There are many reasons why I like chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and I have just learned that chickpeas have a new claim to fame! There are loads of benefits for your body when you eat chickpeas. They are a great vegetarian source of protein, and they contain a hefty amount of fiber. But there’s far more to this unassuming little cream colored bean than meets the eye!
Chickpeas contain a long list of nutrients: molybdenum, manganese, folate, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, selenium, magnesium, choline, vitamin B6, vitamin K, fiber and protein. The combination of nutrients promotes good digestion, helps reduce inflammation, aids nerve impulses and helps to build and maintain strong bones.
The antioxidant level in chickpeas is high. This includes Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and phytonutrients (quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin). Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, lower the overall oxidative stress in the body, and they are beneficial for heart health.
Chickpeas are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, are gluten free (perfect for celiacs!) and are low glycemic because of their protein and fiber content. This means that they slow down the absorption of blood sugar during digestion, stopping the roller-coaster effect of spiking and crashing blood sugar.
To top all that off – chickpeas are incredibly versatile because they have a mild flavor that can be paired with many different spice combinations. They can be eaten with whole grains (such as quinoa or buckwheat), added to soups, used as the main protein in stews and chili, they make great snacks, and they can easily be tossed into green salads. One very popular use for chickpeas is to make hummus – a healthy spread or dip for vegetables. For healthy, low glycemic and gluten free baking – chickpea flour can be used in place of processed wheat flour. Chickpea flour is very healthy because it contains fiber, protein and the other nutrients (listed earlier) as well.
While researching, I noticed one minor caution. People taking beta-blocker medication often have an elevated level of potassium in their blood from the beta-blockers. Those people should only consume moderate amounts of chickpeas due to the potassium content of the chickpeas.
Studies on chickpeas:
There have been many studies done regarding the benefits of chickpeas. Here is what two recent studies have indicated:
In one study, after one week of consuming 1/3 cup of chickpeas per day, participants showed a marked improvement in their body’s control of blood sugar and insulin secretion. This is great news for people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic!
A study was done to find out how garbanzo beans affects a person’s appetite. When their diet was supplemented with chickpeas, participants consumed less food overall, including less refined food snacks and they reported more satisfaction with their diet. Consuming less refined foods and unhealthy snacks can be a game changer for those wanting to balance blood sugar and reduce weight!
Chickpeas fiber content, heart health and colon cancer:
Chickpeas new claim to fame is centered around the fiber content. A recent study indicated that the fiber in chickpeas goes the extra mile when it comes to health benefits. Participants in the study that were given chickpeas as their daily fiber source showed better regulation of blood fat (total cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides) than participants that were given fiber from a variety of food sources. These new findings point to incredible health benefits for the cardiovascular system and the heart.
But wait – there’s more good news about the fiber in chickpeas. Indications are that it can lower the risk of colon cancer. How? At least 2/3 of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble. The insoluble fiber goes through the digestive tract unaltered until it gets to the last part of the large intestine (the colon). The bacteria in the colon breaks down the fiber into short chain fatty acids (acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid) which can be absorbed by the colon wall and then utilized as the energy source for the cells lining the colon wall. The energy keeps those cells healthy. Having healthy cells in the colon wall can lower the risk of colon cancer.
All in all, chickpeas are a mega source of nutrition, they are easy and versatile to consume and recent studies show that their nutrition can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and reap many health benefits, including heart and colon health.
If you are interested in guidance on low glycemic eating to control blood sugar and lose weight (without another diet) so you can feel good and look great – I can help! Contact me here.
Copyright © 2016 Cathy Ormon Health Coach. All rights reserved.