Superfood: Chickpeas

Dr. Axe loves chickpeas too!

Chickpeas Nutrition & Benefits

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world and remain one of the most popular today across nearly every continent. Chickpeas have been a part of certain traditional diets for over 7,500 years!

Chickpeas are still included in the diets of some of the healthiest populations living around the world today, including those eating traditional cuisines that stem from the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and African nations too. Second to the soybean, the chickpea is the next most widely grown and eaten bean in the world.

Chickpeas are a type of legume that offer a range of health benefits. Chickpeas help to increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. Chickpeas nutrition is a potent package of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is why they are often included in many healing diets.

Chickpeas Nutrition Facts

Chickpeas nutrition truly proves what an amazing superfood chickpeas really are! Just one cup serving of chickpeas contains (in daily recommended values):

  • 268 calories
  • 12.5 grams of dietary fiber
  • 14.5 grams of protein
  • 4.2 grams of fat
  • 84% manganese
  • 71% folate
  • 29% copper
  • 28% phosphorus
  • 26% iron
  • 17% zinc

6 Top Chickpea Health Benefits

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, iron, zinc, phosphorus, B vitamins and more. With so many vitamins and nutrients, chickpeas benefit the body in a number of different ways. Here are the top six health benefits of chickpeas:

1. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels

bowl of chickpeas

Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a form of complex carbohydrate that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. This is essential, as all carbohydrates are not created equal; some quickly raise  blood sugar levels and lead to “spikes and dips” in energy (these are called simple or fast carbs), while others do the opposite and give us sustained fuel ((these are called complex carbs).

Chickpeas nutrition includes starch, which is a slow burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood (1).

Unlike simple sugars- found in processed products like refined flour, white bread and pasta, soda, candy, and most other packaged foods- the starches found in chickpeas take an extended period of time to break down once consumed.

Starches contain natural sugars called glucose, which the body uses easily for many essential functions, however glucose can be troublesome for people who are pre-diabetic or who have diabetes. The process of digesting and utilizing the glucose found in all beans and starches is drawn-out, which is extremely important for diabetics who  have trouble reaching a stable blood sugar level after contain sugars due to a resistance to insulin (2).

Weight Loss

2. Increases Satiety and Helps with Weight Loss

Chickpeas are high in both protein and fiber, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking. Studies have shown that consuming fiber is correlated with having a lower body weight (3).

Beans make a filling addition to any recipe because of their fiber, complex carbs, and protein. These macronutrients work together to give us a feeling of being full after eating, while also helping to control our blood sugar levels and therefore maintaining our energy.

Frequently consuming foods like fat burning garbanzo beans is an excellent way to aid in healthy and sustainable weight lossThe -feeling of satiety makes you less likely to snack on empty-calorie, processed junk foods between meals which can stall your weight loss.

Chickpeas are even more filling if you pair them with other nutritious whole-foods, like vegetables or organic goat cheese. Because they are so low in calories but high in essential fiber and protein, they are a perfect food for those that need to lose some weight but who are watching calorie intake.

3. Improves Digestion Thanks to a High Fiber Content

Chickpeas make my list for the 20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods, with roughly 6-7 grams per half cup serving. Unfortunately the modern western diet that many Americans consume leaves them deficient in dietary fiber; in fact it’s believed that less than 5 percent of Americans get the daily recommended amount of dietary fiber that they need to consume through food each day.

Fiber facilitates in healthy digestion by quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, helping  to decrease symptoms of IBS and constipation. Fiber works by drawing fluids from the body and binding them to the bulk of forming stool, which contains toxins and waste that must be removed from the body.

Fiber also helps to balance pH levels and bacteria within the gut, increasing healthy bacteria while also decreasing unhealthy bacteria. An imbalance in gut flora bacteria is often linked to many different digestive problems.

The high amount of fiber in garbanzo beans is responsible for its filling effect and  helps to improve digestion, but it does much more than this. Fiber aids in heart health, helps to control blood sugar levels, guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity, and more.

