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Chickpeas: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Be it India or Spain, the name chana, chickpea or garbanzo beans is not unheard of. Chickpea is scientifically known as Cicer arietinum. It belongs to the family Fabaceae, the plants belonging to this family are also called “legumes”. Chickpeas are one of the highly nutritious legumes known to impart a delicious taste. There are two main types of chickpea varieties- Kabuli and Desi. Additionally, intermediate varieties with pea-shaped seeds are recognised in India. The Desi variety is mostly grown in Africa and Asia, while the Kabuli variety is widely grown in North Africa, West Asia, Europe and North America. Globally, chickpeas are consumed in different forms. Hummus, a very popular dip/spread is also made from chickpeas and has a high content of protein, vitamins, minerals, folate, etc. In Africa and Asia, it is used in soups, stews, salads or consumed boiled, roasted or salted.1,2 The chickpeas are good source of dietary fibre, are cholesterol-free and full of vitamins and minerals and provide several benefits. 

chickpea benefits

Nutritional Value of Chickpea: 

Chickpeas contain various nutritional components that are given as follows. They are rich in a variety of compounds, like: vitamins, proteins, amino acids, prebiotic-carbohydrates and micronutrients. 

Nutritional components Value per 100g 
Total fat 6.04 g 
Total carbohydrate 62.95 g 
Dietary fibre 17.4 g 
Total sugars 10.7 g 
Protein 20.47 g 
Energy 378 Kcal 
Iron 4.31 mg 
Calcium 57 mg 
Magnesium 79 mg 
Phosphorus 252 mg 
Potassium 718 mg 
Sodium  24 mg 
Zinc  2.76 mg 
Copper  0.656 mg 
Manganese  21.306 mg 
Vitamin C 4.0 mg 
Folate 557 micrograms 
Niacin 1.541 mg 
Pantothenic acid 1.58 mg 
Vitamin A 67 IU 
Vitamin K 9.0 micrograms 
Vitamin E 0.82 mg 
Polyunsaturated lipids 2.73 g 
Monounsaturated lipids 1.37 g 

Table 1: Nutritional value of chickpeas (dry)3 

I may have some great news for all the vegans and vegetarians. Chickpeas might be a fantastic addition to your diet because they are a complete protein source. This means they provide all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need to function optimally. They may offer a nourishing and delicious option to help you maintain a well-balanced diet without relying on animal-based sources.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Chickpeas: 

Scientific literature has found that the consumption of chickpeas shows numerous properties as those mentioned below which may be helpful: 

  • They may have antioxidant properties. 
  • They may act as an analgesic. 
  • They might have antibacterial properties. 
  • They might have antifungal action. 
  • They may carry out anti-inflammatory functions. 
  • They may show anticancer properties.4 

From my understanding, chickpeas might be a nutritional powerhouse, brimming with vitamins and minerals. They contain choline, which might support brain and nervous system function.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Chickpeas for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of chickpeas are described as follows: 

1. Potential uses of chickpeas for weight control  

In general, diets high in fibre, moderate in protein and low in glycemic index are good for weight control. As per the NHANES data set 2003-2010, people who consumed chickpeas were 53% less likely to be obese than the non-consumers. Additionally, they had a lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than the non-consumers. This may indicate that the consumption of chickpeas may help in controlling body weight.3 

2. Potential uses of chickpeas for managing blood glucose 

Chickpeas have a low glycemic index that may help improve diabetes. Zafar et al. conducted a study in 2017 to assess the effect of chickpea consumption on excessive blood glucose in 12 young healthy females. it was found that women who were given chickpeas (200g) had 29-36% reduction in blood glucose concentration. This may indicate that consumption of chickpeas may help in managing blood glucose.5 

3. Potential uses of chickpeas for maintaining lipid profile 

Chickpeas have a high amount of protein and dietary fibre, anti-nutrients like tannins and enzyme inhibitors which may help in correcting an abnormal lipid profile. Pittaway et al. conducted a controlled dietary intervention in 2006 to assess the effect of chickpeas and wheat-supplemented diet on lipid profile. In this study, five-week diet supplementation with chickpeas showed a reduction in low density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol. This may indicate that the consumption of chickpeas may help in correcting an abnormal lipid profile.3,6 

