Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Formally known as Chickpeas, garbanzo beans are one of the oldest consumed crops on the planet and remain one of the most popular today around the world. They are a part of the Legume (bean) family and have been a big part of the human diet for nearly 8,000 years!
If you are asking the question if garbanzo beans and chickpeas are one in the same thing, the answer is a hearty “YES.” The name “garbanzo” is the Spanish name for the popular food, eaten by so many.
Chickpeas are still included in the diets of some of the healthiest populations living around the world today, including those eating traditional cuisines that stem from the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and African nations, as well. The chickpea is one of the most widely grown and eaten bean in the world.
These awesome beans are loaded with nutrition and help increase protein levels, boost digestion, stabilizes blood sugar, boosts immunity and much more! Chickpeas nutrition is a potent package of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is why they are often included in many healing diets. Garbanzos are even great for weight loss!
Chickpea (Garbanzo) Nutrition Facts
One cup serving of chickpeas contains (in daily recommended values):
12.5 grams of dietary fiber
14.5 grams of protein
4.2 grams of fat
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, iron, zinc, phosphorus, B vitamins and more. With so many vitamins and nutrients, chickpeas benefit the body in a number of different ways. Here are the top six health benefits of chickpeas:
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Again, chickpeas are a part of the bean family. They are considered a complex carbohydrate that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. This is important to know because not all carbohydrates are created equal. As you may know, some carbs can wreak havoc on the body! Some quickly raise blood sugar levels and lead to “spikes and dips” in energy (known as Simple Carbs), while others do the opposite and give us sustained fuel (known as Complex carbs). So chickpeas include starch, but it’s a slow burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood.
For example, if you’ve ever had a fabulous garbanzo bean salad, you know exactly what we mean. Or if you are hummus eater, the same there. The superfood works as if you are eating dairy or meat, giving you a tremendous energy boost, yet sustaining the energy for a long period of time.
Garbanzos For Diabetics
Starches contain natural sugars called glucose, which the body uses easily for many essential functions, however glucose can be troublesome for people who diabetic or pre-diabetic, so they should in those cases be eaten in moderation. The process of digesting and utilizing the glucose found in all beans and starches is drawn-out, which is extremely important for diabetics who have trouble reaching a stable blood sugar level after contain sugars due to a resistance to insulin.
Great for Weight Loss
One of the reasons chickpeas are so great for weight loss is the fact they very filling, yet light at the same time. Garbanzos are high in both protein and fiber, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking.
Beans make a filling addition to any recipe because of their fiber, complex carbs, and protein. These macronutrients work together to give us a feeling of being full after eating, while also helping to control our blood sugar levels and therefore maintaining our energy.
Natural Fat Burner
Frequently consuming foods like fat burning garbanzo beans is an excellent way to aid in healthy and sustainable weight loss. Additionally, chickpeas make you feel full, so you’re less likely to snack on empty-calorie, processed junk foods between meals. Mix the delicious garbanzos in a salad with other veggies and BAM! You’ll be full for hours! Because they are so low in calories, yet high in essential fiber and protein, they are a perfect food for those of us watching our waistlines.
Chickpeas Improve Digestion
They are a top fiber based food, with roughly 6-7 grams per half cup serving, garbanzos are fantastic for you. They reduce symptoms of IBS and other internal maladies.
Fiber also helps to balance pH levels and bacteria within the gut, increasing healthy bacteria while also decreasing unhealthy bacteria. An imbalance in gut flora bacteria is often linked to many different digestive problems.
The high amount of fiber in garbanzo beans also aids in heart health, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, and other diseases.
Chickpeas Lower Cholesterol
Not only do they reduce cholesterol, chickpeas (garbanzos) reduce hypertension. Fiber works to create a gel-like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids, helping to balance cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber have been show to be important in helping to control and manage hypertension.
As a whole, beans help to keep the arteries clear from plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. In fact studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and to help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Consuming beans has also been shown in studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fiber content. Because beans keep the digestive system, including the colon, free from harmful bacteria and toxic build-up, they create a healthier overall environment where pH levels are balanced, inflammation is reduced and therefore cancer cells cannot proliferate like they can in an unhealthy environment.
Provides Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Chickpeas nutrition boasts high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins, all of which are especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these essential nutrients due to avoiding animal products. Chickpeas are great source of folate, also called Vitamin B6. Folate is important for helping the body to effectively produce new cells as it plays a role in copying and synthesizing DNA.
It also helps the body utilize other B Vitamins in addition to protein (in the form of amino acids). A deficiency in folate can contribute to anemia, poor immune function, and poor digestion. For pregnant women, a deficiency can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Chickpeas nutrition also includes zinc. Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a role in over 100 important enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc facilitates in bodily functions including protecting against free radical damage (also called oxidative damage), helps speed up wound healing, plays a part in the copying of DNA, and helps with the formation of hemoglobin within the blood.
A deficiency can include frequently getting sick with colds, leaky gut syndrome, consistent digestive problems like diarrhea, poor eye health, infertility, thinning hair, and even stunted growth in children.
Legumes have an alkalizing effect on the body. When chickpeas are combined with a source of healthy fat, like olive oil with hummus, nutrient absorption is further increased.
Additionally, chickpeas are a good source of 3 nutrients that help to reduce common symptoms associated with PMS: magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B6.
