Think Chickpeas Are Boring? Think Again!Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
If you’re in good health, there’s nothing wrong with giving in to a craving or treating yourself every now and then. But it’s even better if you can find healthy alternatives to junk foods you could be craving. And if you get really creative and enlist the help of the Internet, you may be surprised at what you find and come up with.
For example, I recently came across this recipe that supposedly makes regular old chickpeas taste like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a super sugary cereal that, in my opinion, should never be considered a viable breakfast option.
All you have to do apparently is take a can of chickpeas, which are a type of legume also known as garbanzo beans, drain and rinse them and then dry with a paper towel. After the chickpeas are dry, pop them into the oven on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (or until crispy). After they are done baking, (while still warm) toss the chickpeas in some olive oil, honey and cinnamon. Then, pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes so that the chickpeas can caramelize. Voilà! Cinnamon Toast Crunch!
So if you, your kids or perhaps your spouse or partner can’t seem to shake their love of processed, sugary cereals, doing a little simple magic in the kitchen with chickpeas may be the solution.
Personally, I have to be careful about cooking legumes (lentils, peas, black beans, fava beans, green beans, chickpeas) in my home. My husband has a very common genetic defect, and legumes may trigger the destruction of his red blood cells.
But for those of you without this deficiency (if you are not sure, ask your doctor for a G6PD blood test), chickpeas may be a great legume to include in your diet, even if you are not transforming them into Cinnamon Toast Crunch!
As you probably know, chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, a delicious spread originally made in the Middle East that pairs nicely with fresh, raw veggies and pita bread.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Consumers of chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron as compared to non-consumers.”
Furthermore, “Emerging research suggests that chickpeas and hummus may play a beneficial role in weight management and glucose and insulin regulation, as well as have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Raw or cooked chickpeas and hummus also contain dietary bioactives such as phytic acid, sterols, tannins, carotenoids, and other polyphenols such as isoflavones, whose benefits may extend beyond basic nutrition requirements of humans.”
Another potential benefit of eating chickpeas, that actually surprised me, is promoting gut health.
“Chickpeas contain a soluble fiber called raffinose, a type of oligosaccharide that is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria called Bifidobacterium. As bacteria break down this fiber, a short chain fatty acid called butyrate is produced. Butyrate plays a role in reducing inflammation in the cell wall of the colon, promoting regularity in the intestines, and possibly preventing colorectal cancer by promoting cell apoptosis (death),” according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
On top of this, chickpeas are full of essential nutrients we all need to stay healthy.
Some of the nutrients in one cup of boiled chickpeas include:
- Protein, 14.53 g. Protein is an essential macronutrient (along with water, fiber, fats and cholesterol and carbohydrates). Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissues and make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals.
- Fiber, 12.5 g. Fiber helps relieve constipation, soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may even help prevent colon cancer.
- Calcium, 80 mg. Calcium is the go-to nutrient for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps control high blood pressure and diabetes. It also ensures that your heart, nerves and muscles are all functioning properly.
- Magnesium, 79 mg. This mineral is needed by more than 300 human body enzymes to facilitate biochemical reactions. It helps create energy for the body and activates muscle and nerve tissues by enabling potassium and calcium transfer through your cell membranes. If magnesium levels in the body are too low, whole body systems don’t work properly, resulting in fatigue and cramps. (To read about all of the different types of magnesium supplements available, click here).
- Phosphorus, 276 mg. This mineral works with calcium to help build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
- Potassium, 477 mg. This must-have mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. Potassium helps keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age. (Read here to learn about how to avoid a potassium deficiency if you are taking diuretics).
- Folate, 282 mcg. Most adults need about 400 mcg of folate daily. If you are pregnant, you may need more. Folate is essential for cell growth and many other bodily functions. To see how much folate you need, read here.
- Vitamin A, 44 IU. This vitamin is an antioxidant that supports the immune system and is good for skin and eye health. Vitamin A also promotes cell growth.
Additional ways to incorporate chickpeas into your diet?
It’s super easy! Toss chickpeas over a salad or use hummus on sandwiches instead of mayo. I know it sounds strange, but you can even make chickpea brownies!
Recently, chickpea rice just hit the grocery store aisles. You can also buy and use chickpea pasta and chickpea flour. (Keep in mind that if you do have the G6PD deficiency, be cautious about consuming gluten-free flours as they may also contain fava bean flour).
Many people go for canned chickpeas for the convenience, but make sure to go for low sodium and might I suggest also reaching for the organic kind. There honestly isn’t a huge price difference between organic and non-organic chickpeas.
If you purchase dried chickpeas, rinse and soak them in water for at least four hours before cooking.
Finally, as always, consult a competent healthcare professional about what foods you are including in your diet, especially if you have any existing health issues, are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Do you like chickpeas? If not, what’s your favorite legume?
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.