Chickpeas and Health

Chickpeas
Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, come in two varieties.  The Kabuli-type is large, round and light-colored;  The Desi-type is small, dark, and irregularly shaped.  Chickpeas have high nutritional value and are rich in carbohydrate, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals (phosphorus, iron).  They are a nutritional staple of many diets.

 

Reasons to Eat Chickpeas

Chickpeas, and all pulses contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may help prevent the development of various chronic diseases.

1. Diabetes

Both dried and canned chickpeas have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load.  They also contain amylose, a resistant starch that digests slowly.  These factors help to prevent sudden surges in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can improve overall blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.

2. Gut Flora

Chickpeas contain a soluble fiber called raffinose that is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria.  As bacteria break down this fiber, butyrate is produced.  Butyrate plays a role in reducing inflammation in the cell wall of the colon, promoting regularity in the intestines, and possibly preventing colorectal cancer.

3. Heart Disease

Chickpeas contain a plant sterol called sitosterol that is structurally similar to cholesterol in the body.  It interferes with the body’s absorption of cholesterol and thereby can help lower blood cholesterol levels.  The fiber and unsaturated fats in chickpeas may also favorably affect blood lipid levels.

4. Obesity

High fiber foods can help to promote a feeling of fullness and satiety by delaying digestion and adding bulk to meals.  The satiating effect of the fiber along with the protein content of chickpeas may help in weight management.

Ways to Enjoy Chickpeas

  • Salads: Top green salads with chickpeas to add protein and texture.  Also use in bean salads.
  • Pasta: Add chickpeas to your signature pasta dishes.
  • Soups and stews:  Add chickpeas to stews and soups.
  • Roast:  Season and roast chickpeas for a tasty snack.
  • Hummus: Blend chickpeas with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a hummus spread.
  • Bake:  Mash chickpeas and use in baking as a replacement for flour.
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