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Friday Feature - Chickpeas

Hummus, hummus hummus.... we all scream for hummus... ok I know that is not strictly how it goes, but do you know any sane person that doesn't love hummus....??

I LOVE Chickpeas every which way - roasted, in curries, in stews, sprinkled on salads, marinated, hummus - basically if it has got chickpeas in I am eating it.

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world and remain one of the most popular today across nearly every continent. Chickpeas have been a part of certain traditional diets for over 7,500 years! Chickpeas are still included in the diets of some of the healthiest populations living around the world today, including those eating traditional cuisines that stem from the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and African nations too. Second to the soybean, the chickpea is the next most widely grown and eaten bean in the world.

Chickpeas help to keep you full, boost digestion, keep blood sugar levels stable, increase protection against disease and more. Chickpeas are a potent package of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is why they are often included in many healing diets.

Tell me more about this amazing bean...

Chickpeas nutrition truly proves what an amazing superfood chickpeas really are! Just one cup serving of chickpeas contains:

268 calories

12.5 grams of dietary fiber

14.5 grams of protein

4.2 grams of fat

That same 1-cup serving also meets 70 percent of the daily value for folate and 26 percent of the DV for iron. It's also a good source of a number of other minerals including manganese, magnesium, zinc and copper, as well some other B-vitamins, including thiamine and vitamin B-6.

Here are the top six health benefits of chickpeas:

1. They help control blood sugar levels

Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a form of complex carbohydrate that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy. This is essential, as all carbohydrates are not created equal; some quickly raise blood sugar levels and lead to “spikes and dips” in energy (these are called simple or fast carbs), while others do the opposite and give us sustained fuel (these are called complex carbs).

Chickpeas includes starch, which is a slow burning carbohydrate that the body does not react to by suddenly spiking glucose in the blood.Unlike simple sugars- found in processed products like refined flour, white bread and pasta, soda, candy, and most other packaged foods- the starches found in chickpeas take an extended period of time to break down once consumed. The process of digesting and utilizing the glucose found in all chickpeas is drawn-out, which is extremely important for keeping your blood sugar levels regular throughout the day.

2. They keep you full and help with fat loss

Chickpeas are high in both protein and fiber, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking. Studies have shown that consuming fiber is correlated with having a lower body weight. These macronutrients work together to give us a feeling of being full after eating, while also helping to control our blood sugar levels and therefore maintaining our energy. The -feeling of satiety makes you less likely to snack on empty-calorie, processed junk foods between meals which can stall your weight loss. Chickpeas are even more filling if you pair them with other nutritious whole-foods, like vegetables or goat cheeses. As they are so low in calories but high in essential fiber and protein, they are a perfect food for those that need to lose fat and also for those who are watching calorie intake.

3. They improve digestion due to their high fibre content

Chickpeas are super high in fibre, with roughly 6-7 grams per half cup serving. Unfortunately the modern western diet leaves many people deficient in dietary fiber; in fact it’s believed that less than 5 percent of Americans get the daily recommended amount of dietary fiber that they need to consume through food each day. Fiber facilitates in healthy digestion by quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, helping to decrease symptoms of IBS and constipation. Fiber works by drawing fluids from the body and binding them to the bulk of forming stool, which contains toxins and waste that must be removed from the body. Fiber also helps to balance pH levels and bacteria within the gut, increasing healthy bacteria while also decreasing unhealthy bacteria. An imbalance in gut flora bacteria is often linked to many different digestive problems. The high amount of fiber in garbanzo beans is responsible for its filling effect and helps to improve digestion, but it does much more than this. Fiber aids in heart health, helps to control blood sugar levels, guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity, and more.

4. They help protect against heart disease and cancer

Chickpeas have been shown to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, to reduce hypertension, and to protect against heart disease in multiple ways. This may be partially due to the high amount of fiber found in chickpeas, which helps people to avoid overeating and gaining harmful excess weight, especially around the vital organs. Fiber works to create a gel-like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids, helping to balance cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber have been show to be important in helping to control and manage hypertension. Chickpeas help to keep the arteries clear from plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of cardiac arrest and stroke. In fact studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and to help balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.Consuming beans has also been shown in studies to have protective benefits against cancer, in particular colon cancer, due to their high fibre content, Garbanzo beans were demonstrated in studies to help stall cancerous cells from further forming. Chickpeas also keep the digestive system, including the colon, free from harmful bacteria and toxic build-up, they create a healthier overall environment where pH levels are balanced, inflammation is reduced and therefore it is thought cancer cells cannot proliferate like they can in an unhealthy environment.

5. They provide essential vitamins and minerals

Chickpeas boast high levels of iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and B vitamins, all of which are especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these essential nutrients due to avoiding animal products. Chickpeas are great source of folate, also called Vitamin B6. Folate is important for helping the body to effectively produce new cells as it plays a role in copying and synthesizing DNA.It also helps the body utilize other B Vitamins in addition to protein (in the form of amino acids). A deficiency in folate can contribute to anemia, poor immune function, and poor digestion; and for pregnant women, a deficiency can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Chickpeas also are high in zinc. Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a role in over 100 important enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc facilitates in bodily functions, helping to speed up wound healing, and helping with the formation of hemoglobin within the blood. When chickpeas are combined with a source of healthy fat, like olive oil for example which is the case with hummus, nutrient absorption is further increased. Additionally ladies, chickpeas are a good source of 3 nutrients that help to reduce common symptoms associated with PMS: magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B6.

6. They are a great source of plant based protien

Protein is an essential macro-nutrient that plays an important role in nearly every function in the body, from our vital organs, muscles, tissues and even hormone levels. Consuming enough healthy protein helps you tonaturally slow aging.Proteins that we acquire from our diet help to create hemoglobin and important antibodies, to control blood sugar levels, help with muscle building and maintenance, give us lasting energy, fight bacteria, make us feel full, and help to heal wounds and injuries too. Chickpea nutrition not only contains important protein- about 15 grams per cup of cooked beans- but also has many other nutrients and fiber too. Those who are most as risk for not consuming enough protein are children, vegans and vegetarians.Not eating adequate amounts of protein on a regular basis can result in muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems such as cataracts, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more. Because chickpeas are a completely plant-based source of vital protein, they are an excellent choice for non-meat eaters who need to be sure to consume enough of this macronutrient. Chickpeas are often eaten with grains or vegetables, for example in stews or in hummus that is eaten with pita bread; these foods luckily work together to make up a “complete protein”. This means they contain all of the building-blocks of protein, called essential amino acids, that are necessary for the body to acquire from food in order to use for body function and energy.

One of my favourite books is called Chickpea Flour does it All and it is full of alternative uses for Chickpeas. If you click on the link it will take you to Dolly and Oatmeal blog who is the author of this book.

In fact I love chickpeas so much, that I actually have a whole pintrest board of recipes for them - CLICK HERE

But after A LOT of deliberation - one of my all time best recipes for them is from Oh She Glows and is the best Vegan Caesar Salad around.

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