Human Heart

4. Helps Protect Against Heart Disease and Cancer

Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension, and to protect against heart disease in multiple ways. This may be partially due to the high amount of fiber found in chickpeas, which helps people to avoid overeating and gaining harmful excess weight, especially around the vital organs (4).

Fiber works to create a gel-like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids, helping to balance cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber have been show to be important in helping to control and manage hypertension. (5)

Beans help to keep the arteries clear from plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. In fact studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and to help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Consuming beans has also been shown in studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fiber content (6). Garbanzo beans were demonstrated in studies to help stall cancerous cells from further forming (7).

Because beans keep the digestive system, including the colon, free from harmful bacteria and toxic build-up, they create a healthier overall environment where pH levelsare balanced, inflammation is reduced and therefore cancer cells cannot proliferate like they can in an unhealthy environment.

5. Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Chickpeas nutrition boasts high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins, all of which are especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these essential nutrients due to avoiding animal products. Chickpeas are great source of folate, also called Vitamin  B6. Folate is important for helping the body to effectively produce new cells as it plays a role in copying and synthesizing DNA.

It also helps the body utilize other B Vitamins in addition to protein (in the form of amino acids). A deficiency in folate can contribute to anemia, poor immune function, and poor digestion;  and for pregnant women, a deficiency can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Chickpeas nutrition also includes zinc. Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a role in over 100 important enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc facilitates in bodily functions including protecting against free radical damage (also called oxidative damage), helps speed up wound healing, plays a part in the copying of DNA, and helps with the formation of hemoglobin within the blood.

A deficiency can include frequently getting sick with colds, leaky gut syndrome, consistent digestive problems like diarrhea, poor eye health, infertility, thinning hair, and even stunted growth in children.

Legumes have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps to balance pH levels by combating the high level of acidity that is common in most modern, western diets. When chickpeas are combined with a source of healthy fat, like olive oil for example which is the case with hummus, nutrient absorption is further increased.

Additionally, chickpeas are a good source of 3 nutrients that help to reduce common symptoms associated with PMS: magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B6.

6. Great Source of Plant-Based Proteinscoop of chickpeas

Protein is an essential macro-nutrient that plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, from our vital organs, muscles, tissues and even hormone levels. Consuming enough healthy protein helps you to naturally slow aging.

Proteins that we acquire from our diet help to create hemoglobin and important antibodies, to control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help to heal wounds and injuries too.

Chickpeas nutrition not only contains important protein- about 15 grams per cup of cooked beans- but also has many other nutrients and fiber too. Those who are most as risk for not consuming enough protein are children, vegans and vegetarians.

Not eating adequate amounts of protein on a regular basis can result in muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems such as cataracts, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more. Because chickpeas are a completely plant-based source of vital protein, they are an excellent choice for non-meat eaters who need to be sure to consume enough of this macronutrient.

Chickpeas are often eaten with grains or vegetables, for example in stews or in hummus that is eaten with pita bread; these foods luckily work together to make up a “complete protein”. This means they contain all of the building-blocks of protein, called essential amino acids, that are necessary for the body to acquire from food in order to use for body function and energy.

The 7,500 Year History of Chickpeas!map of Greece and Turkey

Chickpeas are a legume of the plant familyFabaceae. Domesticated chickpeas have been found in regions of Turkey and Greece, with records dating back thousands of years to Ancient times. It’s believed that garbanzo beans were first consumed by Ancient Mediterranean populations between 7500-10,000 years ago, and then spread to southern France and Germany shortly after.

In classical Greece, the beans were often included in sweet desserts and were even consumed raw. Ancient Roman populations prepared the beans in broths, roasts, and stews or enjoyed them as snacks. It’s believed that centuries ago populations associated chickpeas with the philosophical god Venus because the beans were believed to offer powerful health benefits related to reproduction.

The use of chickpeas spread across the Middle East in the years to follow, becoming a staple in nearly every nation’s traditional diet, as it still is today. While chickpeas have been popular worldwide for centuries, they are only recently moving into the spotlight in North America, where the rise in popularity of Middle Eastern recipes like hummus and falafel have introduced many new people to how great chickpeas can taste.

Source: Dr. Axe