Chickpeas Are Good For You!
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world. In fact, they have been a part of certain traditional diets for over 7,500 years, and it’s not hard to see why when you take into account the benefits of chickpeas nutrition.
First and foremost, what are chickpeas? Chickpeas are a type of legume that offer a range of health benefits. Legumes are a member of the pea family and technically a seed pod. Other common edible legumes include lentils, peas, a variety of beans, soybeans and peanuts.
Why are chickpeas good for you? They help increase satiety, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against metabolic syndrome and heart 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, including the Ayurvedic diet and the Mediterranean diet. They are included in popular recipes found around the world, including being used as the main ingredient in hummus, which is commonly consumed almost every single day in places like Israel, Syria, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt.
8 Benefits of Chickpeas Nutrition
What are the health benefits of chickpeas? With so many vitamins and nutrients, chickpeas benefit the body in a number of different ways. Here are the top eight benefits of chickpeas:
1. Provides Slow-Releasing Carbohydrates
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).
Even very low-carb diets require you to get at least 25 grams of carbs per day, and a small serving of chickpeas can help to provide some of these carbohydrates.
2. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
Are chickpeas good for a low-carb diet? In most cases, yes, because they are considered a “slow carb.” Chickpeas nutrition includes starch, which is a slow-burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood. Unlike simple sugars — found in processed products like refined flour, white bread, pasta, soda, candy and most other packaged foods — the starches found in chickpeas take an extended period of time to break down once consumed.
Are chickpeas good for diabetics? Yes, they are a safe source of carbs even for people who benefit from a lower-carb diet. Starches contain natural sugars called glucose, which the body uses easily for many essential functions, but glucose can be troublesome for people who are prediabetic 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.
3. Increases Satiety and Helps with Weight Loss
Chickpeas are high in both protein and fiber, which helps make you feel full, curb food cravings and hopefully reduce unhealthy snacking. Studies have shown that consuming fiber is correlated with having a lower body weight. Beans make a filling addition to any recipe because of their fiber, complex carbs and protein.
Chickpeas nutrition has macronutrients that work together to give us a feeling of being full after eating, while also helping 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 loss. The 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.
4. Improves Digestion Thanks to a High Fiber Content
Chickpeas are among the top high-fiber foods with roughly six to seven grams per half cup serving. Unfortunately, the modern western diet that many Americans consume leaves them deficient in dietary fiber.
A major benefit of chickpeas nutrition is helping reduce constipation. Fiber facilitates in healthy digestion by quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, helping 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 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 improve digestion, but it does much more than this. Fiber aids in heart health, helps control blood sugar levels, and guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity and more.
5. Helps Protect Against Heart Disease and Cancer
Cardiologists’ favorite benefit of chickpeas nutrition is that it supports heart health in a number of ways. Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, reduce hypertension and protect against heart disease in multiple ways.
This may be partially due to the high amount of fiber found in chickpeas nutrition, which helps people avoid overeating and gaining harmful excess weight, especially around the vital organs. Fiber works to create a gel-like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids, helping balance cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber have been show to be important in helping control and manage hypertension.
Beans help keep the arteries clear from plaque buildup, 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 decrease chances of a heart attack and help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Consuming beans has also been shown in animal studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fiber content. Garbanzo beans were demonstrated in research on mice to help stall cancerous cells from further forming. Because beans keep the digestive system, including the colon, free from harmful bacteria and toxic buildup, they create a healthier overall environment where pH levels are balanced, inflammation is reduced and therefore cancer cells cannot proliferate like they can in an unhealthy environment.
6. Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals (Including Folate and Zinc)
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 also a great source of folate. Folate is important for helping the body 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.
7. Has An Alkalizing Effect
Legumes have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps 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 — which is the case with hummus — nutrient absorption is further increased. Additionally, chickpeas are a good source of three nutrients that help to reduce common symptoms associated with PMS: magnesium, manganese and vitamin B6.
8. Great Source of Plant-Based Protein
Are chickpeas a good source of protein? Yes, especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, including 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 diets help create hemoglobin and important antibodies, control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help 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 like 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.
By Jillian Levy, CHHC
Chickpea Zucchini Falafel Recipe-serves 2
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 cup gluten-free crackers
1 zucchini, chopped
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon himalayan salt
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup yogurt or kefir
8 leaves of lettuce
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1. Blend chickpeas, crackers, zucchini, onion, egg and sea salt in blender or food processor.
2. Heat coconut oil in pan over medium heat. Form into patties and cook until golden brown. 2-4 minutes on each side.
3. Top with yogurt and mint on bed of lettuce.
This zucchini falafel recipe is not only delicious, but it’s packed full of vitamin C and healthy fiber! It’s easy to make and gluten free. Try this as a snack, side or meal!