Cicer arietinum, more commonly known as chickpea or garbanzo bean, is an important component to vegetarian and vegan-based diets. Now, an important distinction to be aware of is the difference between pulses and legumes. Pulses are the edible seeds harvested from a legume plant which includes beans, lentils, and peas. A legume just refers to any plant of the Fabaceae family. Chickpea is grown all over the world and has been eaten since ancient times due to its high nutritional value.
Chickpea is a great source of fiber which is good for digestion and supporting a healthy gut microbiome. Chickpeas also have protein which is more easily digested than other pulses. They also contain the minerals iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus as well as a few other trace elements. Vitamins include B vitamins (B2, B5, B6), vitamin E, and the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
Traditionally, chickpea preparations were used to get rid of parasites and treat ailments such as throat problems, blood disorders, bronchitis, skin disease, and liver/gallbladder related problems. In modern times, chickpea can help support healthy cholesterol as well as blood sugar as it is a lower glycemic food. Another paper suggests people who consume chickpea and/or hummus (and other vegetables) are more than 50% more likely to have a healthier weight compared to people who don’t consume adequate vegetables. Chickpea also contains carotenoids that can support eye health, and butyrate which has anti-cancer effects.
Chickpea is commonly consumed in the diet as chickpea is commonly added to dishes or made into hummus. Side effects of consuming chickpeas can potentially be flatulence, potentially more so than other pulses due to its higher content of certain fiber. Chickpea does have some anti-nutrient components like many legumes which can bind to minerals, and this effect can be reduced or eliminated by soaking, cooking, or boiling before eating.
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Jukanti, A K et al. 2012. “Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): A Review.” The British Journal of Nutrition; 108(Suppl 1): S11-26. doi:10.1017/S0007114512000797
Harvard T.H. N.D. Chan School of Public Health. “Legumes and Pulses.” Retrieved Nov. 28, 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/legumes-pulses
Wallace, Taylor C et al. 2016. “The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus.” Nutrients; 8(12): 766. doi:10.3390/nu8120766