Health Benefits of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

health-benefits-of-garbanzo-beans-chickpeas

Many public health organizations—including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society—recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 3 cups of legumes per week (based on a daily intake of approximately 2,000 calories). Because 1 serving of legumes was defined as 1/2 cup (cooked), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans come very close to this as they recommend of 1/2 cup of cooked legumes on a daily basis. Based on our own research review, we believe that 3 cups of legumes per week is a very reasonable goal for support of good health. However, we also believe that optimal health benefits from legumes may require consumption of legumes in greater amounts. This recommendation for greater amounts is based upon studies in which legumes have been consumed at least 4 days per week and in amounts falling into a 1-2 cup range per day. These studies suggest a higher optimal health benefit level than the 2005 Dietary Guidelines: instead of 3 cups of weekly legumes, 4-8 cups would become the goal range. Remember that any amount of legumes is going to make a helpful addition to your diet. And whatever weekly level of legumes you decide to target, we definitely recommend inclusion of garbanzo beans among your legume choices.

You will find that many of our recipes containing beans gives you the choice between using home cooked beans and canned beans. If you are in a hurry canned beans can be a healthy option. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value between canned garbanzo beans and those you cook yourself. However there may be some concern over the BPA content of canned products. To find out if the cans of your favorite canned beans are lined with BPA, you will need to contact the manufacturer. Your best bet to avoid BPA is to factor in a little more time to your meal preparation process and prepare beans yourself. See Healthiest Way of Cooking Garbanzo Beans below.

Nutrients in
Garbanzo Beans
1.00 cup cooked (164.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value


 molybdenum164%


 manganese84.5%


 folate70.5%


 fiber49.8%


 tryptophan43.7%


 protein29%


 copper28.9%


 phosphorus27.5%


 iron26.3%


Calories (268)14%


This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile
  • References

Health Benefits

Digestive Tract Support

Even though legumes are known for their fiber, most people do not know how helpful the fiber in garbanzo beans can actually be for supporting digestive tract function. First is the issue of amount. Garbanzos contain about 12.5 grams of fiber per cup. That’s 50% of the Daily Value (DV)! In addition to this plentiful amount, at least two-thirds of the fiber in garbanzos is insoluble. This insoluble fiber typically passes all the way through our digestive tract unchanged, until it reaches the last part of our large intestine (the colon). Bacteria in our colon can break down the garbanzos’ insoluble fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) including acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. These SCFAs can be absorbed by the cells that line our colon wall and can be used by these cells for energy. In fact, butyric acid is the preferred source of energy for the cells lining our colon. With the extra amounts of energy provided by SCFAs from the insoluble fiber in garbanzos, our colon cells can stay optimally active and healthy. Healthier colon cell function means lower risk for us of colon problems, including lower risk of colon cancer.

Unique Supply of Antioxidants

Many of our body systems are susceptible to oxidative stress and damage from reactive oxygen molecules. These systems include our cardiovascular system, our lungs, and our nervous system. Plentiful amounts of antioxidant nutrients are critical for the support of these body systems, and garbanzo beans are a remarkable food in terms of their antioxidant composition. While containing small but valuable amounts of conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, garbanzo beans also contain more concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients. These phytonutrients include the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin (usually found in the outer layer of the beans), and the phenolic acids ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid (usually found in the interior portion of the beans). Depending on the type of bean and color/thickness of the outer layer, garbanzo beans can also contain significant amounts of the anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin, and petunidin. The mineral manganese—a key antioxidant in the energy-producing mitochondria found inside most cells—is also provided in excellent amounts by garbanzo beans. In fact, just one cup of garbanzos can provide you with nearly 85% of the Daily Value (DV) for this key antioxidant. An increasing number of animal and human studies clearly show the ability of garbanzo beans to reduce our risk of heart disease, and we believe that an important part of this risk reduction is due to the fantastic antioxidant make-up of these legumes.

