9 Reasons To Include Chickpeas In Your Diet

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Lightly roasted for a quick snack, blitzed into a dip, or featured in your main course – chickpeas can fit in anywhere. And good thing, too, because they’re great for your health! This powerhouse of protein and fiber can not only help you lose weight but also defend you against cancer and heart disease. So for a healthy addition to your diet, check out the chickpea!

One cup of cooked chickpeas contains1

 

  • 164% DV molybdenum
  • 70.5% DV folate
  • 84% DV manganese
  • 29 % DV protein
  • 49 % DV fiber.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans – also known as “that thing in hummus” – originated in the Middle East. Popular for their weight loss properties, chickpeas travelled to the rest of the world to become a prominent part of our everyday diet. Whether it’s in a salad or a dip, the nutty flavor of chickpeas can be a treat. They’re not only tasty but also a reservoir of essential nutrients. Here are some reasons to eat chickpeas on a regular basis.

1. Aids Weight Loss

People who eat chickpeas are 53% less likely to be obese.

 

A small cup of chickpeas can load you with energy and keep you satiated for a long time. They have a low energy density, which means fewer calories. Chickpeas are also high in fiber and protein, so they’ll fill you up and keep you from overeating. In fact, a study found that individuals who consumed chickpea had a healthy weight and were 53% less likely to be obese.2 A good trick for weight loss is to replace your mayonnaise dip with hummus. It’s not only more delicious but also healthier!

2. Manages Type 2 Diabetes

The glycemic index of hummus is approximately half that of chickpeas, explaining why hummus may be more effective in lowering blood sugar levels than plain chickpeas.

 

If you’re suffering from type 2 diabetes, you might want to give chickpea a try! Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Since type 2 diabetes is dependent on lifestyle and diet, experts emphasize the importance of including pulses like chickpeas in the diet to manage the blood sugar levels. Known for their low glycemic index and hypoglycemic ability, chickpeas can provide steady energy while bringing down your blood sugar levels.3 4

3. Improves Digestion And Eases Constipation

The insoluble fiber in chickpeas reduces constipation and aids digestion.

 

Most of us face digestion-related issues on a regular basis. If you’ve been feeling sick and constipated of late, chickpeas might, quite literally, help you ease the tension! Chickpeas are high in insoluble fiber, which is essential for digestion and smooth passage of stool. While chickpeas can provide relief from constipation, ensure you don’t eat them in excess, as it could result in gas, bloating, and even diarrhea. Also, drink enough water to balance the high fiber diet.5

4. Keeps Your Heart Healthy

By reducing the bad cholesterol levels, chickpeas clear clogged arteries and improve heart health.

 

If you have a high cholesterol level, you could be at an increased risk of heart disease. Research indicates that a diet rich in pulses like chickpeas can lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” without affecting the levels of HDL or “good cholesterol.” By removing cholesterol buildup and clearing clogged arteries, the soluble fiber in chickpeas can lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.6

5. Aids Iron Absorption And Prevents Anemia

Chickpeas are rich in molybdenum, which helps your body with iron metabolism.

 

A medical condition in which your RBC or hemoglobin count is less than normal, anemia affects over 24% of the population – both men and women. The most common cause of anemia is iron-deficiency. A bowl of cooked chickpeas meets 29% of your daily iron requirement, thus preventing anemia. Also, chickpeas are rich in molybdenum (164% DV), an element that’s required for iron metabolism. An important catalyst for an enzyme reaction, molybdenum facilitates the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body.7 8

6. Improves Bone Health

The manganese and protein in chickpeas can keep your bones healthy and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

 

To reduce your risk of osteoporosis and keep your bones strong, eat a bowl of chickpeas every day. Chickpeas are rich in protein and manganese, both of which promote bone health and reduce your risk of fractures. Research indicates that a high-protein diet is associated with lesser incidences of osteoporosis and bone fractures.9 10

7. Reduces Menstrual Cramps

The fiber and vitamin B6 present in chickpeas can help ease cramps.

 

While period cramps and PMS are a part and parcel of menstruation, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort. One of them is to eat foods that reduce the activity of prostaglandins, the inflammatory substances responsible for the pain. Chickpeas are high in fiber and vitamin B6, both of which can reduce menstrual cramps and help deal with PMS.11

8. Helps Cope With Menopause

The phytoestrogens present in chickpeas reduce hot flushes and anxiety.

