Garbanzo beans, commonly known as chickpeas, can considerably improve health when consumed regularly. In addition, cooking garbanzo beans is fun and easy.
Chickpea is a legume mostly popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It is a food with multiple possibilities in terms of health benefits and preparation. It is one of the main ingredients of hummus and falafel, two traditional dishes of the Middle East.
Usually, dried garbanzo beans are soaked, and then cooked in water before they could be eaten. But in developed countries, like the United States, this nutritional food can be easily found in canned form in food markets, which are pre-cooked and ready to be used. A consumer just needs to rinse and add them to food or salads.
Garbanzo Beans Nutrition and Health Benefits
Studies have linked regular consumption of pulses (part of the legume family) to various beneficial effects on the body such as better control of diabetes, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower risk of colorectal cancer. US dietary guidelines suggest also consumption of legumes several times a week. It is also advised by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) to consume mostly plant foods for the prevention of cancer. That is, a healthy should include a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains.
When it comes to Garbanzo beans, like all legumes, they are naturally rich in vegetable protein, several vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber. In addition, they are low in fat, and like all plant foods, they contain no bad cholesterol. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy their flavor and benefits. When cooking garbanzo beans, a smart option is to add some variety to make it pleasant for whole family. Chickpeas taste great, and can help in the prevention many medical conditions.
Cooking garbanzo beans can help prevent these conditions
Cardiovascular system. A study conducted on animals suffering from hypercholesterolemic (too high blood cholesterol) found that consumption of a diet containing chickpeas for 16 days led to a decrease in blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, compared to the control group. These researchers believe the legume could be part of foods recommended in people who are subject to high blood cholesterol. Although consumption of legumes in general brings benefits on the cardiovascular system, garbanzo beans are very special.
Bacterial flora of the colon. A study in animals has shown that following a diet containing chickpeas for a month resulted in increasing the number of bifidobacteria, beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. The beneficial effects of these bacteria include, for example, helping protect against colorectal cancer, decreasing activity of harmful bacteria, improving assimilation of certain nutrients such as calcium, and boosting the immune system. The effect of chickpeas on the growth of these beneficial bacteria, could among others, be explained by the presence of resistant starch. As its name suggests, this type of starch resists digestion and can help these microorganisms to grow easier in the intestinal tract. Although further studies are needed to verify to what extent this effect can be applied to humans.
Diabetes control. Some animal and human studies have indicated that consumption of chickpeas brought a glycemic response (its effects on blood sugar levels) lower than that caused by the foods made from wheat or casein from milk. This property makes it a beneficial food for people who have diabetes and need to avoid abnormal rise in blood sugar. One of these studies, however, observed that this effect did not seem to keep after six weeks of daily consumption of chickpeas in healthy people. Nevertheless, the researchers believe it is possible that this property is more sustainable in people who have diabetes, which is to be determined in future studies.
Dietary fiber. Legumes are all good sources of fiber. Dietary fiber, which is found only in plant products, is a group of substances that is not digested by the body. Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a good source of fiber. For instance, boiled or roasted garbanzo beans contain about 4 g per 1/2 cup serving. A diet rich in fiber from different sources is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and can help to control appetite by providing a faster satiety. That is, these beans are ideal for weight management.
Others: Traditionally, in certain countries chickpeas are consumed to prevent impotence in men (roasted garbanzo beans); stop diarrhea (cooked); wound care, to avoid infections (powder), and as a poultice against boils (powder).
Chickpeas are also used in herbal medicine for its many properties: energy, diuretic, urinary antiseptic, stomachic and anthelmintic. But these are traditional claims; there no medical studies to prove them. For recipe ideas, visit Garbanzo Beans Recipes