Decreased Cardiovascular Risks

While epidemiologic studies don’t always single out garbanzo beans from other beans when determining their relationship to cardiovascular disease, garbanzo beans are almost always included in the list of legumes studied when heart disease is the focus of diet research. Large-scale epidemiologic studies give us a great look at potential heart benefits from garbanzo beans, and the evidence shows garbanzo beans to be outstanding in this area. As little as 3/4 cup of garbanzos per day can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in a one-month period of time. This cardiovascular support is likely to come from multiple aspects of garbanzo beans and their nutrient composition. About one-third of the fiber in garbanzo beans is soluble fiber, and this type of fiber is the type most closely associated with support of heart health. As mentioned earlier in this Health Benefits section, garbanzo beans also have a unique combination of antioxidants, and these antioxidants clearly provide support for our blood vessels walls and blood itself. And while garbanzo beans are not a fatty food, they do contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the body’s omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made. There are about 70-80 milligrams of ALA in every cup of garbanzo beans, and there are about 2 grams of other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Risk of coronary heart disease is one of the specific types of cardiovascular risks that has been shown to be reduced by regular intake of garbanzo beans and other legumes.

Better Regulation of Blood Sugar

No food macronutrients are more valuable for blood sugar regulation than fiber and protein. These two nutrients have an amazing ability to help stabilize the flow of food through our digestive tract and prevent the breakdown of food from taking place too quickly or too slowly. When food passes through us at a healthy rate of speed, release of sugar from the food is typically better regulated. Strong vitamin and mineral composition of a food – including strong antioxidant composition – can also help stabilize its digestive impact on our blood sugar. Given these basic relationships between nutrition and blood sugar control, it’s not surprising to see garbanzo beans improving blood sugar regulation in research studies. We’ve seen studies in which participants consumed as little as 1/2 cup of garbanzo beanss per day and still witnessed better blood sugar control in as little as one week. In animal studies, garbanzo-based improvements in blood sugar regulation have partly been linked to better control of insulin output and overall insulin function. We suspect that some of these blood sugar benefits are directly related to improved digestive function. Garbanzo beans are a fantastic food for providing our digestive system with nutrient support. Even though research studies have shown blood sugar benefits with as little as 1/2 cup servings of garbanzo beans, we recommend that you consider more generous single servings of this delicious legume, in the range of up to 1 cup.

Increased Chances for Satiety and Decreased Caloric Intake

We have been excited to see recent studies showing a positive relationship between garbanzo beans and weight management. The best single study we’ve seen in this regard has been a study that measured food satiety. “Food satiety” is the scientific term used to describe our satisfaction with food—how full it leaves us feeling, and how effective it is in eliminating our sense of hunger and appetite. Participants in a recent study were found to consume fewer snacks and fewer overall calories when supplementing their regular diet with garbanzo beans. They were also found to report greater food satiety, with experiences of reduced appetite and greater food satisfaction. We look forward to some large-scale studies in this area, and we expect to see a clear role being carved out for garbanzo beans in terms of weight loss and weight management. Along with their unusual combination of protein and fiber and their great ability to stabilize digestion, garbanzo beans also stand out as a food that is moderate in terms of calories. At approximately 250 calories per cup, we’re talking about 10-15% of daily calories. In return for this moderate calorie cost, we get 50% of the DV for fiber and 29% of the DV for protein. Those nutrient amounts are great trade-offs for anyone struggling with weight loss or weight management.

Description

Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, Bengal grams, and Egyptian peas) have a delicious nutlike taste and buttery texture. They provide a concentrated source of protein that can be enjoyed year-round and are available either dried or canned. The Latin name for garbanzo beans, Cicer arietinum, means “small ram,” reflecting the unique shape of this legume that somewhat resembles a ram’s head.

Garbanzos have a delicious nutlike taste and a texture that is buttery, yet somewhat starchy and pasty. A very versatile legume, they are a noted ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, falafels and curries.

There are two basic types of garbanzo beans. Most commonly seen at salad bars and in canned products are the “kabuli-type.” These beans are cream-colored or sometimes whitish in color, fairly uniform and rounded in shape, and about twice as large as the second “desi-type.” In addition to being much smaller, desi-type beans are darker (light tan to black in color) and more irregular in shape. From a botanical standpoint, the desi-type beans also have a thicker seed coat (the seed coat is the protective outermost layer of the bean). While kabuli-type beans are the ones we are accustomed to finding in U.S. salad bars and grocery stores, they actually represent only 10-20% of the garbanzo beans consumed worldwide, where the vast majority of garbanzos are desi-type beans. There are great health benefits from both types of garbanzos. However, in the case of some nutrients—including some antioxidant nutrients like quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin—desi-type beans provide more concentrated nutrient amounts since these nutrients are found in the seed coat and this seed coat is thicker in desi-type beans.

