Naturally high in fibre, chickpeas are rich in prebiotic fibres which feed the healthy bacteria in the digestive system. The fibre found in chickpeas is also 65% - 75% insoluble fibre – meaning it remains undigested until the final section of the large intestine (colon). Recent studies have shown that this fibre can be metabolised by bacteria in the colon to produce large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) – acetic, propionic and butyric acid predominately. These SCFAs provide fuel for the cells that line the wall of the intestine which in turn can lower the risk of colon problems.
Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
The glycaemic index of chickpeas is 28 meaning it falls into the category of low glycaemic foods. In 2004, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming a meal based on chickpeas instead of wheat leads to lower postprandial blood glucose levels at both 30 minutes and 60 minutes after eating, as well as lower insulin levels 120 minutes after consumption. This effect can lower the risk of developing diabetes, with the American Diabetes Association calling them a diabetic superfood.
Due to their high fibre content, chickpeas increase satiety, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Chickpeas are also very nutrient dense - foods that meet the body’s nutritional needs makes the craving for unhealthy snacks less likely. For example, they are extremely high in magnesium, with one portion providing a whopping 57% of your daily intake. Magnesium deficiency can lead to binging on unhealthy foods in your body's quest for this important mineral.
Chickpeas also contain a fat burning starch called “resistant starch” which not only aids weight loss, it feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut too.
Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension, and protect against heart disease in multiple ways. The high fibre and nutrient content is thought to be partly responsible, preventing overeating and the gain of excess weight. The fibre also works to create a gel like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids, helping to balance cholesterol and control hypertension.
They help to keep the arteries clear of plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels and lower the risk of cardiac arrest and stroke.
Folklore and history
According to the 1st century physician Dioscorides, chickpeas were traditionally used as a diuretic. He also said they would help women in labour, stimulate breastmilk and facilitate menstruation. In India they use a "sitz" bath - a bath of warm water where a few handfuls of the dried chickpea plant is added - to lessen menstrual pain.
The Spanish physician and botanist Andres Laguna reviewed the work of Dioscorides in the 1500's. He concluded that chickpea broth would be good to break up kidney stones - the 17th century physician and apothecary Nicholas Culpeper agreed. In his book "Complete Herbal", he wrote: "They have a cleansing facility whereby they break the stone in the kidneys".
A staple of African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, the wild version of chickpeas are only found in parts of south eastern Turkey and Syria. It is likely they were first domesticated there around 11,000 years ago and were part of a culture that first developed farming on the planet in the “Pre Pottery Neolithic Period”.
High in Protein and Fibre.
Vitamins: B1, B6, B9 (Folate)
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Selenium