 

If you’re hitting menopause, you could be feeling tired, anxious, and irritable for no apparent reason. The lack of estrogen can cause several physiological and psychological changes in your body and even put you at an increased risk of certain diseases. Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is usually recommended for treating menopausal symptoms in women. But what if you’re not comfortable with this artificial hormonal therapy? Chickpeas to the rescue again! Chickpeas contain isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens that mimic the properties of estrogen and reduce menopause-related discomfort.12

9. Fights Cancer

Chickpeas can reduce your risk of colorectal and ovarian cancer.

 

With research stating that about 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, it’s important that you take measures to reduce your risk. Chickpeas are believed to fight cancer, especially that of the colon. When you eat chickpeas, a salt called butyrate is produced in your body. And butyrate, according to some studies, can stop the multiplication of cancer cells and kill them. Chickpeas also contain compounds like lycopene, Biochanin A, and saponin, which are believed to have anti-cancer properties. Furthermore, the isoflavones present in chickpeas are also believed to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.13 14 15

How Much To Eat And How To Eat?

Eat 1.5 – 2 cups of chickpeas or hummus every week, which translates to 1/4th a cup every day. For added benefits, pair them with a complementary protein, such as brown rice or whole-wheat crackers.

 

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, beans and peas should be an essential part of your diet. So, if your protein intake is high (say, if you’re a non-vegetarian), chickpeas can fall under your daily recommendation for vegetables. On the other hand, if you are a vegetarian and on top of your recommended vegetable intake that particular day, have them to meet your required protein needs. Either way, chickpeas and other legumes should figure prominently in your diet.

So how much do you get in? Because of their high nutritional content, beans and peas are recommended for everyone. The USDA suggests an average of 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein daily for an adult – about one-quarter of a cup of cooked chickpeas is equal to an ounce, so you can have at least 1.5–2 cups a week even when chickpeas aren’t your main source of protein. Under the vegetable group too, about 1.5–2 cups of beans and peas per week is recommended as part of a balanced diet comprising different vegetables.

Canned chickpeas, the most popular type of chickpeas available in the market, are ready-to-eat. If you prefer dry chickpeas, you need to soak them in water overnight and use them the next day. If you’re frying chickpeas, double their nutritional quotient by using olive oil. From hummus to roasted and spiced chickpeas, there are several ways to eat them. You could pair them with brown rice or add them to your favorite salad. You could also use hummus as a side to whole-grain pita bread or make chickpea casserole!

References   [ + ]

1. Chickpeas – Really? Pennsylvania State University.
2, 6, 14. Wallace, Taylor C., Robert Murray, and Kathleen M. Zelman. “The nutritional value and health benefits of chickpeas and hummus.” Nutrients 8, no. 12 (2016): 766.
3. Diabetes and Pulses: A Current Review. Food and Nutrition. North Dakota State University.
4. Trinidad, Trinidad P., Aida C. Mallillin, Anacleta S. Loyola, Rosario S. Sagum, and Rosario R. Encabo. “The potential health benefits of legumes as a good source of dietary fibre.” British Journal of Nutrition 103, no. 4 (2010): 569-574.
5. Pulses: The Perfect Food, Healthy to Eat, Healthy to Grow; Peas-Lentils-Chickpeas. North Dakota State University.
7. Global anaemia prevalence and number of individuals affected. World Health Organization.
8. Molybdenum. University of Michigan.
9. Bonjour, Jean-Philippe. “Protein intake and bone health.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 81, no. 2 (2011): 134.
10. Manganese. University of Maryland Medical Center.
11. Foods that minimize menstrual cramps? Columbia University.
12. Chen, M. N., C. C. Lin, and C. F. Liu. “Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review.” Climacteric 18, no. 2 (2015): 260-269.
13. Cancer Statistics. National Cancer Institute.
15. Bandera, Elisa V., Lisa E. Paddock, Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Melony King, Sara H. Olson, and Urmila Chandran. “Phytoestrogen consumption from foods and supplements and epithelial ovarian cancer risk: a population-based case control study.” BMC women’s health 11, no. 1 (2011): 40.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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