5 Surprising Benefits of Chickpeas
When you think of chickpeas, you probably think of two things: hummus and vegetarian protein. And while these are two wonderful aspects of chickpeas, there are even more benefits and possibilities for these little legumes than you would expect.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are bite-sized legumes that are widely believed to originate from the Middle East (probably Turkey or Afghanistan). Wherever they come from, Chickpeas are now an important dietary staple in India, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America. Whether cooked in soups or tossed in salads, Chickpeas add a high level of nutrition and a nutty, pleasant taste to traditional dishes all over the globe.
Chickpeas are a veritable super food, and this blog post discusses 5 less known benefits of chickpeas that will inspire you to stock up your freezer or pantry today.
1) Benefits of Chickpeas: Packed with amino acids
We need essential amino acids to survive and thrive, and we can only get them through our diet. Luckily, when it comes to amino acids, chickpeas are the real deal. In fact, chickpeas contain every single amino acid except for one. According to Livestrong.com,
“The proteins found in garbanzo beans include all eight of the essential dietary amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The only missing essential amino acid in garbanzo beans is histidine, which is necessary only for infants.”
These essential amino acids are responsible for building your muscles, keeping you healthy, controlling your hormone levels, and regulating immune function. You literally cannot survive without them, and they can be hard to get if you are following a meat-free diet. Therefore, chickpeas are a lifesaver for vegetarians and vegans everywhere, giving them an easy option to make sure they are getting enough amino acids everyday.
2) Benefits of Chickpeas: Acts as an appetite suppressant
It’s not just the protein in chickpeas that is leaving you full and satisfied. Chickpeas are also packed with fiber and starch, which aid in digestion and help suppress an overactive appetite.
The starch in Chickpeas signals your body to digest your food more slowly so that you don’t just feel fuller longer, you actually are fuller for longer. This phenomenon affects your body throughout the entire day, so if you eat chickpeas for lunch, you will end up digesting your dinner more slowly as well, leaving you feeling full and satisfied until morning.
Chickpeas slow down your digestion without causing constipation or other digestive issues. The fiber in chickpeas will actually keep you regular, and while the starch will signal your body to digest slowly, it does not stop the digestive process. It simply prevents you from having the “high” and “crash” that you may feel with less nutritious alternatives like bread.
3) Benefits of Chickpeas: Stabilizes blood sugar and lowers cholesterol
The complex carbs and soluble fiber in chickpeas lowers our blood sugar to prevent spikes throughout the day. In other words, it is the exact opposite of eating a sugary, simple carb snack like cookies or candy.
Including chickpeas in their daily diet is a way that diabetics can control their blood sugar, and many diabetics keep chickpea-based snacks on hand in the event of a blood sugar spike. Saffron Road’s roasted chickpea snacks come in a myriad of flavors and are a great snack option for anyone who needs to monitor their glucose levels.
Chickpeas also are proven to lower cholesterol. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that individuals who ate a serving a day of chickpeas could significantly reduce their bad cholesterol, averaging out at a 5% decrease, and that this decrease could significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4) Benefits of Chickpeas: Full of antioxidants
Second only to lentils, chickpeas are a legume with a massive amount of antioxidants packed inside. This is why chickpeas have been credited for reducing the risks of colon and other cancers.
Antioxidants protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals, and they protect your heart from stress and disease. Antioxidants can even reverse the negative effects of harmful behavior such as smoking or inhaling pollution, so the healing effects of antioxidants literally transform the toxins in your body and help you even out unnatural chemical imbalances.
The fact that chickpeas have high antioxidant levels make them a part of a cancer-fighting diet, and taking the time to make sure you get enough antioxidants is something everyone should consider as they grow older.
5) Benefits of Chickpeas: Accessible and budget friendly
Once you know all of the benefits of chickpeas listed above, it becomes truly impressive just how accessible and inexpensive chickpeas are. Canned chickpeas are available in most grocery stores at an affordable price, and including them in your daily diet is as easy as rinsing them and tossing them in your favorite soup or salad.
For busy professionals who don’t have time to prepare their own meals, Saffron Road’s crunchy chickpeas and Chick Bean crisps are an easy, delicious way to get your daily dose of this superfood. You can get a coupon for $1.00 off of your purchase at our website.
All in all, chickpeas have a miraculous “stabilizing” force on our bodies, and help to keep our health grounded, whether that means by neutralizing free radicals or neutralizing sugar spikes in our blood.
There are different components of the chickpea that work together to make it one of the healthiest foods we can eat, and it is important to note that it is best to eat a chickpea in its whole form in order to get these benefits. Oftentimes, we try to break the benefits of a whole food down into vitamins or supplements, attempting to harness the amino acid or antioxidant benefits of chickpeas into a “quick fix” form. However, this does not work. Whole foods are proven to “be more than the sum of their parts” in the sense that they offer more benefits when you leave them as nature intended instead of consuming each component in a broken down form. So it’s best to leave your chickpeas alone and look for some fun and easy recipes that will help you keep them in your daily meals.
Now that we’ve convinced you to embrace Chickpeas as a healthy part of your diet, check out our recipes on SaffronRoad.com that offer some incredible inspiration for how to eat chickpeas everyday.