Why Should We All Ask Chickpeas For Autographs?
Chickpeas have been among us for the past 2,500 years, when humans first domesticated the plant somewhere near present-day south-eastern Turkey and Syria. In the last few years, they’ve attracted more attention as nutritionists have begun touting the health benefits of a diet rich in legumes. Chickpeas in particular are rich in phytoestrogens, a kind of molecule that can help protect against diseases like breast, prostate, and colon cancer (1,2,3).
Bring On the Protein!
Shelled chickpeas are also a great source of protein: flour created from chickpeas and other whole pulses seeds generally tends to consist of at least 16 to 20 percent protein, and a remarkably low fat content (5 - 7%). they have more than 25% of protein content in shelled chickpeas. As I’m sure you can guess, it’s never enough to consume a diet rich in just proteins. Instead, healthy food often consists of a medley of well-balanced amino acids that become building blocks for protein structures throughout our body. And when it comes to providing you with these essential amino acids, lentils, chickpeas and yellow peas are a great option.
This is precisely why a lot of vegetarians and vegans choose to include chickpeas in their diets as a meat substitute,Of course, if you would like to follow a meal regimen with no meat at all, I would definitely encourage you to consult your local physician or nutritionist to guide you in the best way to do this with no negative impact to your health.
Trade Out the Wheat for Chickpeas
Back in 2008, a comparative study investigated the immediate effect of consuming wheat and wheat based byproducts vs. chickpea based meals on blood sugar levels in our bodies. I’m sure you can guess the results! Chickpeas and other legumes tend to have a high fiber content, which delays the absorption of sugars in the intestinal tract. The reason this is significant is because several studies have indicated that higher levels of blood sugar following a meal are positively correlated with an increased likelihood for atherosclerosis, even in non-diabetic patients, as well as an increased propensity to develop obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
This isn’t the only way that the high fiber content in chickpeas (approximately 18-22%) can help us lead healthier lives. Fiber provides many benefits to your health apart from reducing high blood sugar. It can help increase the sensation of fullness while eating so that you won’t find yourself sneaking into the snack cupboard or eating excessive meals throughout the day. It also helps maintain a better environment for your intestinal flora, which interacts with fiber to create a substance called short-chain fatty acids. These acids tend to have natural anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. And these properties can help reduce the probability of developing colon cancer.
Incredibly, there’s even a study that suggests chickpeas might help alleviate hypertension by reducing the activity of Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme (ACE-I). How does it do it? It relies on the same mechanism at play in several antihypertensive drugs. The ACE-I is a normal protein in our body, but when the system gets deregulated, we try to reduce its activity to control blood pressure.
But wait! There’s more!
Saponins, another kind of molecule present in chickpeas, are capable of regulating the amount of blood cholesterol present in blood (1). Not only that, but chickpeas also have antioxidant properties due to the presence of phenolic compounds, which give this marvelous legume the ability to inhibit the oxidation of many components of our body and even protect us from the harmful effects of some metals (4).
I confess to all of you that my favorite way to eat these legumes is by creating a rich, chickpea cream. It’s probably one of the reasons I fell in love with traditional middle-eastern dishes, which often use chickpea cream on pita. But there are many ways to prepare this incredible ingredient and it will definitely boost your health. I’m a huge fan, and as I said in the title, I would ask for an autograph if I could because they are big stars!
Before you go, I’ll let you in on a little trick that can enhance the health benefits of these tasty legumes: the phenolic components in chickpeas, those with antioxidant properties, were proven to increase up to three times in roasted chickpeas for 15 minutes! So Roast Away! Now there’s more than one reason to buy chickpeas, stack them in your cupboard, and find a way to add them to your dishes.
Akber Aisa H, Yanhua G, Yili A, Ma Q, Cheng Z. Beneficial Role of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) Functional Factors in the Intervention of Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes Mellitus. In Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions for Diabetes. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2019. p. 615-628.
Adlercreutz H. Phytoestrogens: epidemiology and a possible role in cancer protection. Environ Health Perspec. 1995; 7(103): p. 103-112.
Greg Peterson T, Ji GP, Kirk M, Coward L, Falany CN, Barnes S. Metabolism of the isoflavonesgenistein and biochanin A in human breast cancer cell lines. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 68: p. 1505-1511.
Juárez-Chairez F, Cid-Gallegos M, Meza-Márquez O, Jiménez-Martínez C. Biological Activities of Chickpea in Human Health (Cicer arietinum L.). A Review. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2020.