muscle regulation, learning, and memory.

The ODS recommends that adults, depending on sex and whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding, consume 400-550 mg of choline daily.

Some research indicates that the likelihood of cognitive decline in older individuals may be increased by selenium deficiency. This would indicate that selenium can promote cognitive health, including memory and thinking.

Regularity and Digestion

Fiber helps to maintain a balanced digestive tract and encourages regularity. A good source of fiber is chickpeas.

Satiety and weight control

Dietary fibers in the digestive system act as bulking agents. Bulking agents, after eating, improve the feeling of fullness, and protein has the same effect.

After eating, feeling fuller for longer will help reduce your appetite and lower the caloric intake of a person.

Anemia

The body does not supply oxygen to its cells without iron, and this can lead to anemia due to iron deficiency. Weakness and tiredness are among the symptoms. Life threatening complications may occur in serious cases.

A cup of chickpeas contains 4.7 mg of iron, or, depending on the individual, between half and one-fifth of the daily requirement of an individual. It also provides some vitamin C that allows iron to be absorbed by the body.

Nutrition

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the following table shows the amount of each nutrient in 1 cup of chickpeas.

It also illustrates how much of each nutrient, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a person should eat every day. However, according to age and sex, the criteria differ.

NutrientsAmount in 1 cup of chickpeas (164 g)Requirements per day
Energy (calories)2671,800–3,200
Protein (g)14.446–56
Fat (g)4.220–35% of daily calories should be fat
Carbohydrates (g)44.7, including 7.8 g of sugar130
Fiber (g)12.522.4–33.6
Calcium (mg)80.41,000–1,300
Iron (mg)4.78–18
Magnesium (mg)78.7310–420
Phosphorus (mg)274700–1,250
Potassium (mg)4744,700
Zinc (mg)2.58–11
Copper (mcg)0.6890–900
Selenium (mcg)6.155
Vitamin C (mg)2.175–90
Folate (mcg)280400
Choline (mg)69.7425–550
Beta carotene (mcg)26.2700–900
Vitamin E (mg)0.615
Vitamin K (mcg)6.675–120

Chickpeas are an excellent choice for individuals adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet, as they include protein, iron, selenium, and B vitamins.

Recipes and diet

In grocery stores, people can buy chickpeas all year, dried or canned. They are easy to add to every meal because of their nutty flavor and buttery texture.

Preparing dried chickpeas

  1. Sort and wash: There may be small rocks, dust, or other debris in the package, depending on the supplier.
  2. Soak: Leave the chickpeas overnight in water, or until the fingers split easily. It decreases the cooking time by soaking dried legumes, helps break down ingredients that can cause gastrointestinal irritation, and eliminates some harmful substances in raw legumes.
  3. Cook: Drain the chickpeas and rinse, then place them with plenty of water in a pan. Simmer on the stove for 2 hours until they are tender. Remember to top up the water from time to time.

Other options include cooking them:

  • in a pressure cooker for 1 hour
  • in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat

Tips for eating

Quick tips for incorporating cooked or canned chickpeas into a diet include:

  • tossing chickpeas, vegetables, and a variety of other legumes — such as beans and lentils — in vinaigrette to make a protein-rich salad
  • sprinkling some canned or roasted chickpeas into a salad to add texture and a nutty flavor
  • using chickpea flour when baking to add fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • blending chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini to make hummus, which can be a dip or spread
  • adding chickpeas to a vegetable soup or stew to add nutrients, and serving with whole-grain rice for complete protein
  • using chickpeas to replace some or all of the meat in soups and stews
  • mixing chickpeas with any spice for a delicious side or snack
  • making falafel by mashing chickpeas with cumin, garlic, chili, and coriander, separating the mixture into small balls, and frying them until they are crisp

Or, try some of these healthful recipes:

Risks

As they contain toxins and substances that are hard to digest, people should not eat raw chickpeas or other raw pulses.

Even cooked chickpeas have complex sugars that can be hard to digest and lead to discomfort and intestinal gas.

Slowly incorporate legumes into the diet so that the body can get used to them.

IBS and Fiber

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can get worse with certain forms of fiber.

Anyone with this condition should seek advice from their doctor on which types of fiber to eat.

Potassium and chickpeas

Beta-blockers are a form of drug frequently prescribed for heart disease by physicians. They can cause blood levels of potassium to rise.

Potassium can help with blood pressure control, but too much of it can be toxic to the kidneys. People who use beta-blockers can eat high-potassium foods in moderation, such as chickpeas.

Sources

  • Bernaud, F. S. R., et al. (2014). Fiber intake and inflammation in type 1 diabetes. 
    (LINK)
  • Chickpeas, dry, cooked, fat not added in cooking. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Choline. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Dietary proteins. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • El-Salhy, M., et al. (2017). Dietary fiber in irritable bowel syndrome (review).
    (LINK)
  • Get to know carbs. (n.d.).
    (LINK)
  • Kunzmann, A. T. (2015). Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.
    (LINK)
  • McRae, M. P. (2018). Dietary fiber intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus: An umbrella review of meta-analyses.
    (LINK)
  • Nutritional goals for age-sex groups based on dietary reference intakes and Dietary Guidelines recommendations. (n.d.).
    (LINK)
  • Pittaway, J. K., et al. (2006). Dietary supplementation with chickpeas for at least 5 weeks results in small but significant reductions in serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterols in adult women and men. 
    (LINK)
  • Preventing and reversing osteoporosis. (n.d.). 
    (LINK)
  • What are the benefits of chickpeas? (LINK)
  • Selenium: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Vitamin A: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Vitamin C: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Whelton, P. K. (2018). Sodium and potassium intake in US adults.
    (LINK)
  • Whole grains, refined grains, and dietary fiber. (2016). (LINK)

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