Chickpeas may not look like much, but they are a true powerhouse of healthy eating and one of the most famous legumes around the world, which come with a multitude of health benefits.
Also called garbanzo beans, these small, nutty-tasting beans have been part of some of the healthiest populations living around the world for over 7,500 years and are a crucial part of traditional cuisines of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Chickpeas are so popular because they are easy to grow and have a condensed nutritional profile, providing us with large amounts of plant-based protein and dietary fiber, are a great source of magnesium, iron, folate and phosphorus, contain a large number of essential vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins and give us a rich blend of antioxidants.
Whether you enjoy a creamy Moroccan hummus, a spicy Indian curry or a delicious Spanish soup, chickpeas fill you up without taking a toll on your midsection. But did you know that ground roast chickpeas were even used as a coffee substitute in Europe way back in 1793?
Before we get into all the health benefits that chickpeas can provide, let?s have a look at the nutritional profile of chickpeas.
One cup serving of chickpeas contains (based on daily recommended values):
268 calories | 14.5 grams of protein | 12.5 grams of dietary fiber | 4.2 grams of fat | 84% manganese | 71% folate | 29% copper | 28% phosphorus | 26% iron | 20% magnesium | 17% zinc
Here are our TOP 10 health benefits of chickpeas.
#1 Regulate Blood Sugar LevelsLike all legumes, chickpeas are complex carbs that the body digests slowly and uses for energy. This is important, because not all carbohydrates are created equal and some (simple carbs like refined flour, white bread, candy and soda) can raise blood sugar levels very quickly, which leads to spikes and drops in energy, while complex carbs give us sustained fuel over a longer period of time. Chickpeas contain starch, which is a slow burning carbohydrate that takes an extended period of time to break down, helps to regulate blood sugar levels and gives us continuous energy.
#2 Aid in Weight LossThe high fiber content of chickpeas is helping us to feel satiated for long periods of times, which helps us to curb food cravings and stay away from junk food and unhealthy snacks. Several studies show that people on high fiber diets tend to have lower body weight and chickpeas may even contribute to cutting body fat. The other nutrient we have to talk about when it comes to chickpea?s ability to aid in weight loss is protein. Studies show that people on high protein diets aren?t just able to lose body weight, but they were also able to shed more body fat. Additionally, protein?s thermic effect is 30%, which means that you burn 30% of the calories while digesting protein. And as an added bonus, if you are trying to lose weight and cut calories by avoiding certain foods from your diet, chickpeas are so nutrient dense, you won?t fall behind on your optimum nutrition.
#3 Boost Digestive HealthWe come back to the high fiber content of chickpeas. With approximately 6 to 7 grams of fiber for a half cup serving, chickpeas make the TOP 20 of ultimate high fiber foods and fiber boosts digestive health by quickly moving food through the digestive tract, preventing constipation while promoting regularity. Maybe even more importantly, fiber helps to balance pH levels and increase healthy gut bacteria while at the same time reducing the number of unhealthy gut bacteria.
#4 Protect Heart HealthOne major reason for developing heart disease are elevated levels of cholesterol and chickpeas have been found to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, reduce hypertension and protect our heart in multiple ways. The high fiber in combination with potassium and B vitamins as well as vitamin C all support heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and removing plaque from the arteries. Additionally, the folate contained in chickpeas also contributes to a healthy heart, because it counteracts amino acids that help to form blood clots.
#5 Great Source of ProteinWith almost 15 grams of protein in a one cup serving, chickpeas are one of the best sources of plant-based proteins and protein is an essential macro nutrient that plays an important role in nearly every function of our body. When you work out, an adequate amount of protein is a must to support muscle growth and repair, keep your energy up and balance hormone levels. However, keep in mind that the protein contained in chickpeas is incomplete, which means it doesn?t contain all essential amino acids the body requires, so combine it with with other sources of protein like whole grains, nuts or veggies to make it ?complete?.
#6 Help Reduce InflammationStudies show that having at least four servings of chickpeas a week can significantly reduce your chances of inflammation and improve certain metabolic features. The most important nutrients of chickpeas that help fight inflammation are vitamins A, B6 and C, choline, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and selenium. Choline for example increases your body?s ability to absorb fat, which is detrimental in helping your body put up a defense against inflammation.
#7 Protect SkinNobody likes wrinkles, but if you incorporate more chickpeas into your diet, you can give your skin a youthful boost. This is due to the manganese found in garbanzo beans, which gives cells energy and is known to fight free radicals, which are the culprit of wrinkles. Additionally, the boost of B vitamins gives cells the fuel to stay young. Besides eating chickpeas, you can also cleanse your face with them. Smash chickpeas into a paste, combine it with turmeric and apply the mix onto your face for 15 minutes, wash it off with cold water and you will brighten your face and reduce age spots.
#8 Help Prevent CancerSelenium is the mineral that helps the liver to function properly, allowing it to detox cancer-causing compounds from the body and while selenium isn?t found in most fruits and veggies, we can find it in chickpeas. Selenium also lowers inflammation and helps to prevent the growth of tumors. The fiber contained in chickpeas helps to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and the vitamin C of chickpeas works as an antioxidant that fights free radicals to help prevent cancer altogether. Additionally, studies found that the isoflavones found in chickpeas may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
#9 Strengthen BonesWe all know how important calcium is for our bone health and chickpeas contain plenty of it. But maybe even more importantly, chickpeas are packed with magnesium, which is the other mineral that our body uses to build bones. And to help maintain bone structure, chickpeas also contains manganese, zinc and vitamin K. Additionally, vitamin K helps to improve calcium absorption and iron and zinc are important to produce and mature collagen, an important protein to support bone health and the health of cartilages.
#10 Protects Eye HealthWe all spend a lot of time staring into a computer screen, which is bad for our eyes, so we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our eyes. Chickpeas are packed with vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin to protect our eyes, skin and mucous membrane. Additionally, chickpeas contain beta-carotene, which gives a boost to our eye health and let?s not forget the zinc in chickpeas, which helps to transport the vitamin A from the liver to the retina. It has also been found that zinc may be able to prevent the progression of macular degeneration.
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, which helps our body to repair and grow muscles after an intense workout and provide us with the good kind of complex carbs and fiber we need to refill our glycogen storage. If you are looking for a new chickpea recipe, check out our Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich. You can enjoy it as a sandwich or simply indulge in the salad.
WANT A BIG DOSE OF PROTEIN BUT ARE VEGAN? CHICKPEAS ARE YOUR ANSWER!
Joschi & Monika#FitFlavah