Properties and Benefits of Chickpeas: Appetizing, creamy and deliciously nutty in flavor, chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are a great source of protein as well as dietary fiber. Chickpeas are rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus and vitamins B9 and B6 and supply the body with a variety of essential nutrients such as tryptophan, lysine and isoleucine.
Chickpea consumption helps regulate gastrointestinal transit and, due to the high fiber intake, relieves constipation symptoms. Moreover, they represent a good substitute for meat due to their high protein content and contribute to strengthening the body as a result of their considerable iron content.
What do chickpeas look like? Chickpeas are tiny, creamy white, green or black roundish, hard seeds. They are found inside small, elongated green pods, with each pod accommodating from one to three peas. What do chickpeas taste like? Chickpeas have a delicious nutty flavor and a pleasant crunch to them. They go well roasted, mashed for a creamy soup or mixed with rice. They are quite a versatile legume with a great texture and a wonderful, mild nutty taste.
Chickpeas fall into the category of legumes, in the Leguminosae family. Other common names for chickpeas include ceci or cece, gram, Egyptian beans and garbanzo beans. They are available all year round and can be found either fresh, or canned, even dried. Chickpeas come in several colors: green, black and white. They go well in salads, stews, curry, as a main course or side dish. Having a creamy texture and a nutty flavor, it should be easy to convince even your children to eat them.
More important, chickpeas are healthy for you. Here are the top 10 benefits of chickpea consumption:
1) Regular chickpea consumption is said to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, as well as total cholesterol levels. Low cholesterol means healthy arteries and lower atherosclerosis risks.
2) Chickpeas contain powerful phytochemicals called saponins, which boast great antioxidant activity. Recent studies suggest that the saponins in chickpeas reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as osteoporosis.
3) Being rich in molybdenum (80% of the RDI), chickpeas provide antioxidant protection and help prevent tooth decay, growth retardation as well as delay aging. Moreover, molybdenum helps the body get rid of sulfites (mostly used as preservatives) by initiating a natural detoxification process.
4) Chickpeas supply the body with an astounding 273% of the RDI of manganese, a potent antioxidant mineral. Regular consumption promotes cell repair, protects against free radical damage to DNA structures and chronic diseases. Also, the manganese in chickpeas helps maintain elevated energy levels.
5) Chickpeas are recommended for people leading a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle due to their high protein content: 8.86 g of protein/100 g of cooked peas.
6) High in fiber (7.6 g), chickpeas are an excellent natural remedy against constipation. Also, regular consumption of fiber-rich legumes such as beans, peas, chickpeas, nuts and seeds regulate intestinal transit, promote colon health and prevent the absorption of cholesterol from food at the intestinal level. Nuts and seeds in particular provide an excellent fatty acid content as well and are thus ideal for supporting cardiovascular health.
7) Due to their high fiber intake, chickpeas make an ideal food for people suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes conditions such as high blood sugar levels because they regulate glucose and insulin levels.
8) Chickpeas are a good source of iron (25% of the RDI) and are thus recommended for anemia-sufferers as well as women of fertile age.
9) With a good B vitamin content, chickpeas support carbohydrate synthesis. 100 g of cooked chickpeas provide about 50% of the RDI of folic acid, or vitamin B9. Since it is crucial for the health of newborns, expecting mothers should have a generous intake of folic acid.
10) Last but not least, chickpeas provide good amounts of essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Regular consumption is thus beneficial for the good functioning of the heart and other muscles, promotes hormonal balance and strengthens the immune system.