Chickpeas are the seeds that develop from the pod of Cicer arietinum, a plant native to the Mediterranean region. Its cultivation is believed to date back to 5,000 BC. C., making it one of the first legumes consumed by humans.
Beyond its gastronomic use, recent scientific evidence shows that chickpeas also have health benefits, since they are rich in antioxidants, minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins, such as B, C , E and K, among other nutrients. Here we review its properties:
They help lose weight
In addition to the great density of nutrients that chickpeas possess, their richness in dietary fiber is added, an ideal combination for people looking to control or lose weight.
This is because the nutrients provided by chickpeas act as natural energizers, leaving fatigue behind and allowing greater physical performance.
Fiber causes a greater feeling of satiety, extending the periods between meals while decreasing caloric intake.
good for digestion
The dietary fiber that we get from chickpeas is also useful for improving digestive processes, as it helps to:
- Increase the volume of stool.
- Improve the absorption of nutrients in the intestine.
- Regularize evacuations.
- Prevent cramps, constipation and bloating.
In addition, it has choline, an essential nutrient that plays an important role in the body’s anti-inflammatory action.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food can raise blood sugar.
Foods with a GI of 70 or more are considered “high”, if the GI is between 56 and 59 they are “moderate”, while if the GI is between 0 and 55 they are “low”.
Chickpeas have a GI of 30, so they fall into the latter category and are recommended foods for people with diabetes.
There are also clinical trials that revealed that foods based on chickpea flour can be beneficial for people with diabetes, since their contribution of dietary fiber helps keep blood glucose levels under control.
They protect the heart
Chickpeas are usually part of the diets recommended by experts to prevent cardiovascular problems.
Again, this is due to its richness in dietary fiber and the presence of Omega 3 fatty acids, which seem to help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
This is necessary to reduce the risk of conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks or strokes.
Due to their low sodium content, chickpeas are often linked to greater control over blood pressure levels, although the evidence supporting these effects is not significant.
As with other legumes or herbs, traditional medicine uses chickpeas as ingredients for different beauty treatments.
They have antioxidants, potassium and magnesium, nutrients necessary to improve the health of the skin, since they strengthen it, moisturize it and stimulate its elasticity. They also prevent signs of aging, such as the formation of wrinkles or fine lines.
To do this, a paste is prepared using chickpea flour, rose petals and milk. Once ready, the preparation is applied forming a mask, left to act for an hour and removed with warm water.
Its potassium content is also used to prevent hair loss, since this mineral is a natural vasodilator and seems to stimulate the blood supply to the scalp. However, the evidence supporting this benefit is scant.
Another very popular remedy consists of preparing a paste based on chickpeas and water, to massage and rinse the hair, and thus eliminate dandruff.
How to consume chickpeas?
If you get dried chickpeas, you will need to wash and soak them overnight before cooking. They are then peeled by pinching off the soft skin, and simmered until tender (this usually takes 2-2 ½ hours).
You can also get them canned, which doesn’t require extensive soaking or cooking, but be careful with these options as they tend to be high in sodium.
Once ready, you can use your chickpeas to prepare stews, soups, or salads. Another very common option is to crush them and mix them with olive oil, lemon, and spices, to prepare hummus.
You can also get their flour, which is a great substitute (partial or total) for wheat flour. It is ideal for preparing gluten-free dishes or to enhance the flavor of traditional preparations.
Chickpeas are highly nutritious foods and are safe for most people to eat.
However, certain adverse effects associated with its intake have been recorded. For example, its purine content (a compound that the body can convert to uric acid) is thought to promote the development of gallstones, kidney stones, and gout.
Due to its high fiber and starch content, chickpeas in excess can cause stomach pain and flatulence.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.