Chickpeas: Going beyond hummus

February 6, 2021 Providence Nutrition Team

Key takeaways: 

  • Chickpeas, AKA garbanzo beans, are among the most widely grown members of the legume family in the world.  

  • The nutty, buttery flavor and creamy texture of chickpeas makes them a must-have ingredient for a wide range of nutritious recipes. 

  • Chickpeas are high in fiber, plant-based protein and numerous vital nutrients and do not contain cholesterol or saturated fat. 

[3 MIN READ]  

If hummus is the only way you’ve ever eaten chickpeas, it may be time to expand your horizons and add more of the nutrition-packed legumes to your regular menu. Regardless of whether they’re called chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these nutritious little spheres have been providing a heaping helping of tasty, nutritious goodness for thousands of years.  

In a recent article, we outlined why legumes are the superheroes of the protein family. This month we'll take a deeper dive into one of the most popular members of the legume family—the chickpea. 

Nutrition powerhouse 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a one-cup serving of chickpeas is a low-calorie way to meet a good portion of your daily nutritional requirementby providing: 

  • 269 calories 

  • 14.5 grams of protein 

  • 45 carbohydrates 

  • 12.5 grams of fiber 

  • 4.7 milligrams of iron (26% daily recommendation) 

  • 276 milligrams of phosphorous (28% daily recommendation) 

  • .57 milligrams of copper (29% daily recommendation) 

  • 1.7 milligrams manganese (84% daily recommendation) 

  • 282 micrograms of folate (71% daily recommendation) 

Chickpeas hold a prominent spot on some of the healthiest menus around the globe, like the DASH or Mediterranean diets. They are nutrient-dense, providing an impressive combination of minerals, fiber, protein and starch that fill you up while remaining low in calories. 

Health benefits 

Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that chickpeas provide a wide range of health benefits, including:  

Weight control—the low-calorie density paired with high protein and fiber content in chickpeas makes you feel full. It helps keep your appetite under control without adding excessive calories. 

Blood sugar management—chickpeas have a low glycemic index and load. They digest slowly and don't cause sudden surges in your insulin and blood sugar levels. 

Reduced risk of heart diseasecertain properties of chickpeas interfere with cholesterol absorption, helping lower cholesterol levels. 

May decrease cancer riskafter eating chickpeas, your body makes a substance called butyrate, which may help eliminate abnormal or dying cells. 

Improved brain function and mood—chickpeas contain choline. This nutrient produces chemicals that affect your mood, memory, muscle control and other functions of your nervous system and brain. 

Better gut healththe high fiber content of chickpeas helps remove waste efficiently. It increases healthy bacteria in your gut for reduced risk of colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. 

Recipes and cooking methods 

Chickpeas have a firm texture that becomes creamy when mashed or beaten. They offer a mild, somewhat nutty flavor and no bitterness, making them a valuable ingredient in many recipes. They are available dried and ready for cooking or canned and ready to eat right away.  

Roasted chickpeas turn up the volume on a lackluster salad and make tasty, nutritious snacks you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. Oil-free Lebanese-style salad is a wholesome dish that makes a delicious meal or side. Or try chickpea pancakes with fennel and kale for a different twist on breakfast food that’s good any time of day. 

Countless recipes for cooking with chickpeas are available with just a quick Google search. Look beyond hummus and add them to salads, side dishes and main courses for a nutritious boost to your daily meals and snacks. 

Did you know? 

  • Chickpeas grow on trees and are a type of pulse or seedpod that contains several peas in its shell.  

  • Since legumes have similar nutrient profiles for both vegetables and protein sources, they can help meet the daily requirements for both food groups, making them a great meat substitute. 

  • Chickpeas are considered a good carb because the starch they contain digests slowly without throwing your blood sugar levels into overdrive. 

  • Aquafaba is the liquid found in canned chickpeas or leftover after cooking chickpeas. It resembles egg whites and is a versatile ingredient found in many vegan recipes where it is used to emulsify, thicken, bind or foam. 

Have you moved past hummus and given #chickpeas a prominent role in your diet? Share your favorite recipes and tips with readers @providence. 

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Find a doctor 

The registered dietitians at Providence can help you develop an eating plan that spices up your diet with healthy alternatives and additions. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area. 

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Related resources 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions. 

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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