✓ Evidence Based

Chickpeas: Facts, Nutrition, Benefits & More

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a nutrient-full food that packs a ton of health benefits. They have a nutty flavor with a grainy texture.

Not only that, they are a great protein alternative to meat-based proteins like 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.

Are you looking to expand the types of proteins you normally eat and try chickpeas?

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about them.

History & Facts

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum), also known as garbanzo beans or even Egyptian peas, are part of the legume family Fabaceae (1). The word chickpea comes from the Latin word cicer, which refers directly to the legume family. Chickpeas are the seeds of the legume plants.

Chickpeas originate from the middle east, more specifically Turkey, and are known as one of the earliest cultivated legumes out there dating back to 7000 BC (2). In ancient civilizations, it is believed to be used medically including promoting menstruation, urination, treating kidney stones, and increasing semen and milk production. During World War 1, it was used as a coffee substitute.

Today there are thousands of different species of chickpeas grown all over the world. Over 15 million tons of chickpeas are produced annually (3). It continues today to be one of the key ingredients in several Mediterranean and middle eastern cuisines. India is the main producer of chickpeas throughout the world (4).

Did You Know?:Ground chickpeas have been used as a coffee substitute since the 18th century and are still commonly used as a caffeine-free alternative today.

Nutrition Facts

In general, most varieties of chickpeas contain similar amounts of nutrients.


In around ½ cup (100 grams) of raw chickpeas, there are the following macronutrients (5):

  • Calories: 378 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 20.5 grams (g)
  • Total fat: 6.04 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 63 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 12.2 grams (g)

The protein and fiber in chickpeas may help keep your appetite under control. Protein and fiber work together to slow digestion, which helps promote fullness. This can help with overall calorie intake which can further lead to weight loss down the road if that’s what your goal is.

One study found that those who are pretzels and hummus for a snack experienced a huge decrease in appetite with an increase in fullness. More research is needed on chickpeas and appetite control to confirm these findings.

Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, making them excellent food for people who don’t eat meat or animal products. ½ cup serving provides over 20 grams of protein, which is comparable to similar foods like beans, chicken, and fish (6). However, it is important to note that they are considered incomplete proteins because they do not contain all of the essential amino acids that meat-based proteins contain.

One plus though is that studies have suggested that the quality of the protein in chickpeas tops all of the types of legumes. So if you’re going to have legumes, chickpeas are a great option.

Summary:Chickpeas are a great plant-based protein that is full of fiber. They can help promote fullness and are a great substitute for meat-based sources of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

In about ½ cup (100 grams weighted) of chickpeas, there are the following vitamins and minerals (7):

  • Calcium: 57 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 4.31 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 79 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 252 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 718 milligrams (mg)
  • Zinc: 2.76 milligrams (mg)
  • Manganese: 21.3 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin C: 4 milligrams (mg)
  • Folate: 557 micrograms (mcg)
  • Choline: 99.3 milligrams (mg)
  • Beta carotene: 40 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin A: 67 IU

Chickpeas are a great source of several minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which all work together to support a healthy functioning heart (8).

Summary:Chickpeas contain several nutrients, and are especially high in the heart-promoting minerals magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Health Benefits

Not only are chickpeas packed full of awesome nutrients, but they also have a ton of health benefits.

May Promote Digestive Health

Chickpeas are an excellent source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, so they can improve digestion (9). Soluble fibers get slowly digested in the colon, while insoluble fibers promote healthy bowel functioning.  The fiber in chickpeas is mostly soluble, meaning that it blends with water to form a gel-like substance in your digestive tract (10). Soluble fiber may help increase the number of healthy gut bacteria and help to promote healthy and regular bowel movements.

Chickpeas contain more fiber than most plant foods, over a whopping 12 grams in ½ cup (11). That’s almost half of the recommended daily intake for adults.

Fiber is important for a healthy diet. Eating enough fiber can help you get more nutrients in foods. Most Americans do not get adequate fiber in their diets. Eating a diet rich in fiber can help increase the feeling of fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes, lower cholesterol, and promote gut health (12).