History

Garbanzo beans originated in the Middle East, the region of the world whose varied food cultures still heavily rely upon this high protein legume. The first record of garbanzo beans being consumed dates back about seven thousand years. They were first cultivated around approximately 3000 BC. Their cultivation began in the Mediterranean basin and subsequently spread to India and Ethiopia.

Garbanzo beans were grown by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and were very popular among these cultures. During the 16th century, garbanzo beans were brought to other subtropical regions of the world by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers as well as Indians who emigrated to other countries. Today, the main commercial producers of garbanzos are India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.

How to Select and Store

Dried garbanzos are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the garbanzo beans are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure maximum freshness. Whether purchasing garbanzo beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.

Canned garbanzo beans can be found in most supermarkets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, canning does less damage to many of the key nutrients found in garbanzo beans. For example, many people rely on garbanzo beans (and other legumes) for protein and fiber in their daily diet, and canning only lowers the amount of these nutrients by about 15%. Many of the B vitamins hold up well in canned garbanzo beans, and some actually show up in higher concentrations in canned versus non-canned versions. An important exception here is folate, which is decreased by about 40-45% during canning. (If you are depending on your garbanzo beans for this important B vitamin, you will want to consider purchasing dry garbanzo beans and cooking them yourself.) Canning will generally lower the nutrient content of food since long cooking time and/or high heats are often involved. The nutritional impact of canning on vegetables can be extremely high since vegetables are best cooked very lightly for a very short period of time. Legumes like garbanzo beans are different than vegetables, however, since they require a long time to cook whether they are canned or cooked by you at home from the dry version. While canned garbanzo beans may be more convenient, there is a concern about the BPA that is used in the lining of many canned foods. Some manufacturers do not use BPA-lined cans and it is worth seeking these out. To find out if the cans of your favorite canned beans are lined with BPA, you will need to contact the manufacturer. (For more on BPA, see this article.) Also when it comes to canned garbanzo beans, we would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. Once you remove the beans from the can, place them in a strainer and rinse them thoroughly for one minute.

If purchasing chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, more generally available in ethnic food stores, make sure that it is made from beans that have been cooked since in their raw form, they contain a substance that is hard to digest and can produce flatulence.

Store dried garbanzo beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase garbanzo beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked garbanzo beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Garbanzo Beans

Before washing garbanzos, you should spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones, debris or damaged beans. After this process, place them in a strainer, and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.

To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, garbanzo beans should be presoaked There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take pan off the heat, cover and allow it to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the garbanzos in water for a predetermined period of time.

Based on research studies that we’ve seen about the soaking of garbanzo beans, we recommend a soaking period of at least 4 hours. Several potentially desirable chemical changes can take place during this 4-hour soaking period. First, there can be a reduction in the beans’ raffinose-type oligosaccharides, and this reduction may result in fewer problems with flatulence when the beans are eventually consumed. Second, some of the phytase enzymes in the beans may become activated and help to transform some of the phytic acid found in the beans. When phytic acid gets converted into other substances, it is less likely to bind together with other nutrients and reduce their absorption.

Finally, presoaking of the beans will reduce the time required for cooking. On average, four hours of soaking reduces cooking time by approximately 25%. This reduced cooking time can mean less loss of water-soluble nutrients due to reduced time of exposure to heat and water.

Four hours appears to be a sufficient amount of soaking time to produce the desirable type of changes described above. However, longer periods of soaking do not appear to be harmful, and they may be more convenient. For example, overnight soaking will make sense for many people. In this situation, we recommend placing the garbanzo beans (in their pan with water) in the refrigerator during the overnight period. About 8 hours would be a typical time period for overnight soaking. Before cooking, regardless of method, skim off the any skins that floated to the surface, drain the soaking liquid, and then rinse them with clean water.

