Senior Health

12/7/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Lori Zanteson, Environmental Nutrition

Chickpea charm springs from its amazing history, culinary versatility, and chickpea nutrition – which includes a variety of health benefits.

The folklore

Known by so many names around the world – Spanish garbanzo, Italian ceci, Indian gram – the name chickpea comes from “chich pease,” a version of the French name for this beloved legume. Its Latin botanical name, Cicer arietinum, which means “small ram,” is a nod to its resemblance to a ram’s head. This Middle East native dates back nearly 8,000 years ago and has been a staple relied upon as a beneficial food source and for its medicinal properties, treating warts, gout, and male infertility. Famously known for its role in culinary favorites like hummus and falafel, this versatile gem dishes up protein and fiber, along with other health benefits.

The facts

Chickpeas are part of the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae, along with black beans, peanuts, and lentils. The two main varieties are the larger round, cream-colored Kabuli-type, which is most common in the U.S., and the smaller and darker irregularly shaped Desi-type, used more often in the rest of the world, especially India and the Middle East.

A half-cup serving of cooked chickpeas contains 25% DV (DV=Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day) of dietary fiber and 15% DV of protein, as well as 42% DV of bone healthy manganese and 36% DV of cell-protecting folate, as well as a host of health promoting plant compounds.

The findings on chickpea nutrition

Chickpea nutrition offers a diversity of health benefits. The little powerhouses deliver protein, fiber, resistant starch, unsaturated fatty acids, and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They are shown to improve long-term glycemic response and to promote cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, lipid, and blood pressure levels, according to a review in the journal Nutrients (2020). A good source of dietary fiber and protein, chickpeas may also suppress appetite and help with healthy weight management, as well as have a positive impact on blood sugar levels (Journal of Food Science Technology, 2017).

How to appreciate their health benefits in foods

Select dried chickpeas, whether in bulk bins or packaged, that are moisture-free and whole, not cracked. Store in an airtight container up to a year in a cool, dark place. Dried chickpeas need to be soaked first, then covered with a couple inches of fresh water, brought to a boil, then simmered until tender, one to two hours. Canned and frozen chickpeas are also available as time-saving alternatives. Enjoy them in hummus – pureed with garlic, lemon, and tahini – on salads, in pasta and side dishes (such as spinach and chickpeas – espinacas de garbanzos), in soups and stews, or tossed with olive oil, sea salt, and spices. Roast or lightly fry them to use as a topping for salads. They make a healthy snack, too.

Find your favorite ways to savor the chickpea nutrition and charm to add the health benefits to your diet on a regular basic.

Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384.

© 2021 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff