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Benefits of chickpeas and recipes

Benefits of chickpeas and recipes

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Within the super food community, there are a lot of talks about the benefits of chickpeas. Chickpea, or garbanzo bean, comes from the Mediterranean and the Middle East area. It is very common in Malta and can be found in every supermarket or shops around the island. Nowadays, it has spread its culinary influence to all over the world.

Like other legumes such as beans, peas and lentils, chickpeas contain high protein and fibre content. They also contain several key vitamins and minerals known to benefit human health.

benefits of chickpeas
Hands of bean and peas seller, Varanasi Benares India. Source: wikipedia

Here are some health benefits of chickpeas:

1) Diabetes

Studies have shown that:

  • type 1 diabetics who consume high-fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels;
  • and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 grams of fibre per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men.

2) Bone health

Phosphate and calcium are both important in bone structure. However, the careful balance of the two minerals is necessary for proper bone mineralisation. Consumption of too much phosphorus with too little calcium can result in bone loss.

Bone matrix formation requires the mineral manganese. Additionally, the iron and zinc are critical in the production and maturation of collagen.

Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health. It acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.

Chickpeas contain iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K. With these benefits of chickpeas, they contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

3) Blood pressure

Maintaining a low-sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure. Yet, increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to a US national survey, fewer than 2% of adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation.

4) Heart health

High in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B-6, and a tiny bit of cholesterol, chickpeas are ideal food to promote heart health. Fibre helps lower the level of cholesterol in the blood, hence decreases the risk of heart disease.

In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium daily had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease than those consumed about 1000 mg. By adding some into your diet, you are gaining the benefits of chickpeas in improving heart health.

5) Cancer prevention

Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables, but can be found in chickpeas. It plays a role in liver enzyme function, and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumour growth rates.

Chickpeas also contain Folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair. Thus, they help prevent the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA. Moreover, saponins in chickpeas prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading throughout the body.

High-fibre intakes from fruits and vegetables like chickpeas tend to lower the risk of colon cancer. In addition, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps protect cells against free radical damage.

6) Cholesterol

Research shows that the benefits of chickpeas in the diet help lower the amount of the bad cholesterol in the blood.

7) Inflammation

Choline is an important and versatile nutrient in chickpeas. It helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps:

  • maintain the structure of cellular membranes,
  • aids in the transmission of nerve impulses,
  • assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
8) Digestion and regularity

Because of their high-fibre content, chickpeas help to prevent constipation and promote healthy digestion.

9) Weight management and satiety

Dietary fibres are usually recognized as important factors in weight management and loss. They act as “bulking agents” in the digestive system. These compounds increase satiety and reduce appetite. By this way, it makes you feel fuller for longer and thereby eat less.

Consuming fruits and vegetables has long been believed to reduce the risk of many health conditions. For example, obesity and heart disease, promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increases energy, etc.

secrets of india health shop chick peas
Secrets of India’s chick peas. Click here to have it delivered to your door! Free delivery in Malta and Gozo.

How to incorporate more chickpeas into your diet

With all those wonderful benefits of chickpeas, you are eager to add some into your diet. But, you wonder how? Read on!

Chickpeas are available year-round and are often found in grocery stores either dried and packaged or canned. Their nutty flavour and buttery texture allow them to be an easy addition into any meal.

When preparing dried chickpeas, it is important to pick out any small rocks or other debris that may have been wound up in the package. Wash and soak them in water for about 8 to 10 hours before cooking to achieve the best flavour and texture. You can tell they are ready when you can split them easily between your fingers. Be careful not to soak them for more than 12 hours, otherwise they become mushy and bland-tasting. Soaking dried legumes reduces the cooking time, and avoid us from getting gastrointestinal distress. After soaking, chickpeas are best cooked by simmering for a few hours until tender.

Quick tips:
chickpeas recipes hummus
Chickpea hummus, a common touch of Mediterranean cuisine.
  • Purée chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini to make a quick and tasty hummus.
  • Toss chickpeas and some other legumes with any vinaigrette for an easy protein-packed bean salad. Add some rice to make it a complete protein.
  • Sprinkle some chickpeas over your salad to add a nutty flavor and more textures.
  • For gluten-free baking, chickpea flour can add fiber, protein and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.
  • Add chickpeas to vegetable soup to increase its nutritional content.
  • Mix chickpeas with your favorite spices for a delicious side or snack.
  • Try the traditional Middle Eastern falafel. Mash chickpeas with cumin, garlic, chilli and coriander. Then divide the mixture into small balls. Fry the chickpeas balls until they are crisp and then serve them inside pita bread.

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