We would like to make one further note about the preparation of garbanzo beans, and this note involves fermentation. In culinary practices throughout the world, garbanzo beans are often fermented prior to consumption, and research studies show fermentation to be a safe and desirable step that can add to the nourishment provided by the beans. However, most individuals in the U.S. are not familiar with the practice of fermentation in home cooking, and they are equally unaccustomed to the tastes and textures of fermented foods, including fermented garbanzo beans. Since factors like pH (degree of acidity) can greatly influence the success of fermentation, and because unwanted microorganisms can sometimes be present at the time of fermentation, we do not recommend fermenting your beans without some prior training and experience in this area of cooking. If you are interested in this area, you may want to visit the following website:

http://www.eden-foundation.org/project/ferment.html

On this site, you will find a link to the graduate thesis on food fermentation written by Peter Sahlin at the Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Center for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Lund Institute of Technology at Lund University in Lund, Sweden.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Garbanzo Beans

To cook the garbanzo beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried garbanzo beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the legumes. Bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, skim it off during the simmering process. Garbanzo beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method. If the beans are still hard and no more water remains, add 1 cup of hot water and continue to cook until soft.

If you are running short on time, you can always use canned beans in your recipes. If the garbanzo beans have been packaged with salt or other additives, simply rinse them after opening the can to remove these unnecessary additions. Canned beans need to only be heated briefly for hot recipes while they can be used as is for salads or prepared cold dishes like hummus.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Puree garbanzo beans, olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini and lemon juice to make a quick and easy hummus spread.
  • Sprinkle garbanzo beans with your favorite spices and herbs and eat as a snack.
  • Add garbanzo beans to your green salads.
  • Make a Middle Eastern-inspired pasta dish by adding garbanzo beans to penne mixed with olive oil, feta cheese and fresh oregano.
  • Simmer cooked garbanzo beans in a sauce of tomato paste, curry spices, and chopped walnuts and serve this dahl-type dish with brown rice.
  • Adding garbanzo beans to your vegetable soup will enhance its taste, texture and nutritional content.

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Garbanzo Beans

  • 15-Minute Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad
  • 5-Minute Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad
  • 5-Minute Garbanzo Beans with Turmeric
  • Greek Salad
  • Healthy Veggie Salad
  • Mediterranean Baby Spinach Salad
  • Mediterranean-Style Salad
  • Curried Mustard Greens & Garbanzo Beans with Sweet Potatoes
  • Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans
  • Fresh Minted Garbanzo Salad
  • Garlic Dip with Crudites

Individual Concerns

Purines are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called “gout” and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as garbanzo beans. Yet, recent research has suggested that purines from meat and fish increase risk of gout, while purines from plant foods fail to change the risk. For more on this subject, please see “What are purines and in which foods are they found?”

Nutritional Profile

Both the seed coat (outer layer) and cotyledon (large main inner portion) of garbanzo beans contain a wealth of phytonutrients. The outer seed coat can be concentrated in flavonoids, including quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin. The interior of the beans is typically rich in ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vanillic acid. All of these phytonutrients function as antioxidants, and many also function as anti-inflammatory nutrients. Garbanzo beans are an excellent source of sulfite-detoxifying molybdenum and energy-producing manganese. They are also a very good source of heart-healthy folate and a good source of muscle-building protein, digestive-supportive dietary fiber, antioxidant-promoting copper, and energy-producing phosphorus and iron. The fiber in garbanzo beanss is mostly insoluble, and it has been shown to undergo conversion into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the large intestine and provide support for our digestive tract in that way.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Garbanzo beans.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Garbanzo Beans
1.00 cup cooked
164.00 grams
268.96 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
molybdenum 123.00 mcg 164.0 11.0 excellent
manganese 1.69 mg 84.5 5.7 excellent
folate 282.08 mcg 70.5 4.7 very good
fiber 12.46 g 49.8 3.3 good
tryptophan 0.14 g 43.8 2.9 good
protein 14.53 g 29.1 1.9 good
copper 0.58 mg 29.0 1.9 good
phosphorus 275.52 mg 27.6 1.8 good
iron 4.74 mg 26.3 1.8 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
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