If you’ve ever ordered hummus and pita at a Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant, you know that chickpeas are delicious. But did you also know they also offer a lot of health benefits?
Chickpeas, which are often called garbanzo beans, are part of the legume family and have been grown in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years. If you are someone who has in the past or is currently following a vegetarian diet, you have probably eaten your fair share of chickpeas as they are an excellent source of protein.
Here are some other reasons you may want to start eating more chickpeas.
1. Loaded with Nutrients
Chickpeas have an impressive nutrition profile while at the same time being relatively low in fat and calories. They are an excellent source of fiber, iron, folate, manganese, magnesium and copper. And again, boasting a decent amount of protein, they make an excellent meat replacement.
2. Help Control Appetite and Manage Weight
Since chickpeas boast so much protein and fiber, they may help keep your appetite in check. Fiber and protein work synergistically to slow the rate of digestion, which in turn helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Protein has also been shown to increase the levels of appetite-reducing hormones in the body. This combination may help with your weight loss goals.
In one study, people who ate chickpeas regularly were 53% less likely to be obese and had a lower body mass index and weight circumference compared to those who didn’t eat chickpeas.
Another study published in the 2016 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate at least one serving of legumes, such as chickpeas, every day lost on average 25% more weight than those who did not consume legumes.
3. Improve Gut Health
Because they are full of soluble fiber, chickpeas can aid digestion and improve gut health in a few different ways. First, fiber helps keep you regular, so waste is able to be eliminated without toxic buildup.
Second, soluble fiber has been shown to increase the number of healthy gut bacteria in your gut, preventing an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. This can help improve certain digestive conditions such as IBS and colon cancer.
If you want to improve your gut health, including more chickpeas in your diet is certainly worth a try.
4. Excellent for Heart Health
As mentioned earlier, chickpeas are an excellent source of several minerals such as magnesium and potassium, both of which have been studied for their potential to boost heart health.
Potassium is an important nutrient for preventing high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, the soluble fiber in chickpeas has been shown to help reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which may also prevent heart disease.
In one 12-week study, the 45 people who ate 728 grams of chickpeas each week significantly reduced their total cholesterol levels by an average of almost 16 mg/dL.
5. Possible Cancer Prevention
Earlier I mentioned that the soluble fiber in chickpeas may help prevent against colon cancer. But there are other certain types of cancer that may be prevented by eating chickpeas.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of saponins, which are plant compounds that may help prevent the development of certain cancers and inhibiting tumor growth.
And finally, chickpeas are a source of B vitamins, which may be responsible for reducing your risk of developing breast and lung cancer, according to some studies.
6. Support Blood Sugar Control
Chickpeas can help you manage your blood sugar levels in a couple of different ways. To start, they have a fairly low glycemic index (GI), so after eating a meal with a healthy serving of chickpeas, your blood is less likely to rise quickly.
Second, fiber and protein are both known for their role in blood sugar regulation, and as we know, chickpeas are an excellent source of both.
Several studies have shown chickpeas ability to control blood sugar levels. In fact, one study revealed that chickpea consumption reduced the overall risk of developing diabetes, thank to their blood-sugar-lowering effects.
The bottom line is, chickpeas are an incredibly nutritious food, loaded with important vitamins, minerals, protein and soluble fiber. By eating more of these delicious legumes, you may be able to manage your weight and prevent certain disease like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
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