The Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are part of the legume family. Small, round chickpeas, often called Garbanzo beans, are delicious in Indian curries or cold in salads. They can be ground to a paste and combined with tahini (sesame seed butter) to produce the Mediterranean delicacy called Hummous. Health benefits of chickpeas include intestinal health, cholesterol lowering and blood sugar control

Chickpea Nutrition

Chickpeas contain 269 calories per cup. Chickpeas are a good source of folate (71% of the daily value per cup) and manganese (84% of the daily value per cup). They also contain magnesium, phosphorous, copper and iron and are an excellent source of fibre, low GI carbohydrate and protein.

Chickpeas for Intestinal Health

Many of the health benefits of chickpeas are related to their fibre content. All legumes are a rich source of fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre helps increase stool weight, thereby preventing constipation and insoluble fibre helps attract water into the colon to soften stools. A high fibre diet can help prevent colon cancer, diverticular disease and other diseases of the bowel.

Chickpeas for Cholesterol Lowering and Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Soluble fibre, found in legumes, helps mop up cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus preventing its absorption. In addition, legumes are rich in folate, which plays a role in homocysteine lowering and magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure.

Chickpeas for Blood Sugar Control

Soluble fibre can bind to sugars in the digestive tract and prevent their absorption. Legumes contain carbohydrate in an exceptionally low GI form, which means eating them can help improve blood glucose control, which can help in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Chickpeas for Vegetarian Health

Legumes contain two very important ingredients often in short supply in vegetarian diets: iron and protein. Combining legumes with wholegrains, for example with rice, creates a complete protein (one that contains all 8 essential amino acids).

Chickpeas for prevention of neural tube defects

Because legumes are rich in folate, they have applications in preventing neural tube defects. Eating folate rich foods pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy can help the fetal spinal column to develop normally.

Special Notes

Legumes are on of the few plant foods that contain a high purine content. Purines are typically found in high protein animal foods. Foods high in purines can contribute to high uric acid levels, which increase the risk of uric acid kidney stones and an arthritic-like condition called gout. People with pre-existing gout or uric acid stones or those with elevated blood uric acid levels may need to reduce their intake of chickpeas.

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