Are you looking for more alternative proteins besides chicken, fish, or beef? Chickpeas are one of the most versatile plant-based proteins out there. Their protein content is very similar to beans and lentils, making them an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. Chickpeas have a nut-like flavor, and they are the main ingredient in hummus.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or even Egyptian peas, are in the legume family. They make up a key food group that is beneficial for many aspects of health promotion throughout the body. The word chickpea comes from the Latin word cicer, which refers to the legume family, Fabaceae.
These popular legumes are full of both types of fiber, insoluble and soluble, making them a go-to resource for those who need to increase fiber intake. They are not only full of fiber but many essential vitamins and minerals as well.
These little nutrient powerhouses pack in a ton of health benefits that range from metabolic health to weight loss and much more.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Chickpeas
- 1. Can Help Ease Digestion
- 2. May Improve Mental Health
- 3. Can Help Promote Bone Health
- 4. May Help Control Weight
- 5. Can Improve Blood Sugar Levels
- 6. Can Promote Heart Health
- 7. May Reduce the Risks of Some Cancers
- 8. Can Improve Vision
- 9. May Help Increase Energy and Prevent Anemia
- 10. Can Regulate Blood Pressure
- 11. May Improve Good Cholesterol
- How to Add More Chickpeas to Your Diet?
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Check out the list below to see how adding more chickpeas to your diet may help you. Plus, learn more about where you can include them in your everyday meal planning.
1. Can Help Ease Digestion
Chickpeas are an excellent source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, so they can improve digestion. Soluble fibers get slowly digested in the colon, while insoluble fibers promote healthy bowel functioning.
Multiple studies show that even a small single dose of chickpeas in a meal can be beneficial in promoting better digestive health (1, 2). Legumes like chickpeas make a great choice especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Strict diets can often lack certain nutrients that are hard to attain beyond animal sources. Chickpeas can be an easy part of a balanced diet.
Easing digestion is necessary for so many areas of health and may even promote lower inflammation in the body.
2. May Improve Mental Health
It turns out chickpeas may even help improve mental health, along with many other physical improvements. That’s because even one cup of chickpeas contains a whopping 69.7 mg of choline. Choline is similar to B vitamins in that they both are essential for a well-functioning nervous system.
Choline is necessary to help regulate mood, memory, muscle control, and more. It can be made in the liver and it is also available in vegetables, beans, and meats, to name a few. Just like B vitamins, choline-rich chickpeas help to maintain healthy wellbeing.
Another key reason that chickpeas may help improve mental health is that they are high in tryptophan, which is the precursor for serotonin. Healthy levels of serotonin in the brain are necessary to promote wellbeing and mood. Those who suffer from anxiety and depression are often low in serotonin.
3. Can Help Promote Bone Health
Chickpeas are not only high in fiber and protein, but they are also an excellent source of calcium. Calcium is essential to promote healthy bones. Chickpeas are a great choice for those who cannot eat certain vegetables high in calcium or consume dairy products.
Even just one-half cup of chickpeas contains over 300 mg of calcium. To promote bone health, vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, and calcium are necessary. Chickpeas include all but vitamin K2, although they do contain some vitamin K.
Chickpeas along with a healthy diet can be a gamechanger when it comes to keeping your bones healthy and strong (5).
4. May Help Control Weight
Excess weight and obesity are America’s number one problem and a major cause of many common chronic preventable diseases such as heart disease. A balanced diet along with lifestyle interventions are crucial ways to take the weight off and maintain weight loss long term.
Adding legumes such as chickpeas may help with weight management (6). Chickpeas contain many nutrients that help promote weight loss as well.
Eating more chickpeas in your diet can be a great alternative if you are trying to minimize the amount of meat you eat as well.
5. Can Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Not only can chickpeas assist with weight loss, but they may also help to improve blood sugar levels. Eating foods with a low glycemic index is a crucial piece of keeping healthy blood sugar levels, and chickpeas have a very low glycemic index.
Eating chickpeas in their natural state provides a better chance of regulating blood sugar due to the change in nutritional content during processing (7).
Eating a healthy balanced diet with chickpeas and other legumes, fruits, and vegetables is necessary to maintain healthy blood sugar levels for overall better metabolic health markers. See if adding more variety to your diet helps to improve your blood sugar levels.
6. Can Promote Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, affecting nearly 650,000 people every year. One in four Americans is diagnosed with some type of heart problem every year. Eating a healthy diet can significantly cut your risk of heart disease down, especially if you have genetic factors.
