Are Chickpeas Good for Weight Loss?

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the most versatile of legumes. You can sprinkle them in salads, roast them for a crunchy snack, stir them into soups and stews, grind them up for falafel, blend them into smooth and creamy hummus, or you can enjoy the savory delight that is chickpea pasta.

Hummus is an excellent source of low-calorie protein. Credit: sveta_zarzamora/iStock/GettyImages

The mild, nutty flavor of chickpeas is complemented by a wide range of seasonings from the savory goodness of Middle Eastern garlic and olive oil to the spicy chiles of Latin American cooking. Equally at home in hot or cold dishes, chickpeas add flavor and texture.

Their value as a weight loss tool lies not only in their luscious, buttery taste and versatile nature, but in the amount of protein and fiber they provide.

Tips

Chickpeas are very good for weight loss because they provide protein and fiber, both of which help you feel full, and they do not contain saturated fats.

The Skinny on Weight Loss

Simply eating chickpeas will not make you lose weight because they are not magic beans. The most effective way to lose weight, according to the experts at the International Sports Sciences Association, is to do one of three things:

  • Decrease starchy carbohydrates
  • Increase your workouts in frequency, duration and intensity
  • Eat the right foods at the right time

Starchy carbohydrates are mostly made of sugar, with very little fiber or fat. This means they offer your body more glucose than it can use at one time, so it is converted into glycogen and stored. Eating complex carbohydrates such as chickpeas offers you energy with the added benefits of fiber and protein. Exercising more and timing your meals will also help achieve your weight loss goals.

Facts About Chickpeas

Chickpeas are mostly grown in India these days, but their existence has been recorded as far back in time as 3,500 B.C. in Turkey, and in France they have been known since 6,790 B.C., according to the experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Chickpeas are the most popular legume in the world, explain the botanical experts at Arizona State University (ASU). They do not grow wild and are cultivated in 50 different countries. The plants grow to be about 2 feet tall with delicate leaves and seed pods that contain two to three chickpeas each.

ASU also offers the interesting tidbit that in Germany after World War II, chickpeas, or garbanzo beans as they are also called, were ground and used to make a sort of coffee. Many cultures grind chickpeas to make a flour, which contains no gluten. In the Philippines, chickpeas are soaked and aged in a sweet syrup and served as dessert, while in India the leaves are also enjoyed in salads.

Protein in Chickpeas

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are called the building blocks of life because they can be broken down into components and reassembled in whatever configuration your body needs, like microscopic LEGOs.

According to a study published in the December 2016 issue of the journal Nutrients, while the protein in chickpeas does not contain a complete set of amino acids, pairing chickpeas with a whole grain does. Also, cooking chickpeas increases the amount of protein that your body can process.

Also mentioned in the study is that chickpeas benefits include the fact that plant-based proteins are an excellent choice for people trying to lose weight because they offer dense nutritional value without the calories and saturated fats of animal proteins.

Fiber in Chickpeas

Dietary fiber serves several purposes. Soluble fiber helps clear your bloodstream of low-density lipoproteins, or LDLs, which are familiarly known as bad cholesterol. Insoluble fiber is that which is not digested by your body, so it helps keep you feeling full and aids in healthy elimination. According to the food experts at Whole Foods, the fiber that chickpeas contain is 65 to 75 percent insoluble.

They also explain that the particular fiber in chickpeas that can be metabolized contains short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids, which include acetic, butyric and propionic acids, are essential in supporting the cells that line the walls of your intestines. The healthier these cells are, the more efficiently they can do their job, part of which is lowering your risk of health issues with your colon.

Nutrients in Chickpeas

Aside from fiber and protein, chickpeas also offer other nutritional benefits. According to Pennsylvania State University, one serving of chickpeas, which is about 1 cup, offers you 70.5 percent of your daily recommended intake of folate, 84 percent of manganese and 104 percent of molybdenum. They go on to explain that chickpeas can help regulate insulin, lower cholesterol and provide energy.

