Are Chickpeas Healthy? Here's What a Dietitian Says
Whether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these little beige-colored gems are showing up everywhere. From chickpea pizza to chickpea flour, there are limitless ways to create delicious meals with them, but are chickpeas healthy? Let's explore!
In one word, yes, chickpeas are healthy. In fact, chickpeas are nutrition all-stars! These edible seeds of flowering plants from the Fabaceae family are also known as legumes or pulses. Other nutrition power players in the same family include lentils, peas and peanuts. These plants are known for their high concentration of vegetarian protein and fiber as well as key vitamins and minerals. This is the nutrition for one half cup of cooked chickpeas:
- 135 calories
- 7g protein
- 2g fat
- 22g carbohydrates
- 6g fiber
- 141mg folate
- 2.4mg iron
- 239mg potassium
Chickpea Health Benefits
How do all of these nutrients contribute to good health? Let's start with fiber. One half cup of cooked chickpeas provides a whopping six grams of dietary fiber. Fiber is a nutrient proven to promote both gut and heart health. Looking for a satisfying meal? Add some chickpeas! The seven grams of protein you'll get from a half cup of cooked chickpeas can help prevent over-eating, making consuming them a great strategy for weight management. Another bonus: unlike meat, you won't get the saturated fat and cholesterol often associated with that protein. Beyond fiber and protein, chickpeas provide folate, a B vitamin necessary for protein metabolism and maintaining cell health and function. One half cup of canned chickpeas provides 141 micrograms of folate, helping you achieve about 35% of your daily needs (400 mcg/day). And let's not forget iron! This important mineral delivers oxygen to our brain and muscles. Chickpeas supply non-heme iron, so be sure consume with source of vitamin C to increase absorption.
Chickpeas, Canned vs. Dried
Great news! Both canned and dried varieties of chickpeas are nutritious! When purchasing canned varieties, look for those labeled "no salt added" or "low in sodium." Overall, beans are budget-friendly, but dried can often be less expensive and also more flavorful than canned. How? Because you can flavor them while they cook by adding aromatics such as onions, garlic and other herbs and spices. Intimidated to try it? We have this guide to show you how to cook dried beans.
Ways to Eat Chickpeas
Tessa Nguyen, RD, LDN, chef and dietitian agrees chickpeas are a great ingredient to stock in your kitchen. "They're a budget-friendly, versatile ingredient that can be used in many types of dishes and across diverse cuisines," she says. When it comes to enjoying them, Nguyen, is all about roasting! "I love roasting them with some olive oil and spices. They're a crunchy snack I love to eat as is, or pop them in my bag for an on-the-go snack." Beyond snacking, chickpeas can be incorporated into to many of the dishes you already enjoy. They're a great addition to salads, they're delicious when smashed on toast and are a delicious boost to soups, stews and chilis. Looking to satisfy your desire for something sweet? Chickpeas can help! Try our recipe for Dark Chocolate Hummus.