Adding more nutrient-dense foods like chickpeas can even help to lower your risk of heart disease. That is because they are extremely high in magnesium and potassium, which are essential nutrients to maintain a healthy heart (8).
There are many factors when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart such as stress management, exercise, diet, and genetic components. However, epigenetics is a growing field showing that it may be possible to combat genetic predispositions with a healthy overall lifestyle (9).
7. May Reduce the Risks of Some Cancers
Because chickpeas are so high in essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, choline, fiber, iron, and calcium, they may even have some cancer-protective properties.
Another reason they can be beneficial in lowering cancer risks like colorectal cancer is that the body produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid when consuming chickpeas. Butyrate can help to get rid of dying cells in the body. Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer that can be reduced by eating more chickpeas (10).
They are also high in lycopene and saponins, antioxidants that can also lower cancer risk. Cancer is another complex disease that has many factors but eating a balanced diet is a key ingredient in preventing the risk.
8. Can Improve Vision
Along with a long list of impressive health benefits, chickpeas can also help improve eye health. Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are extremely high in zinc. Zinc is an essential nutrient found in the retina of the eye.
When you have the right levels of zinc, it can help to even prevent macular degeneration (11, 12). Macular degeneration affects nearly two million people in the United States. While age is a factor, eating a healthy balanced diet may help prevent issues with eye problems. Zinc may even further benefit those who are at risk of experiencing age-related macular degeneration (13).
They are also high in beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and α-carotene, which are essential to maintaining healthy eyes. Chickpeas also contain high levels of antioxidants that may further improve eye health by reducing the levels of oxidative stress in the body.
9. May Help Increase Energy and Prevent Anemia
Do you find yourself always reaching for that second, third, or even fourth cup of coffee most days? Diet is often a crucial piece to the energy puzzle, and chickpeas can be a powerhouse when it comes to increasing stamina.
They are packed with vitamin B9, protein, and fiber, all crucial nutrients to keep your energy levels going strong all day long. They are a perfect afternoon snack to keep you going throughout the day. Chickpeas come in crunchy, easy-to-grab snack packs as well for your convenience.
Chickpeas may even be beneficial for those who suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, according to some research in the National Institutes of Health (14). While some may need a balance of animal-based heme iron and plant-based non-heme iron, chickpeas make an overall healthy snack for most.
10. Can Regulate Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure healthy is essential to maintaining a healthy heart and body overall. Blood pressure is largely associated with stress and exercise, but a healthy diet is essential as well.
Their high nutritional properties, especially magnesium, iron, and potassium, may help to regulate blood pressure. Blood pressure regulates when you eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and even low-fat dairy products. While one diet may seem like it works for all, it is never the case. Find what works best for you.
High blood pressure or hypertension puts you at a higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke, which are some of the leading causes of death in the United States. Find out how you can add more chickpeas to your diet below.
11. May Improve Good Cholesterol
Did you know that eating even just one serving a day of chickpeas can significantly reduce bad cholesterol or LDL levels? By doing that, you are also minimizing the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Other foods that count towards cutting down your overall cholesterol include beans, peas, and lentils.
Increased cholesterol levels are a huge problem in the United States. Keeping healthy cholesterol levels where bad cholesterol doesn’t rise too much and the good cholesterol is as high as possible is essential to prevent heart complications.
How to Add More Chickpeas to Your Diet?
Chickpeas are one of the most versatile foods and snacks out there. They are extremely easy to add to your favorite meals and even to purchase as an easy snack. Below are some ways you can add more chickpeas to your diet to reap the many health benefits.
Ways to Add Chickpeas to Your Diet:
- Use chickpea flour products as an alternative to substitute for pasta
- Make or purchase your favorite flavored hummus
- Add toasted chickpeas to salads or much of them as a snack. Season them with garlic or your favorite toppings to keep it interesting.
- Add canned chickpeas to salads or mash them with celery, mayo, dill, and seasonings to make them into a mock tuna salad sandwich
- Use chickpea flour as an alternative for baking sweets
- Sautee them with your favorite greens
- Roast them for a quick snack
- Make your own falafels
- Add them to chicken dishes
Between the health benefits and the versatility, you can’t go wrong with chickpeas. There are so many ways to add more chickpeas to your diet. What way will you try out this week?
Chickpeas provide a wide range of nutrition making them one of the best sources of protein, fiber, and magnesium, to name a few. Because of that, along with heart-healthy antioxidants and more, they can help improve many areas of the body.
From energy production to heart health and even vision improvements, chickpeas can be a powerhouse tiny snack or addition to many meals. See where you can add more chickpeas to your diet to get the most out of your health.