Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, belong to the legume family, which includes a variety of beans, peanuts, soybeans and lentils. Opting for legumes over foods high in saturated fat might lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Chickpeas also offer specific health benefits, and consuming them regularly boosts your intake of a few key nutrients.
Eating chickpeas provides you with a vegetarian-friendly source of protein, with each cup of cooked garbanzo beans containing 15 grams. Your body breaks down this protein into amino acids, and then uses them to maintain the health of your body’s tissues. Chickpeas are a source of incomplete protein, which means they do not contain every amino acid you need for good health. Make sure you combine them with other sources of protein, such as nuts, whole grains, dairy, eggs or meat to prevent an amino acid deficiency.
Opt for chickpeas as a rich source of dietary fiber. Foods rich in fiber help keep your colon healthy — fiber helps soften stool to fight constipation, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Fiber-rich foods also help control your blood sugar levels, because fiber slows down digestion, allowing sugar to move slowly from your digestive tract into your bloodstream. As a result, you’re less likely to develop a blood sugar spike after eating, and won’t experience the fatigue and irritation from a subsequent blood sugar crash. A cup of cooked chickpeas provides 12.5 grams of fiber — half of the daily fiber intake recommendation for women or one-third of of the daily fiber recommendation for men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Manganese and Folate
Garbanzo beans also contain vitamins and minerals and significantly boost your intake of manganese and folate. The mineral manganese helps support bone development and wound healing and also helps carry out chemical reactions important to your metabolism. A 1-cup serving of chickpeas contains 1.7 milligrams of manganese, approximately 94 percent of the daily recommended intake for women, or 74 percent of the RDA for men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Folate, or vitamin B-9, aids in new cell growth and brain cell communication and protects against genetic mutations that contribute to cancer development. Eating a cup of chickpeas provides you with 282 micrograms of folate, or 71 percent of your daily folate requirements, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Eating More Chickpeas
Chickpeas add flavor and texture to a range of dishes. Sprinkle a handful of chickpeas on a salad, or add whole or pureed chickpeas to soup. Combine chickpeas with olive oil, lime juice, shallots and cilantro for a convenient and filling salad, or use mashed chickpeas in place of mayonnaise in your sandwiches. Incorporate more chickpeas into your diet by experimenting with Indian cooking — many popular Indian dishes, such as chana masala, feature garbanzo beans as a main ingredient.
Just 2 cups of chickpeas contain your entire daily value of dietary fiber. Better yet, they pack both soluble and insoluble fiber, the latter of which helps lower LDL cholesterol. One study even found that the chickpeas lowered cholesterol levels even more than other foods with comparable levels of fiber.
Promotes Weight Loss
Anyone who has gone on a diet knows that hunger pangs can weaken even the strongest willpower. The challenge is to lower your caloric intake without walking around with stomach always on your mind. Enter chickpeas. 1 cup contains just 269 calories, but half your daily value of fiber and 30% of your protein, both of which monitor the insulin that causes your body to store fat. So eat a cup of chickpeas for lunch and you will feel full until dinner. That’s why one study found that participants who snacked on chickpeas reported greater levels of satisfaction and ate less snack food in-between meals.
Chickpeas are common in many warm and sunny climates, which is good news for those who eat them. That’s because they act like a natural sunblock, with high levels of a nutrient called manganese. Just one cup of cooked chickpeas contain 85% of your daily value of the mineral, which functions as an antioxidant in skin cells. It also protects against damage from UV light, which decreases rashes.
Folk wisdom suggests you reach for the vitamin C when you feel a cold coming on. Researchers are much more skeptical about the efficacy of fighting the common cold. They, however, almost unanimously endorse zinc. Zinc inhibits replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs responsible for cold. Chickpeas contain up to 23% of your daily zinc, as well as 64% of your daily copper requirements.
Fiber helps keep your digestive system working. It is the part of plants that doesn’t dissolve. That’s why doctors suggest 40% of your diet come from fiber-rich foods, which definitely includes chickpeas.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Unfortunately, more and more people struggle with type 2 diabetes. If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to regulate blood sugar, incorporate legumes like chickpeas into your diet. Doctors recommend starchy legumes and vegetables for their phytochemicals and fiber. Chickpeas digest slowly without spiking blood sugar and lower hemoglobin A1C levels.
1 cup of garbanzos contains 64% of your daily copper and 26% of your daily iron. These two minerals work together as a super team to keep you energized. Iron needs copper to blend with red blood cells and stave off anemia. Meanwhile, copper transfers energy from cars to cells and keeps you feeling full for longer.
“You can’t get enough protein on a vegetarian diet!” This fiction doesn’t hold ground, as many vegetarian athletes and bodybuilders know. Proteins are made from 20 different amino acids, and its true that not all of them are found in plants. These amino acids provide the building blocks in muscle that allow for contraction. And when your muscle contracts, it grows. 1 cup of chickpeas contains 1/3 of your recommended protein value. So combine them with protein found in nuts, veggies, fish, or animal sources to round out your protein and get strong!
Nervous System Health
The protein in chickpeas also helps with nervous system health. Protein amino acids affect neurotransmitters in the brain and help them function properly.
Important Antioxidant Effects
Chickpeas are an important source of selenium, a mineral that supports liver enzyme function and detoxifies cancer-causing compounds from the body. Chickpeas are also a source of folate, which helps in formation of cancer preventing cells in the body.