Did you know chickpeas are a seed? I just thought they were a bean like a kidney, pinto, or black bean but they’re seeds too. Each one of them are edible seeds known as pulses and they all belong to the legume family. Legumes are unique because they’re grown in pods. Other varieties include lentils and soybeans. Chickpeas are an impressive blend of nutrients, versatility, affordability, and sustainability.
Protein: Chickpeas are chocked full of protein. A 15 oz can provides 21g of protein. This tiny powerhouse of energy also contains:
- 21g of fiber
- 105mg of calcium
- 980mg of potassium
- 490 mcg of folate
Lowers saturated fat: Along with providing a compact dose of nutrients, chickpeas also help decrease intake of saturated fat.
Consumption of saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Adding chickpeas everyday can help lower that risk while offering up important nutrients your body needs.
Weight loss and glycemic control: Chickpeas have been shown to lower weight, waist circumference, and risk of type 2 diabetes. Their affect on glycemic control is one explanation. When paired with white bread (a high glycemic food), chickpeas were able to weaken the affect bread had on blood glucose. They are also known to curb carbohydrate absorption which decreases glycemic responses.
Chickpeas have a mild nutty taste allowing them to easily take on other flavors and multiple textures. A recipe adaptors dream. This ability allows the legume to fit into any meal of the day including snacks and desserts.
Chickpeas have been around since 3000 BC and are thought to have originated in the area around southern Turkey and neighboring Syria. Word of mouth made the pulse a staple in many dishes around the world.
Common dishes containing chickpeas are:
- Hummus: a spread made from mixing tahini with creamed chickpeas
- Falafel: mashed chickpeas shaped into patties or balls and then fried
- Desserts and more
There is a reason chickpeas are an abundant food source in developing countries.
They are cheap to produce, making them cheap to buy at the grocery store. Whether you purchase them dried, canned or frozen, you can get a lot of chickpea for little cost
Chickpeas, along with other legumes, are important in food crop systems because of their role in nitrogen fixation.
They’re able to take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that the plant can use.
Incorporating nitrogen and organic matter improves soil health for legumes and neighboring non-legume plants.
This helps reduce dependence on inorganic nitrogen fertilizers and boosts sustainability of cropping systems.