Chickpeas go by a number of names including garbanzo beans, Bengal Gram, ceci beans and chana beans. They taste like nuts and are rich in fiber and minerals. Eating these legumes has a number of health benefits. These benefits mainly come from the fiber, iron, copper, calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin K, and beta-sitosterol that chickpeas contain. The benefits of chickpeas are as described below:
Chickpeas boost immunity
Chickpeas are quite rich in zinc and copper. These two micronutrients are needed for the formation of immune cells and therefore their intake boosts one’s immunity. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains about 30 percent of the recommended daily intake of copper and around 17 percent of the recommended daily intake of zinc. Consumption of chickpeas helps to fight colds and flu.
Chickpeas are a good source of iron
Chickpeas are a good source of dietary iron. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains about 26 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. Iron is a mineral that plays vital roles in the body and therefore it should be consumed in adequate amounts. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells and also forms part of the hemoglobin that is needed to transport oxygen from the lungs to other body cells. Iron is also needed in the breakdown of glucose to energy and for the production of enzymes. Deficiency in iron means less oxygen is transported to other body cells and one thus experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and weakness.
Chickpeas lower cholesterol levels
Chickpeas are high in fiber and fiber has been clinically and epidemiologically proven to be helpful in lowering the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. In a recent study that involved giving 28 grams of fiber daily to participants, the group that was given chickpeas recorded lower LDL-cholestrol levels than the group that was given a different fiber. The group that was given chickpeas also recorded lower total cholesterol and triglycerides. By lowering cholesterol levels, chickpeas reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Chickpeas also contain folate and magnesium which are beneficial to the heart. Magnesium relaxes arteries while folate controls high homocysteine levels which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Chickpeas also contain beta-sitosterol and saponins which may further aid in cardio protection by reducing the cholesterol levels in plasma.
Chickpeas help with weight loss
Chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber which give one a feeling of satiety after eating chickpeas. One will therefore eat less because of feeling full and hence he or she will not add excess calories. Chickpeas in themselves also contain less calories and are unlikely to lead to weight problems in comparison to other foods which contain more calories. In addition, chickpeas can stop the production of insulin. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone which can lead to central obesity.
Chickpeas are anti-carcinogenic
Chickpeas help in fighting various types of cancer. Bacteria in the gut ferment chickpeas into a fatty acid known as butyrate. Butyrate suppresses the proliferation of cancerous cells and also induces self-destruction of such cells. Beta-sitosterol in chickpeas has also been found to reduce colon tumors in rats. One study found increased tumorigenesis in rats which were fed on chickpeas diet and exposed to a known carcinogen in comparison to those who were fed on a normal diet.
Chickpeas help with bone development
Chickpeas contain calcium and phosphorus which are necessary for the development of healthy bones. They also have iron and zinc which are needed for the production and maturation of collagen. Manganese and Vitamin K are also important for bone matrix formation.