Multiple studies show that even a small single dose of chickpeas in a meal can be beneficial in promoting better digestive health (13, 14). 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.

Summary:Chickpeas are a great source of fiber, which can help promote digestive health, lower inflammation, and promote regular bowel movements.

May 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 50 mg of calcium (15). 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 game-changer when it comes to keeping your bones healthy and strong (16).

Summary:The high amount of protein, calcium, and other nutrients in chickpeas all help to support healthy bones and keep them strong.

May 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 (17).

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 (18).

Keeping your blood pressure healthy is essential to maintaining a healthy heart and body overall. Blood pressure is largely affected by 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 (19). Blood pressure regulates when you eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and even low-fat dairy products (20). 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 (21). Find out how you can add more chickpeas to your diet below.

Summary:Adding foods like chickpeas into the diet can help promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

Ways to Consume

Chickpeas are one of those foods that can be very versatile and consumed in a variety of ways. They are easy to add to your favorite meals and even to purchase as an easy snack. They’re affordable and widely available in both canned and dry varieties. Having legumes such as chickpeas is especially convenient as a substitute for meat if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Strict diets can often lack certain nutrients that are hard to attain beyond animal sources.

Ways to Add Chickpeas to Your Diet:

  • Use chickpea flour products as an alternative to substitute for pasta
  • Incorporate them into a chili recipe
  • Make or purchase your favorite hummus
  • Turn into a delicious chickpea chocolate pudding for a tasty protein-packed dessert
  • Add toasted chickpeas to any salad
  • Munch them as a snack
  • Season them with garlic or your favorite seasonings for a kick
  • 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
  • Pan-sear them with your favorite greens
  • Roast them for a quick snack
  • Make falafels
  • Add them to chicken dishes or on top of tacos

Summary:There are so many easy ways to add chickpeas to your diet in addition to being a great substitute for animal-based protein.

Potential Risks

Although chickpeas are considered a food that is part of an overall well-balanced diet, there are some risks that certain people should be aware of when consuming them.

  • Allergy: Some people may have an allergic reaction to chickpeas, especially those allergic to legumes (22). Allergic reactions or intolerances may cause issues like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and itching of the skin. Reach out for medical advice if this occurs.
  • Digestive Issues: For some people, chickpeas can be difficult to digest and cause issues such as discomfort, bloating, and gas (23). This is especially more common in those who have gastrointestinal medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, lactose intolerance, Hirschsprung disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Medication Interference: Because chickpeas contain a high amount of potassium, this can interfere with those who are on heart medications like beta-blockers (24). Beta-blockers are a medication that can increase the amount of potassium in the blood, therefore causing potentially dangerous levels of potassium if too many chickpeas are eaten as well.

Summary:Chickpeas are fine for most to consume and are part of a balanced diet. However, for some people, they may have allergic reactions, digestive issues, and even medication interferences that happen when they are consumed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s better, canned or dried chickpeas?

Chickpeas can be bought both dried or canned. They both contain similar amounts of nutrients and should be equally as tasty. A bonus of canned chickpeas is that they are typically pre-cooked and ready to be eaten right away. When purchased as dried chickpeas, they are typically soaked and then cooked before being eaten.

Can I find fresh chickpeas anywhere?

Yes! Fresh, green chickpeas are in season for a small time in the US, from mid-to-late spring. Dried and canned chickpeas are available year-round.

Did You Know?:Other than the beige color you may normally see chickpeas as, they can also be black, green, red, and brown.


Chickpeas aren’t only an essential ingredient in hummus and other Mediterranean and middle eastern cuisines.

They’re also very healthy containing tons of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Consuming chickpeas may help support bone health, digestive health, and even heart health, decreasing the overall risk of disease.

Chickpeas are easy to add to a variety of meals and snacks and can be eaten on their own as a tasty treat.

Go grab some chickpeas and start enjoying them today!