Benefits of Chickpeas To Help Fuel Your Busy Life
Here is a riddle for you:
What has two names and can be found in the bulk section, in the canned goods, or in the refrigerator aisle of your grocery store?
Based on the title of this article, I’m sure you guessed it: chickpeas!
Chickpeas may just be the ultimate pantry ingredient. There are many benefits of chickpeas from both a health and convenience standpoint. And if they aren’t already part of your diet, then these benefits of chickpeas will convince you to add them.
Affordability, versatility, and healthiness are just a few of the benefits of chickpeas. If you have a can of chickpeas in your pantry, you’re always just a few minutes away from a filling meal.
Circling back to my riddle. The two names are chickpeas and garbanzos (more on that below). You can find dried chickpeas in the bulk section, canned chickpeas, and hummus (mashed chickpeas) in the refrigerator aisle.
What Are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are in the legume plant family. They are the seed (or “pulse”) of the legume plant that produces them. They have been around for hundreds of thousands of years with the earliest human recordings dating to over 9,000 years ago in France.
Another fun fact?
Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing.
The term “garbanzo” comes from the Spanish word for the same bean. The term dates back to the 1750s in the Basque region of northern Spain. It stuck with the cuisine coming out of that region and is still used today in some parts of the world.
So don’t fret over which can you grab – chickpea versus garbanzo beans – at the grocery store.
Benefits of Chickpeas
High in Nutrients
According to the USDA, 0.5 cup (125 grams) of canned chickpeas (about 3.5 servings per can) has the following nutritional values:
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 2 grams
- Protein: 10 grams
- Carbohydrates: 26 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Sugar: 1 grams
So, chickpeas are primarily carbs with healthy doses of protein and fiber. Perfect for using as the base of a healthy meal.
Great Source of Plant-Based Protein
There is a reason why plant-based diets are so heavy on the chickpeas. It’s because they are rich in protein. Making them one of the best sources for protein in vegan and vegetarian diets.
A 1/2 cup of chickpeas contains about 10 grams of protein according to the USDA. That is right up there with other popular plant-based proteins like black beans and lentils.
What’s good about protein? First off, it makes you feel full which helps with managing your weight. It also promotes muscle development and bone health.
But, there is more about the protein and chickpeas. Chickpeas contain almost all essential amino acids – this differs than many other plant proteins. These amino acids are needed by the cells in your body to turn the protein in foods into protein your body can use.
May Boost Digestive Health
Chickpeas are high in dietary fiber. And fiber is a key nutrient that aids in regularity and digestion. Studies have shown chickpeas contribute to both of these.
Fiber boosts digestive health by helping to quickly move food through the digestive tract. In addition, it helps increase good gut bacteria while decreasing bad gut bacteria.
May Help You Control Your Appetite
So, you just learned that chickpeas are high in protein and fiber. These are great for the reasons above. Another reason why protein and fiber are great is because they both contribute to fullness.
I like to call protein and fiber the Satiety Saints. Feeling more full means eating less food which means losing or controlling your weight. That’s good stuff.
May Protect Against Heart Disease
Another benefit of chickpeas is that they have a bunch of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help protect your heart. Potassium, fiber, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and selenium all help your heart.
In addition, chickpeas do not contain any cholesterol. The fiber in them even help to lower your cholesterol.
Helps Keep Blood Sugar Under Control
Chickpeas are a great source for carbohydrates. They are low on the glycemic index. Meaning that they help keep your blood sugar from spiking after eating.
It takes time for your body to absorb and digest chickpeas. This helps defend against post meal fatigue, weight gain, and diabetes. Much different from eating a slice of pizza or bowl of pasta made using refined carbs.
In addition, the winning combo of protein and fiber in chickpeas also helps regulate blood sugar.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Did you know that over 500,000 people die of cancer each year in the U.S. alone? Well, chickpeas may help lower that number. There are several nutrients and compounds in chickpeas that help protect against certain types of cancer.
B vitamins help protect against breast and lung cancer. Saponins have an anti-tumor affect that inhibits tumor growth. This helps protect against multiple types of cancer. Additionally, fiber and butyrate in chickpeas help protect against colorectal cancer.
They’re Affordable and Keep Well
Double whammy. You already learned that chickpeas are filling. But, they’re also super affordable and keep well in your pantry.
When buying chickpeas, you have two options: canned or dried.
The convenience of canned chickpeas is hard to beat. You’re just minutes away from a filling meal anytime you have a can in your cupboard. And they’re super cheap.
Want an even cheaper and more economical option? Well, the affordability of dried chickpeas is unmatchable. It’s typically only $1.50 to $2 for a pound of dried chickpeas at my grocery store. This is about the same amount as 4 cans after cooking them.
Before I forget, here is how to cook dried beans.
May Protect Against Diabetes
Here we go again with the fiber and protein. These two help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating, which is important in managing diabetes. The low glycemic index (GI) of chickpeas that we talked about earlier also helps control blood sugar levels.
In addition, zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins in chickpeas have all been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
May Help Strengthen Bones
Chickpeas are rich in calcium. Which we know is important for strong bones (remember “got milk?).
Magnesium and iron are also important minerals for maintaining strong bones. And chickpeas are packed with them. So, “got chickpeas?”.
May Help Lower Cholesterol
Dietary fiber is known to decrease cholesterol levels. And chickpeas are loaded with it.
According to this 2006 study, participants who added chickpeas to their diet for at least 5 weeks experienced a small reduction in low-density lipoprotein (or “LDL”) – the “bad” cholesterol.
Potential Downsides of Chickpeas
As you learned, chickpeas are super healthy. They play a huge role in plant based and vegetable rich diets because of their protein content. But, there are two known potential downsides of chickpeas.
First, chickpeas and all legumes have natural compounds called saponins. This compound is what causes the foaming in a can of chickpeas. Saponins haven’t been shown to cause any issues in humans, but they are toxic to fish and other cold-blooded animals. They have also been shown to cause upset stomach and diarrhea in some other animals.
Second is that canned chickpeas may come in a BPA lined canned. BPA is linked to a range of possible health effects. But, you can take steps to mitigate this risk.
Look for cans with a non-BPA lining which will obviously eliminate this risk. In any case, rinse canned chickpeas under running water before consuming. This will help rinse off any residue.
- Baked Falafel (With Canned Chickpeas)
- Chickpea, Kale, and Avocado Salad
- Easy Shakshuka With Chickpeas
- Sauteed Chickpeas With Herbs, Garlic, and Yogurt
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Easy Homemade Hummus
- Chickpea 101: Everything You Need to Know About Chickpeas
Ready to Take Get the Benefits of Chickpeas?
One of my favorite benefits of chickpeas is their versatility. Make them crispy, tender, or creamy. In any case, you’ll produce something nutritious and filling.
Chickpeas can play a huge role in your healthy diet. In fact, I recommend getting at least a can or two (or a pound of dried beans) every time you visit the grocery store.
Speaking of recommendations for cooking and eating healthier, I have a ton of them to share with you. You can get them and more in my Free Healthy Cooking Bootcamp email series. If you want to start eating healthier, but you’re not sure where to start. Or you just want a refresher, sign up for the free bootcamp below!