Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are commonly consumed in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes including hummus, curries and falafel. They can be purchased dried or canned and are most commonly tan colored, although in certain stores you may be able to find black chickpeas. They are a great addition to cold salads or can be ground up and used as flour.
Chickpeas are nutrient dense, providing high amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals including molybdenum, important for energy production in cells, development of the nervous system and processing waste in the kidneys. They are also a good source of folate, manganese, copper, phosphorus and iron. One cup of chickpeas provides almost 5 milligrams of iron, about 26 percent of the recommended daily value -- a great source for vegetarians.
One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 12 grams of dietary fiber -- roughly 50 percent of the daily value. A study published in "Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism" in 2006 looked at two different dietary intakes, chickpeas or wheat-supplemented diets, over a period of five weeks. At the end of the study, the chickpea-supplemented diet resulted in lower cholesterol levels compared to the wheat-supplemented diet. According to the American Heart Association, dietary fiber in addition to a healthy diet helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for heart disease.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Besides fiber, chickpeas are also high in protein with 1 cup providing roughly 15 grams. Both protein and fiber help to stabilize blood glucose levels and increase levels of satiety. A study published in 2004 in the "American Journal of Nutrition" indicated that a chickpea-based meal had lower blood glucose levels 30 and 60 minutes after eating compared to a wheat or white bread-based meal.
Chickpeas have been studied for their role in weight management due to their high satiety potential -- meaning they satisfy hunger cravings and leave individuals with a feeling of fullness. A study published in "Appetite" in 2010 showed increased satiation and overall decreased food intake with chickpea consumption, which may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: Dietary Supplementation With Chickpeas For At Least 5 Weeks Results In Small But Significant Reductions In Serum Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterols in Adult Women and Men
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- American Cancer Society: Molybdenum
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of Long-term Consumption and Single Meals of Chickpeas on Plasma Glucose, Insulin, and Triacylglycerol Concentrations.
- Appeitite: Chickpea Supplementation in an Australian Diet Affects Food Choice, Satiety and Bowel Health.
- The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods; Michael Murray, N.D.
Julie Usdavin has previously written nutrition articles for "Northwest Prime Time." She holds a Master of Science in nutrition from Bastyr University's Didactic Program in Dietetics.