Chickpeas Are a Fountain of Youth
Protein is an essential macro-nutrient that plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, from our vital organs, muscles, tissues and even hormone levels. Consuming enough healthy protein helps you to naturally slow aging.
Proteins that we acquire from our diet help to create hemoglobin and important antibodies, to control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help to heal wounds and injuries too.
Great for Those with Restrictive Diets
Chickpeas nutrition not only contains important protein- about 15 grams per cup of cooked beans- but also has many other nutrients and fiber too. Those who are most as risk for not consuming enough protein are children, vegans, vegetarians and some seniors who may not be in control of their own diet.
Not eating adequate amounts of protein on a regular basis can result in muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems such as cataracts, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more. Because chickpeas are a completely plant-based source of vital protein, they are an excellent choice for non-meat eaters who need to be sure to consume enough of this macronutrient.
Chickpeas are often eaten with grains, vegetables, in stews, in hummus (eaten with pita bread, which is awesome). These foods work together to make up a Complete protein. This means they contain all of the building blocks of protein, called Essential Amino Acids, which are necessary for the body to acquire from food in order to use for body function and energy.
The History of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a legume of the plant family Fabaceae. Domesticated chickpeas have been found in regions of Turkey and Greece, with records dating back thousands of years to Ancient times. It’s believed that garbanzo beans were first consumed by Ancient Mediterranean populations between 7500-10,000 years ago, and then spread to Europe and are also a staple in India.
In classical Greece, the beans were often included in sweet desserts and were even consumed raw. Ancient Roman populations prepared the beans in broths, roasts, and stews or enjoyed them as snacks. It’s believed that centuries ago populations associated chickpeas with the philosophical god Venus because the beans were believed to offer powerful health benefits related to reproduction.
The use of chickpeas spread across the Middle East in the years to follow, becoming a staple in nearly every nation’s traditional diet, as it still is today. While chickpeas have been popular worldwide for centuries, they are only recently moving into the spotlight in North America, where the rise in popularity of Middle Eastern recipes like hummus, falafel and other dishes have introduced many new people to just how good garbanzos taste! People across the U.S. now commonly consume chickpeas due to their many culinary uses and noted health benefits.
When Buying Chickpeas
Chickpeas grow on trees and are a type of “Pulse,” meaning they come from a seedpod that contains two or three peas, similarly to how green peas looked before being de-shelled.
There are a number of variations of chickpeas including Desi, Kabuli, Chana Dal, Green and Black. There are also chickpea shoots and of course you can buy chickpea flour.
Chickpeas can be found in dried or precooked (canned or frozen). Many people feel that beans made from scratch (meaning from dried form) taste the best and hold their texture more so than precooked kinds, but if you feel adventuresome, try making them from scratch sometime. You’ll be shocked at how tasty they are!
When Buying Canned or Frozen Garbanzos
Canned, precooked beans are a great option when you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch, although many brands of canned beans use the chemical BPA in the lining of their cans, which is a toxin you will want to avoid leaching into your food. Always when buying canned or frozen food, rinse it thoroughly with clean fresh water.
Look for organic varieties of canned beans that are Certified “BPA Free” in order to avoid this chemical winding up in your beans. The good news is that precooked beans, either in canned or frozen form, often have the same nutrient levels as freshly made beans, so as long as you buy a high-quality brand, you can conveniently enjoy beans without as much work.
Make sure to rinse canned beans to reduce the sodium content and to freshen up the taste. You can also try simmering canned and rinsed beans in some vegetable stock to further plump them up and enhance their flavor.
Where to Buy the Dry Beans
Look for dried chickpeas in the bean or seed bins of your favorite health or grocery store. Look for the organic dried beans for sale, which can usually be found at a very low cost. Dried beans remain fresh for a long time, so you don’t need to worry about buying too much and having them spoil.
It’s best to soak all dried beans overnight prior to cooking them, which helps to make them more digestible, to aid in absorbing their nutrients, and to decrease cooking time. Keep some dried beans in your kitchen for whenever you have some extra time to cook.
There is some concern about the Phytates and Tannins that are naturally occurring in garbanzo beans, and all beans and legumes too. These compounds are often called “nutrient blockers” and have been said to lower nutrient availability in some cases. Soaking and sprouting black bean helps to eliminate Phytic Acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption in addition to making the beans more digestible and less gas-forming.
It’s believed that one of the reasons phytic acid has become a health concern today is because we no longer practice food preparation techniques such as sprouting or sourdough fermentation, which kills off a high amount of phytic acid, therefore people are consuming much more of it than ever before. Too much phytic acid in the system has been known to create health complications, but you would have to eat a lot of garbanzos for that to happen! The solution is to buy organic beans that are also labeled GMO free, since phytic acid is much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.
In fact, try soaking and sprouting all your raw beans (and grains too) since this can help to reduce phytic acid by around between 50% to 100%
So remember, with dried beans pre-soak them the night before, and then cook them with minimal effort and in shorter time. Cook dried beans by combining about 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of dried beans, allowing them to boil for about 90 minutes to 2 hours over low heat.
Once the beans are soft, they are ready to eat. You can make them in large batches and easily freeze them, so you always have some available.
So eat your beans often. You’ll be glad you did!
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