I just wanted to formally declare my love for chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans. There’s something about their texture, their shape, their chameleon-like ability to fit perfectly into so many different dishes and flavors… and then, of course, there’s their status as nutritional superstar! Let me tell you a little bit about the health benefits of chickpeas, and maybe you’ll find yourself in love with them, too. Or maybe you already are, and this will justify your hummus cravings.
Chickpeas are rich in several minerals, with various functions to help support our bodies’ health:
- magnesium (20% DV): plays key roles in bone density, supports energy production in our cells, supports active brain cell receptors which reduces risk of depression, helps control inflammation and blood sugar balance
- manganese (85% DV): crucial to proper bone development, supports collagen production for healthy skin, plays a role in blood sugar balance, antioxidant
- folate (71% DV): plays key roles in the function of your nervous system (and the development of a baby’s nervous system when in the mother’s womb), supports cardiovascular health, red blood cell production (which carry oxygen to our body and brain)
- iron (26% DV): supports energy production and oxygen transport
- zinc (23% DV): crucial to immune system function, helps maintain healthy skin and male reproductive health
- molybdenum (273% DV): hasn’t been studied inn too much depth, but suspected to support liver detoxification and nervous system metabolism
- phosphorous (39% DV): along with fats, it makes up the cell membrane of every cell in our bodies, and is a critical part of our bone structure
- copper (64% DV): needed for collagen production, helps get iron into red blood cells
Complex Carbs & Blood Sugar Regulation
Chickpeas are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which give us balanced and sustained energy because they’re released more slowly than sugars and simple carbohydrates. Not to mention, the protein and fiber content also help put that energy on slow-release. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – like the ones in chickpeas – can also help regulate blood sugar balance.
Protein – for more than muscles
Chickpeas are a great plant protein source (14.53 g per cup), which helps not only with muscle mass, but also digestion, hormones, neurotransmitters, genes, blood pressure, energy, and detoxification.
Antioxidants & Cardiovascular Health
Chickpeas have antioxidant vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene as well as flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin and phenolic acids ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid. There’s also 85% of your daily recommended intake of the antioxidant mineral manganese in one cup. Chickpeas are increasingly found to be one of the key legumes in studies showing a reduced risk of heart disease; specifically that they can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in as little as one month. They have a powerful combo of heart-healthy soluble fiber, omega-3, and a unique combination of antioxidants that keep our blood vessel walls healthy.
Fiber & Digestion
Chickpeas have about half of your daily recommendation for fiber in just one cup. What’s more, the specific type of fiber in chickpeas results in better blood fat regulation, lower levels of LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin secretion, and are metabolized by bacteria in the colon to produce compounds that act as fuel to the cells that line your intestinal wall, which may lower the risk of colon cancer.Watch the video
The typical cuisine for chickpeas includes hummus, falafels and curries. They’re wonderful to add to salads, soups, and even stir fries and pasta dishes to give your meal a hearty protein boost. But let’s look at some other interesting ways to use these magical little pods…
5 new ways to use them: vegan chickpea recipes that aren’t hummus
- Chickpea scramble: a non-tofu option for a savory vegan brunch
- Chickpea salad sandwich: dressed with creamy avo-mayo, this is a plant-based twist to take over for chicken or tuna salad sandwiches
- Baked falafel wrap: make some fresh falafel and put it in a wrap, with quinoa and quacamole and hummus. Holy yum.
- Chickpea-Sage Crostini: a high-protein and luxuriously savory alternative to bruschetta
- Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles: a sweet and decadent dessert – made with chickpeas! (By my friend Ricki Heller.)
References & Further Reading
» Garbanzo beans, on World’s Healthiest Foods
» Chickpeas, on NutritionFacts.org
» Chickpeas, on Care2