According to the nutrition enthusiasts at Body Ecology, folate is a powerful, water-soluble B-vitamin that helps protect your cells from becoming cancerous. Manganese activates the digestive enzymes that help your body metabolize amino acids, carbohydrates and cholesterol, while molybdenum is crucial in detoxifying your body of alcohol, drugs, mold and yeast.

Read more: Benefits of Chickpeas

Getting Your Chickpea On

Chickpeas are incredibly versatile. You can purchase them dried, frozen or canned and use them in a wide variety of ways, including:

  • Sprinkle them in salads
  • Stir them into soups and stews
  • Roast them for a crunchy snack
  • Grind them up for falafel
  • Blend them into creamy hummus

Dried chickpeas need to be soaked, advises Sarah Bond of Live Eat Learn. The best way to do this is to rinse the peas and then soak them for four to 12 hours. Drain and rinse them again and then simmer them in water or broth for one hour. Drain and use as you would canned chickpeas.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Roasting chickpeas turns them crisp, offering you a buttery, crunchy snack that is high in protein, fiber and nutrients. Preheat your oven to 400 F and coat your chickpeas with olive oil. You can do this with your hands, or with a large spoon. Toss them with sea salt and coarse black pepper and roast them on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or until they turn crisp and you can clearly smell them.

Experiment with other flavors such as chili powder, garlic and thyme or lemon pepper and cumin. Or try ginger and a dash of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. The neutral, buttery flavor of chickpeas lends itself to all sorts of flavors, so don't be afraid to get creative. They are excellent when served with kale chips as well.

Falafel and Hummus

Two of the most popular uses for chickpeas are falafel and hummus. Although they're similar and are often enjoyed together, they are not the same thing, explains the gourmands at Chowhound. Falafel are small fried patties made with coarsely ground chickpeas, while hummus is a smooth and creamy dip.

How to Make Falafel

To make falafel, use dried chickpeas that have been soaked, cooked and drained. You can put them in a blender or food processor or mash them with a fork. Add salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, minced onion, chopped parsley and just enough flour to hold the patties together. Some recipes, such as the one offered by Epicurious, include baking powder, but it is not strictly necessary.

If you are using canned chickpeas, you may need to add an egg to hold the patties together. Form them into small balls about the size of a plump date and then flatten them slightly.

Fry the chickpea patties in hot oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, turning them once. Cook them until they are crisp and golden brown on the outside and then drain them on paper towels for a crunchy fried treat that is still diet friendly.

How to Make Hummus

Hummus is even easier to make. Place chickpeas in a blender or food processor. Add a bit of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice and process or blend. Add tahini, which is basically sesame paste and some minced garlic.

Process or blend until you have a smooth, thick paste, adding more olive oil and tahini if it is too thick. Season to taste and enjoy with crudites for a rich and satisfying snack that provides the solid nutrition you require to lose weight safely and effectively.

Read more: How to Cook Chickpeas

Info About Black Chickpeas

According to the foodies at The Kitchn, black chickpeas are grown only in India and one part of Italy. They are smaller than the chickpeas with which you are probably familiar and rather than being chubby and round, they look like small pebbles with lots of sharp angles.

Black chickpeas nutrition is roughly equivalent to that of the rounder, lighter type, and they can be cooked using all of the same methods. Black chickpea hummus is an excellent Halloween offering when dressed with a little bright turmeric and green olive "eyes".

All About Chickpea Pasta

Chickpea pasta is a delicious and nutritious alternative to wheat pasta for anyone with celiac disease, a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or who just wants to avoid gluten. Made of ground chickpeas and either xanthan gum or tapioca for thickening, or just water, chickpea pasta can have as much as twice the protein and four times the fiber of wheat pasta, according to TIME magazine.

Among the most common mistakes people make when cooking gluten-free pasta, according to chef Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe, are not salting the water, crowding the pot, overcooking the pasta and leaving it to sit in the colander after draining it.

Chickpea pasta creates more foam than wheat pasta, so use a larger pot and fill it two-thirds full. Chef Lapine advises you to add at least 2 tablespoons of salt for every 1 pound of pasta. Stir the pasta as it cooks and either sauce it immediately or toss it with olive oil.

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