Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas pack key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help support overall health.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a member of the pulse family. Pulses, including beans, lentils, and dry peas, are the dried edible seeds of legume plants. Often, chickpea nutrition includes high fiber, protein, and healthy fat contents.

Chickpeas are one of the most widely consumed pulses in the world. Chickpea plants can grow to about two feet tall, with small, feathery leaves and white or reddish blue flowers. One pod contains one to three small peas.

Some possible benefits of chickpeas include helping control blood sugar, manage weight, and support heart and gut health. Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free and not a common allergen, so they do not carry many risks. Still, slowly adding high-fiber foods like chickpeas to your diet is key to avoiding bloating and other gastrointestinal (GI) upset.

Are Chickpeas Healthy? Why This Nutritionist Calls Them 'Nutrient Powerhouses'
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Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and have a low glycemic index (GI). As a result, chickpeas help manage cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure; maintain healthy body weight; and support gut health.

Help Manage Blood Sugar

In a review published in 2018, researchers found that pulses, including chickpeas, might help manage blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to take in and store glucose (sugar). People with insulin resistance do not respond to insulin as they should. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood. High blood sugar is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Chickpeas have a low GI. In other words, chickpeas reduce insulin resistance and do not cause a significant spike in blood sugar. As a low-GI food, chickpeas can help manage blood sugar in people with diabetes. Untreated, high blood sugar can cause health complications like vision problems and kidney disease.

Might Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

Chickpeas may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD—including coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, and heart failure—is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

According to a review published in 2020, chickpeas help control cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Those characteristics are risk factors for CVD. 

Generally, pulses are a source of healthy fats and chemicals like flavonoids and phenolic acids. Some evidence suggests that those chemicals have anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of CVD.

Help Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Chickpeas have high fiber, protein, and healthy fat, which may help manage weight. For example, fiber adds bulk to your meals and satiates your appetite quickly. Chickpeas take longer to chew and move through the digestive system than low-fiber foods, which keeps you full for a long time.

In a review published in 2019, researchers noted that chickpeas help treat obesity by reducing fat accumulation. People with obesity have a high risk of health complications like CVD, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

May Support Gut Health

As a high-fiber food, chickpeas also help support gut health. Fiber keeps bowel movements regular and helps alleviate constipation.

According to a review published in 2022, chickpeas help balance "good" and "bad" microorganisms in the gut microbiome. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms flare when something disturbs that balance. In contrast, chickpeas may help alleviate IBD symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Are Environmentally Friendly

Pulses, including chickpeas, are environmentally friendly. Pulses use less water than other proteins, making them drought-friendly. Moreover, pulses enrich the soil where they grow, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. What's more, chickpeas are readily available and affordable.

Nutrition of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are nutrient powerhouses. A one-cup serving of cooked chickpeas provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 269
  • Fat: 4.25g
  • Sodium: 399mg
  • Carbohydrates: 44.9g
  • Fiber: 12.5g
  • Added sugars: 7.87g
  • Protein: 14.5g

Chickpeas pack key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, a one-cup-cooked portion of chickpeas supplies a significant amount of the daily value of manganese. The body needs manganese to make energy, protect cells, build and maintain strong bones, and support the immune system.

The same serving also packs several other nutrients, including:

  • Folate, which assists in making DNA
  • Iron, which helps carry oxygen to different body parts
  • Magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve function
  • Potassium, which controls blood pressure and kidney, heart, muscle, and nerve function
  • Zinc, which supports the immune system

Pulses, including chickpeas, are also full of antioxidants linked to protection against CVD, certain cancers, and neurological diseases.

Risks of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free and are not a common trigger of allergies or intolerances. 

Gas and bloating are the most common side effects of chickpeas. Upping your fiber intake too quickly can result in gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Instead, slowly add fiber to your diet.

Soak dry chickpeas overnight to leach out natural compounds in pulses that trigger gas. Rinse canned chickpeas thoroughly after draining them can to help curb bloating.

Tips for Consuming Chickpeas

There are several dozen distinct varieties, including the European pale yellow type popular in the United States and black, dark brown, and reddish chickpeas. You can find chickpeas in the same aisle as canned and dried bagged beans in the grocery store.

Chickpeas are versatile ingredients that you can incorporate into different meals and snacks. 

  • Breakfast: Try blending chickpeas into smoothies. Or slightly mash chickpeas to make vegetable or herb scrambles. 
  • Lunch: Oven-roast chickpeas to top a garden salad. Or you can snack on oven-roasted chickpeas throughout the day, as well.
  • Dinner: Chickpeas provide a plant-based protein in everything from soups and bowls to stir-fries, curries, casseroles, tacos, chilled salads (instead of chicken or tuna), falafel, or vegetable burgers.
  • Dessert: You can transform chickpeas into cookie dough, blondies, brownies, dark chocolate truffles and bark, fudge, pudding, dessert hummus, and more.

You can use aquafaba—the liquid in canned chickpeas or the water used to cook dried chickpeas—as a vegan alternative to dairy and eggs. Try using aquafaba to make meringue, mayonnaise, vegan ice cream, or chocolate mousse. 

A wide variety of chickpea products are on the market, including chickpea protein powder, flour, butter and spreads, pasta, puffed snacks, granola, and cereal.

A Quick Review

Chickpeas are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and have a low GI. Potential benefits of chickpeas include helping control blood sugar, manage weight, and support heart and gut health. Chickpeas are versatile, so you can add them to many savory or sweet meals and snacks. 

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