Seven Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas make a delicious and nutritious addition to many recipes, including soups, stews, and salads. These tasty pulses are rapidly becoming more popular in the West because of their many health advantages, including protein, vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, calcium and folate. Chickpeas can assist with many different health problems, for example, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Spanish explorers originally brought chickpeas to Europe from the Middle East, where they were enjoyed in several recipes. The Italians also liked the small beans with their nutty taste and included them in the Mediterranean diet. They soon discovered that these foods were nutritious as well as flavourful, and even recommended that them for sick people, because of their healing qualities.
Umberto Eco, the famous Italian author, even attributes legumes with creating a much healthier, more robust population. He writes in The New York Times that in the 10th century, most of the working classes were thin, pale and sickly, because they hardly ate any meat and their diet lacked nutrients. Once they started cultivating legumes, they became much more robust because their new diet contained so many benefits.
Here are seven health benefits of chickpeas.
At least two studies show that eating chickpeas can assist people with weight loss. A recent Canadian study of twenty-one clinical trials of 940 people showed that they lost weight simply by eating a single serving of pulses each day!1. Pulses contain a lot of fibre so adding them to a meal increases the feeling of fullness, causing people to stop eating more quickly.
A 2010 study tested forty-two people over 12 weeks to see if eating chickpeas helped them lose weight. 2. It did, but when they returned to their regular diet, they became fatter, because the chickpeas assisted them to satiate their appetite.
The high fibre content of chickpeas is also good for the heart. The soluble fibre in chickpeas assists in lowering bad cholesterol. A US study of 10,000 adults over nineteen years showed that the participants who ate the most fibre had a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. 3.
Chickpeas also contain folic acid which helps to reduce blood glucose levels. This may also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The potassium content of chickpeas also helps to lower blood pressure.
Many dieticians recommend eating chickpeas to help prevent diabetes, because chickpeas have a low glycaemic index. The GI of a food measures how quickly a food causes sugar levels to rise. Chickpeas help to regulate blood sugar levels by raising them very slowly.
Many women suffer from the annoying symptoms of PMS every month before they reach menopause. These annoying problems can include mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness, and depression. The Vitamin B and manganese contained in chickpeas can assist with all these problems. The manganese contained in chickpeas also helps women to battle the water retention and bloating associated with PMS.
Chickpeas are also recommended for menopause. Women often have low levels of estrogen when they go through ‘the change of life,’ causing distressing symptoms, such as hot flushes and mood swings. Chickpeas contain phytoestrogens, a natural compound that can raise the amounts of estrogen in the body in higher does.
There is some evidence that eating foods with this hormone-like substance helps women with menopause. A study published in the journal “Menopause” found that women who ate a diet rich in phytoestrogens showed an improvement in menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes and vaginal dryness.4. Women in cultures which eat predominantly plant-based foods often don’t suffer from menopausal symptoms, perhaps because there is a lot of phytoestrogen in their diet.
Sarcopenia is the medical name for the loss of muscle mass, strength and function in older people. Unfortunately, this process usually begins in the late 30s to early 40s, a young age! This often creates nasty problems, such as falls, fractures, weight gain, and even hypertension.
Luckily, chickpeas contain an amino acid called leucine which helps turn protein into muscle and assists in repairing and building muscle fibres. Although resistance-exercise is also necessary for aging muscles, it is a good idea to include chickpeas in your diet.
Chickpeas contain phytates, a natural compound which promotes healthy bones. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that people who eat a diet rich in phytates have stronger bones, as measured by the heel, spine and hip. 5.
A follow-up study showed that people who ate high amounts of phytates had lower risks of hip fractures as well as major fractures. Chickpeas also contain manganese, calcium and vitamin K which also help bone strength. This helps older people, especially those with osteoarthritis.
The Internet abounds with delicious chickpea recipes. Try some today!