Chickpea Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

chickpeas nutrition facts and health benefits

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a type of legume that is full of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They are nutrient-dense, meaning they have lots of useful nutrients but are relatively low in calories. You'll find the versatile chickpea in many Mediterranean and Indian dishes, and it is a handy plant-based source of protein.

Chickpea Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (152g) of canned chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed.

  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 3.8g
  • Sodium: 322mg
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Fiber: 9.6g
  • Sugars: 6g
  • Protein: 10.7g

Carbs

Most of the calories in chickpeas come from carbohydrate. There are about 35 grams of carbs in a 1-cup serving. Most of the carbohydrate in chickpeas is fiber and starch, though there is a small amount of naturally occurring sugar in chickpeas.

The glycemic load for a 1-cup serving of chickpeas is estimated to be 23.

Fat

There is a small amount of fat in chickpeas. Most of it is polyunsaturated fat, which is considered to be a healthier form of fat. There are also small amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fat in chickpeas.

Protein

Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein, providing about 11 grams per 1-cup serving. Protein is important in maintaining a healthy immune system. It is also the building block of hair, skin, and nails and is used to help build muscle tissue.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chickpeas are a good source of vitamin B6 and folate (they provide about 14% of your daily needs of each in a 1-cup serving). You'll also get a healthy dose of vitamin C as well as the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Healthy minerals in chickpeas include manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron, magnesium, and smaller amounts of potassium, selenium, and calcium.

Health Benefits

With all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, chickpeas have a lot of health advantages.

Promotes Heart Health

Chickpeas are high in fiber, containing 16% of your daily needs in one half-cup serving. About one-third of the fiber in chickpeas is soluble fiber, making it a heart-healthy food. Studies have shown that people who eat fiber-rich diets typically maintain a healthier weight and have a reduced risk of heart disease.

May Help Prevent Some Cancers

Several of the nutrients and compounds in chickpeas may protect against certain kinds of cancer.

  • Fiber: Protective against colorectal cancer
  • Butyrate: Protective against colorectal cancer
  • Saponins: Protective against multiple types of cancer
  • B vitamins: Protective against breast and lung cancers 

Regulates Blood Sugar

Chickpeas, like other legumes, contain resistant starch that slows down the digestion of carbohydrates. Some resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine at all.

At least one study has shown that replacing more rapidly digested carbohydrates with legumes enhances glycemic control by improving insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.

Improves Colon Health

Consuming foods high in resistant starch like chickpeas may also improve the health of the digestive system by promoting healthy bowel flora.

Aids Weight Management

Foods that are high in fiber and protein can help you feel full and consume fewer calories overall. Research comparing chickpeas with white bread found that study subjects who consumed chickpeas had better glycemic control and suppressed appetite and calorie intake.

A review of research found that including pulses (certain legumes, including chickpeas) in a diet leads to a weight loss effect even when diets are not designed to restrict calories.

Allergies

Chickpeas are legumes, as are soybeans and peanuts (both of which are top allergens). Chickpea allergy is usually seen as a cross-reaction in people who already have a demonstrated allergy to soy, peas, lentils, or hazelnuts. If you have allergies to any of these foods, especially pea or lentil, or you experience any symptoms after consuming chickpeas, discuss your diet with your doctor to determine what is safe for you.

Adverse Effects

Like other beans and high-fiber foods, chickpeas may cause some intestinal symptoms, like gas. Adding fiber to your diet gradually can help prevent these symptoms. However, if you follow a low-FODMAP diet to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or another digestive condition, you likely need to avoid chickpeas.

Varieties

There are two varieties of chickpeas: the "blond" variety, which is sold mostly in the Middle East and North America, and the black chickpeas (also called desi) found in India, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.

You can also purchase chickpea flour (besan), which is often used in Indian curries as a thickener. This type of flour has half the carbohydrates of wheat flour and is fiber-rich and gluten-free.

Chana is the split kernel of the desi, or Bengal gram, chickpea. It has a sweet and earthy flavor and, when cooked, is about the size and shape of a corn kernel. It is one of the many legumes used to make dal, which forms the foundation of Indian cuisine.

Chickpeas are available dried as well as canned. While canned products are often convenient, they are higher in sodium than dried varieties. One can of chickpeas can contain upwards of 622mg sodium. To reduce up to 40% of the excess sodium, drain and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly in water.

Storage and Food Safety

Store dried chickpeas in a cool, dark place. Once opened, place them in a tightly closed container. Canned chickpeas can be stored in a pantry or cabinet and are good until the best-by date.

How to Prepare

If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them before cooking:

  • Pick through the package and remove any grit, pebble, or debris
  • Place beans in a bowl and cover with cold water, removing any skins or other items that float to the surface
  • Drain beans in a colander, then rinse under cold running water
  • Return beans to a bowl and cover with fresh cold water, about 3 cups to each cup of beans
  • Soak beans overnight
  • Before use, drain the beans through a colander, discarding the water

Or, save time by using a quick soaking method: 

  • Rinse and pick through the beans
  • Place beans in a saucepan and enough cool water to cover them by about 2 inches
  • Bring water to a boil and simmer for about 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover and soak for about 1 hour
  • Drain the beans and discard the water before use

Note that about 1/4 cup of dried beans yields 3/4 cups cooked. If you are using canned beans, simply drain and rinse before use.

Chickpeas can be used to add to salads, soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, greens, or ​as an addition to grain dishes. Combining pureed chickpeas with tahini yields hummus. Use hummus as a vegetable dip for a protein and fiber-full snack, or swap high-fat condiments (like mayonnaise) for hummus when making tuna or chicken salad.

Recipes

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