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
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).
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 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.
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.
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 levels are 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 Protein
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!
Chickpeas are a legume of the plant family Fabaceae. 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. People across the US now commonly consume chickpeas due to their many culinary uses and noted health benefits.
Chickpeas grow on trees and are a type of pulse, with means they come from a seedpod that contains two or three peas, similarly to how green peas looked before being de-shelled. There are actually three main kinds of chickpeas, or garbanzo beans.
Desi chickpeas, which are mostly cultivated in India and have small, darker seeds and a rough coat; Bombday chickpeas, which are also normally harvested in India but have a larger size; and Kabuli chickpeas, which come from Europe or Africa and have a large size and smooth coat. All three types offer the same health benefits and can be used interchangeably.
Chickpeas can be found in dried, precooked/canned, or precooked/frozen varieties. Many people feel that beans made from scratch- meaning from dried form- taste the best and hold their texture more so than precooked kinds.
Canned, precooked beans are a great option when you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch, although many brands of canned beans use the chemical BPA in the lining of their cans, which is a toxin you will want to avoid leaching into your food.
Look for organic varieties of canned beans that are certified “BPA free” in order to avoid this chemical winding up in your beans. The good news is that precooked beans, either in canned or frozen form, often have the same nutrient levels as freshly made beans, so as long as you buy a high-quality kind, you can conveniently enjoy beans even when you’re in a pinch.
Make sure to rinse canned beans to reduce the sodium content and to freshen up the taste. You can also try simmering canned and rinsed beans in some vegetable stock to further plump them up and enhance their flavor.
Look for dried chickpeas in the “bulk bin” section of your favorite health food store, where you will likely be able to find organic dried beans for sale at a very low cost. Dried beans remain fresh for a long time, so you don’t need to worry about buying too much and having them spoil.
It’s best to soak all dried beans overnight prior to cooking them, which helps to make them more digestible, to aid in absorbing their nutrients, and to decrease cooking time. Keep some dried beans in your kitchen for whenever you have some extra time to cook.
There is some concern about the phytates and tannins that are naturally occurring in garbanzo beans, and all beans and legumes too.
These compounds are often called “nutrient blockers” since they can lower nutrient availability in some cases. Soaking and sprouting black bean helps to eliminate phytic acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption in addition to making the beans more digestible and less gas-forming.
It’s believed that one of the reasons phytic acid has become a health concern today is because we no longer practice food preparation techniques such as sprouting or sourdough fermentation, which kills off a high amount of phytic acid, therefore people are consuming much more of it than ever before.
A diet high in phytic acid can potentially create mineral deficiencies and even lead to leaky gut syndrome, tooth decay, bone loss, osteoporosis and more.
Many of the vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in beans are actually bound to phytic acid so it is difficult to absorb them. Phytic acid not only decreases the available minerals in your food, but can also leach minerals from your bones and teeth where they are stored.
In order to avoid consuming too high of levels of phytic acid, its best to buy organic beans that are also labeled GMO free, since phytic acid is much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost. Also try soaking and sprouting your beans (and grains too) since this can help to reduce phytic acid by around 50 – 100%.
If you can remember, pre-soak beans the night before and then you can cook them with minimal effort and in shorter time. Cook dried beans by combining about 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of dried beans, allowing them to boil for about 1.5-2 hours over low heat. Once the beans are soft, they are ready to eat. You can make them in large batches and easily freeze them, so you always have some available.
Chickpeas must be mature and cooked before being consumed. 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, and Turkey, Palestine and Jordan, and Egypt.
Chickpeas are commonly added to Indian curries; consumed frequently in Portugal as part of Rancho, a meat, bean and pasta dish; enjoyed across Italy and France in stews, pastas, and served with seafood; ground into chickpea flour which is used to make bread and pitas across the Middle East; added to desserts and sweets in the Philippines; and popularly added to salads and soups in North America and Europe.
There is almost no part of the world where chickpeas aren’t enjoyed- and it’s not wonder considering their versatility, palatable taste, and numerous nutrient benefits.
Try using chickpeas (called garbanzo beans in some recipes) in these creative ways:
- Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes (try using chickpea flour)
- Add chickpeas to this Bean and Quinoa Salad
- Try using chickpeas in this Spicy Bean Dip
- 1 can of Chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup Mary’s Gone Crackers
- 1 Zucchini, chopped
- 1 sm. Red Onion
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp. Sea Salt
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup Goat’s Milk Yogurt or kefir
- 8 leaves of Lettuce
- 1 cup fresh Mint Leaves
- Blend Chickpeas, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Zucchini, Onion, Egg and Sea Salt in blender or food processor.
- Heat coconut Oil in pan over medium heat. Form into patties and cook until golden brown . 2-4 minutes on each side.
- Top with yogurt and mint on bed of lettuce.
Photo: Zucchini Falafel Recipe / Dr. Axe
- 2 cans garbanzo beans
- 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tsp cumin
- Sea salt to taste
1. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans, reserving 1/4 c. liquid. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend. Add more water or olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
Photo: Hummus Recipe / Dr. Axe
Chickpeas Side Effects
Some people experience digestive discomfort when eating beans, due to their high fiber and starch content. If this happens to you, try preparing beans from scratch (dried form) and soaking them overnight first. This helps to cut down on certain compounds that can cause digestive problems including gas and bloating.
If you aren’t accustomed to eating high amounts of fiber, gradually introduce more into your diet instead of consuming a large amount of fiber-rich beans all at once. This will help ease digestion and avoid unwanted symptoms.