If you’re a vegetarian or try to eat plant-based most of the time, you’re likely familiar with chickpeas. This high-protein legume is part of the ‘bean’ family and is a tasty component of many recipes. In just one cup, eating chickpeas offers your body 10 to 15 grams of protein, 9 to 12 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat, and 34 to 45 grams of carbohydrates. In short: they’re a powerhouse of nutrients.
They can be served soft or crunchy, salty or slightly sweet, and they still offer lots of vitamins and minerals. When you include chickpeas in your meal planning, you’ll give your body a wellness boost. Pay attention to how you feel after eating chickpeas. If you start to have any sort of stomach issues or other symptoms, consult your doctor. Though most people enjoy the taste and benefits of these bite-sized legumes, some may not digest them well.
From what creates addicting hummus to the perfect addition on top of a salad or warm bowl, chickpeas are a mostly healthy addition to your balanced diet. Here, we explore the side effects of eating chickpeas, including the good and the not-so-good. And for even more healthy tips be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
They help with digestion.
Fiber is an essential part of digestion, and yet, some people struggle to get enough of it every day. Luckily, chickpeas soar in this category, particularly with a high dose of soluble fiber called raffinose. This helps you to digest your food more slowly since the good kind of bacteria breaks down the raffinose. Also, bowel movements might be more comfortable and more frequent, according to one study about chickpeas.
Here are 9 Warning Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber.
They can help lower cholesterol.
For optimum vitality and energy, it’s essential to manage your cholesterol. How come? This stat can contribute to heart disease, obesity, strokes, and other serious illnesses. Because chickpeas are packed with soluble fiber, it improves our gut health and thus, lowers our cholesterol levels.
Along with chickpeas, here are 17 Foods That Lower Cholesterol.
They may lower your cancer risk.
Our bodies are impressive things, able to fight disease, create organs during pregnancy and protect us against viruses, environmental factors, and more. When we feed our body nutrient-rich foods, like eating chickpeas, it’s like giving ourselves a helping hand. In fact, when we consume chickpeas, our bodies produce ‘butyrate,’ a short-chain fatty acid. Some studies have shown this fatty acid can fight sick and/or dying cells. Another study goes a step further and says this could lower our overall risk for colorectal cancer!
They give you stronger bones.
Like many other legumes, chickpeas are packed with fiber, magnesium, and calcium. These present many wonders for our body, but one of the most significant is building stronger healthier bones.
Canned chickpeas should be eaten within a year.
As with anything that’s packaged from a manufacturer, canned chickpeas often contain an added preservative to ensure freshness and taste. Though this doesn’t pose a risk most of the time, in some cases, the metal could be problematic. One study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that sometimes, the cans or lids can rust and leak into our food. That’s why it’s best to store canned goods in a dry, dark place and consume them within one year of purchase.
Be careful of botulism.
Though the risk for contracting botulism from canned goods is very low, it’s still there, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Botulism is common when someone cans food at home, and the canning process wasn’t done properly. This serious illness is rare and is caused by bacteria that disrupt the nervous system. Sometimes, when canned foods aren’t stored properly, this bacteria can thrive, particularly in low-salt, low-oxygen, and low-sugar solutions, like chickpeas.
They’re only healthy if you don’t overdo it.
Since chickpeas are healthy, you can have as much as you’d like, right? Not so much. While they are a source of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc, they can also be turned into various snacks and meals that rack up the calories and fat components. Two examples are hummus and falafel, both of which should be eaten in moderation.
They may not be gluten-free—even if they say they are.
If you pay attention to the packaging on chickpeas in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and any other grocery store, you’ll notice ‘gluten-free’ isn’t printed on their label. But, since legumes don’t contain legumes or other sources of gluten, shouldn’t that messaging be apparent? The reason manufacturers shy away from this language is due to the risk of cross-contamination. Some preserves could be derived from grains, so to be on the safe side, they don’t call it a gluten-free food.
So if you find yourself with a can of chickpeas and you’re ready to reap the benefits of this nutritional superstar, check out our list of 29 Healthy Chickpea Recipes.