Garbanzo beans, often called chickpeas, are part of the legume family, which includes soy beans, navy beans, kidney beans and many other types of nuts and beans. They are the most consumed legume in the world, according to the University of Arizona. For some people, however, garbanzo beans can cause gas -- a common cause of stomach cramps. Cramps caused by gas are not usually severe and typically go away fairly quickly. However, stomach cramps that are severe or occur persistently could be the sign of more serious problem. Consult a doctor if this is the case.
Garbanzo beans, and beans in general, are high in fiber. One cup of cooked garbanzo beans contains about 12 grams of fiber. Fiber is beneficial for your digestive tract, but it can also cause gas. Garbanzo beans also contain raffinose -- a sugar found in many members of the legume family. Human beings lack the enzyme to digest raffinose, so it gets passed down to the bacteria in the large intestine to be broken down -- a process that creates gas in some people. Stomach cramps due solely to gas often dissipate after passing gas or having a bowel movement.
Gas is a common cause of stomach cramps, but they could possibly be due to food poisoning after eating contaminated garbanzo beans. Mild stomach cramps may be the only sign of food poisoning, but often the cramps are more severe than gas cramps and are accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting. A more severe case of food poisoning may lead to weakness. If your stomach cramps last for more than one to two hours or are accompanied by other symptoms common to food poisoning, seek immediate medical attention.
An allergy to garbanzo beans can also cause stomach cramps. Although food allergies are triggered by the immune system, not the digestive system, digestive-related problems can still occur. In addition to stomach cramps, you might also experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Additional symptoms typical of allergic reactions -- such as hives, itching of the mouth or a tingling sensation around the mouth -- are also common with food allergies. Although garbanzo beans are not a common cause of food allergies, they are in the same family as soy beans and peanuts -- both of which are common triggers. Consult a doctor if you suspect a food allergy.
Mild stomach cramps caused by gas may be prevented by either avoiding garbanzo beans or taking a supplement that reduces gas in your intestines. A supplement that contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase can help break down raffinose, reducing gas and possibly preventing stomach cramps. Severe stomach cramps or those that occur when you eat other foods could be the sign of an underlying digestive problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Talk to your doctor if your stomach cramps are bothersome or occur consistently.
Is This an Emergency?
- Unviersity of Arizona Fresh Produce Safety: Garbanzo Beans
- Cleveland Clinic: Special Diets For Food Allergies
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans, Bengal Gram), Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt
- Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf: Raffinose
- PubMed Health: Food Poisoning
- Food Allergy Research & Education: Food Allergy -- Symptoms
- Food Allergy Research & Education: Food Allergy -- Allergens