Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo beans, is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated legumes. Other common Indian names of chickpeas are kabuli chana, chole, and bengal gram beans. They are the best and cheap sources of protein as compared to animal protein. They are most commonly used in the form of curries, salad, sprouts, soup, hummus, stews, and flour. There are two varieties of chickpeas which are most commonly known as kabuli chana (big and lighter in color) and desi chana (small and darker in color). They are good option for vegans as well as for people with gluten intolerance. Chickpeas are also available in canned form which are safe to use but in limited amounts. You need to drain them and rinse all the water before cooking. The nutritional values of canned chickpeas is usually less than the dried chickpeas.
Nutritional Facts of chickpeas -
Chickpeas have remarkable nutritional benefits. They contain a rich amount of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B complex, multiple minerals, antioxidants, carbohydrates, and a low amount of fat. Like other beans and legumes, chickpeas are also loaded with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds.
Health benefits of chickpeas -
Heart - Chickpeas are good source of heart-friendly minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber which help to minimize the risk of heart diseases by dropping blood cholesterol levels. Potassium and magnesium aid in preventing high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart diseases.
Skin health - The nutrient contents of chickpea promotes skin health. Eating them regularly helps to reduce wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and early signs of aging. Soaked and boiled chickpea helps to reduce skin allergy as well as skin fungal infections.
Hair health - Chickpea contains a high amount of protein, iron, folate, manganese, copper, and zinc that plays a vital role in hair growth. They aid to strengthen hair, prevent premature greying of hair, treat scalp itching, and alleviate dandruff problems.
Digestion - Chickpea contains a favorable amount of fiber that supports bowel movement and reduces the risk of bloating, constipation, and developing colon cancer. Cellulose present in the skin of chickpeas stimulates functions of the intestine which helps to reduce irritable bowel syndrome.
Women's health - Chickpea contains good amount of isoflavones which act as a plant-based chemical called phytoestrogen. It is beneficial for both pre- and post-menopausal women. They help to treat the conditions caused by estrogen deficiency such as mood swings, urinary tract infections, infertility, irregular periods, etc. They also possess anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties.
Muscles and Bones - Chickpeas are a great source of protein, iron, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin K. These minerals help in the development of muscle mass. Vitamin K works with calcium to build strong bones and reduces the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. The anti-inflammatory properties of chickpeas help to reduce bone density loss and the risk of arthritis.
Weight loss - Consumption of fiber and protein-rich foods in ideal amounts increase satiety level which suppresses hunger and fulfills the stomach for a longer period. Chickpeas are also high in fiber and protein which reduces the habit of unhealthy snacking which in turn reduces the intake of unhealthy calorie and aids in managing weight.
Cancer - Chickpea contains cancer-fighting compounds lycopene and saponin which prevents the spread of cancer cells and lowers the risk of certain types of cancer. Selenium is a mineral found in chickpea which also helps to decrease the growth of tumor.
Diabetes - Chickpeas contain anti-diabetic compounds which is beneficial for managing blood sugar levels. They have low glycemic index as well as low carbohydrate which make them best choice for diabetic people. The fiber content in chickpeas take long time to digest and reduces the risk of rising blood glucose levels after having a meal.
Recommended amounts of chickpeas -
The portion size of chickpeas should be 25-30 grams for adults and 10-15 grams for children in one go. You can include chickpeas once in a week in recommended amounts. People with good digestion and no underlying gastric issues can even have it more often in limited amounts.
Side effects of chickpeas -
Like other legumes and beans, chickpea should also not be eaten raw or uncooked or in excessive amount. They contain several toxic substances and sugars (oligosaccharides) which are difficult to digest and can be the leading cause of gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS, constipation, bloating, colitis, hemorrhoids, and anal fissures. Uncooked beans also contain phytate which reduces the absorption of calcium and causes bone-related disorders.
How to use chickpeas?
Many people take chickpeas usually in the form of curry or gravy with poori, bhatura, chapati, or rice. But nowadays, chickpeas are also used as an add-on with meals in various forms like salads, soups, sprouts, hummus tahini, flours, sandwiches, hamburgers, and even desserts.
Best way of using chickpeas for any dish is by soaking them in sufficient water for 8-12 hours or overnight. Pressure cook the soaked chickpeas before using in any recipe for better digestion.
Chickpea salad - Take soaked and boiled chickpeas (can also take chickpea sprouts and boil for few minutes before using) and add chopped tomato, cucumber, carrot, beetroot, spinach, onion, and moong dal sprouts. Enjoy the healthy salad.
Chickpeas scrub - Boil some chickpeas and make a fine paste by adding little water. Apply this paste all over the face and neck. Scrub well for 1-2 minutes with soft hands, then leave it for 5 minutes and wash with fresh water. Use this scrub twice a week for best results.
Hummus - In a blender jar take ½ cup pressure cooked chickpeas, 1 tbsp dry roast sesame seeds powder, 2 garlic cloves, salt according to taste, 1 green chili, ½ tsp cumin seeds, 1-2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 tsp olive oil. Blend to make a smooth paste. Serve with snacks (add green coriander leaves for additional taste).
Chickpea flour- Chickpea flour can be used in many dishes like chapati (mix chickpea flour with wheat flour and make chapati), chickpea fritters, pancakes, cheela, namkeen, dhokla, khandvi, sweets such as laddu, barfi, halwa, and so on.
Chickpea mask for hair - Take 2-3 tbsp of chickpea flour, add 1-2 tbsp of fresh curd or buttermilk, mix them properly and apply this paste on the scalp and hair. Massage them for some time and leave for 5-7 minutes. Wash your hair thoroughly with fresh water. You can apply mild shampoo after washing it. It makes your hair smooth and strong. Chickpea oil is also available in the market that you can use for fast results.
Note - No doubt chickpeas contain a number of essential nutrients and have numerous health benefits but the ideal amount should be noted before consuming them. Having chickpeas in excess amounts can increase the levels of potassium, phosphorus, and other minerals in the body which can have harmful effects on kidney, bones, and heart. People should consult their dietician if they have any chronic illnesses and reported sensitivity.