What's in a name?
The name chickpea comes from the Latin word cicer, part of the legume family Fabaceae. Chickpeas appear in the annals of history dating back to 3500 BCE in Turkey and 6790 BCE in France. This legume goes by other names as well. Garbanzo bean, a popular Spanish-derived name, and Bengal Gram in India.
[British Journal of Nutrition, 2012]1
Grown in over fifty countries across India, North Africa, Middle-east, the Americas, and Australia there are two types that are cultivated.
Desi- which produce pink flowers and a thick seed coat. Desi is grown mostly in India and produces most of the chickpeas eaten worldwide. Kabuli- produces a white flower and a think seed coat and is grown in the United States. [The Ecology of the Chickpea, 2017]2
Photo courtesy of My Favourite Pastime
The Best Bean in Town
Chickpeas are an inexpensive nutritional powerhouse. Rich in dietary fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and significant amounts of essential amino acids except for sulfur. By combining chickpeas with cereals and grains it becomes a complete protein an important macronutrient found in every cell in the body. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 42 percent DV[Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day] of dietary soluble fiber, 18 percent of iron for the blood, 21 percent of calcium for bones, 70 percent heart healthy folate, 10 grams muscle building protein.
1/4 c dry contains 180 cal, 10g protein, 3g fat, 30g carbohydrates, and 9g of fiber while
1/2 c canned contains 160 cal 10g protein, 2g fat, 26g carbohydrates, and 5g fiber.
[USDA, Food Data Central 2019]3
Information provided by USDA Food Data Central
The Better Bean for Better Health
Chickpeas are a good source of fiber as are many other beans or legumes. They've been associated with providing protection against several chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.[Harvard School of Public Health, 2021]4 According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016, legumes rich in fiber like chickpeas has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in obese patients was associated with 15 percent reduction in total cholesterol levels. This reduction potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Similar reduction I'm risk factors were also seen in patients with elevated blood pressure researchers associate this due to the heart healthy omega 3 (45.6
mg) and omega 6 fatty acids (1178 mg) they contain.
The chickpea can be found in grocery stores either dried or canned. Canned chickpeas retain much of their nutritional value in comparison to the dried and soaked version. When looking for canned varieties choose ones which are lower in sodium or have no additional salt added. Canned varieties do not need additional cooking and hold their shape in cooked or baked dishes.
[note: Canned chickpeas can bee strained and rinsed well to remove 40% of the sodium if low sodium or no salt varieties aren't available for purchase]
Photo courtesy of Epicurious.com
Chickpeas have a buttery texture and a slightly nutty flavor which can enhance recipes. Enjoy chickpeas cold in salads, cooked in soups and stews, ground and fried as falafel or pureed with the addition of tahini, garlic and olive to make a hummus spread. The drained liquid from canned varieties, known as Aquafaba, has similar properties to egg whites, and you can use it as an egg substitute in vegan cooking.
Recipe ideas and serving suggestions featuring chickpeas
Creamy Vegan Chickpea Pasta Sauce Serious Eats Chef DANIEL GRITZER
Chickpea and Carrot Salad Todays Dietitian Bryan Roof, RD, LDN