4. Potential uses of chickpeas for cancer management 

Consumption of chickpeas results in the production of butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid reported to suppress cell proliferation, induce apoptosis and reduce the risk of colorectal cancers. Murillo et al. conducted a study in 2004 on rats supplemented with chickpea flour, results showed 64% suppression of a colon-specific carcinogen in rats. Therefore, there is a possibility that the consumption of chickpeas can help avoid the occurrence of colorectal cancers. However, more human studies are needed to support these claims.7 

5. Potential uses of chickpeas on age-related macular degeneration 

Age-related macular degeneration leads to age-related loss of vision. Chickpeas are a good source of carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein, which may help manage age-related vision loss. However, there are not enough studies yet to support these claims.2 

6. Other potential uses of chickpeas 

  • They have anti-bacterial, anti-ulcerative and anti-fungal properties. 
  • It may help in making bones stronger. 
  • May help improve brain health. 
  • May help in preventing iron deficiency.1 
  • It may improve bowel function and satiation.8 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of chickpeas in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of chickpeas on human health.  

I may advise you that incorporating chickpeas into your diet might help with constipation. Their high fibre content might promote optimal gastrointestinal health. Thus, by including chickpeas in your meals, you may enjoy the added benefit of keeping your gut in excellent condition.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Also Read: Can You Freeze Hummus? Your Guide To Extending Its Shelf Life

How to Use Chickpeas? 

Chickpeas can be used in the following ways: 

  • Chickpeas are consumed in salted, boiled or roasted forms. They can also be taken in salads, soups or stews. 
  • Split chickpeas are used to make dal, or they are grounded to make chickpea flour which is used to prepare several snacks. 
  • Hummus, is a spread or dip made of chickpeas, which is widely consumed.3 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Side-Effects of Chickpeas: 

A few side-effects related to the consumption of chickpeas include: 

  • Excess consumption of chickpeas may enhance allergies in sensitive individuals.9 
  • Due to the presence of anti-nutritional compounds like lectins, phytic acid, protease inhibitors, nutrient utilization can get impaired in some individuals.9 
  • Overeating chickpeas can result in stomach pain and flatulence.10 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to chickpeas, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Precautions to take with chickpeas: 

Eating chickpeas is healthy if taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed while consuming chickpeas. Few of the important precautions are as follows: 

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly and children should avoid eating chickpeas in excess. 
  • Individulas sensitive to chickpeas may react adversely and this should be considered while consuming them. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is a lack of data regarding the interaction of chickpeas with other drugs. However, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of chickpeas with other drugs. Kindly follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking. 

Also Read: Cranberry Beans: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the different varieties of chickpeas? 

Chickpeas come in two varieties- desi and kabuli. Desi variety has a thick seed coat, while the seed coat in the kabuli variety is thinner.2

2) What is the scientific name of chickpeas? 

Chickpea is scientifically known as Cicer arietinum

3) What is hummus? 

It is a type of dip or spread made from chickpeas.2 

4) Can chickpeas help manage age-related macular degeneration? 

Chickpeas are rich in carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which may help in managing age-related macular degeneration. However, it is advised to consult a doctor for a proper treatment and not consider consumption of chickpeas as an alternative to modern medicine. 

5) Can chickpeas help in weight management? 

Yes. Diets which are high in fibre, moderate in protein and low in glycemic index are good for weight control, and thus chickpeas may help.3 

References: 

  1. Sahal, A. (2022) The unbelievable nutritional benefits of chickpeas!, PharmEasy Blog. Available at: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/the-unbelievable-nutritional-benefits-of-chickpeas/ (Accessed: November 16, 2022).  
  1. Jukanti, A., Gaur, P., Gowda, C., & Chibbar, R. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): A review. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(S1), S11-S26. doi:10.1017/S0007114512000797. Available from: 

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/nutritional-quality-and-health-benefits-of-chickpea-cicer-arietinum-l-a-review/BCD8920297E987AAABBC12BFF90EB0CF

  1. Wallace TC, Murray R, Zelman KM. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 29;8(12):766. doi: 10.3390/nu8120766. PMID: 27916819; PMCID: PMC5188421. Available at:  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188421/

  1. Karla et al. Technological properties of chickpea (Cicer arietinum): Production of snacks and health benefits related to type-2 diabetes. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety.2021. Available at: 

https://ift.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1541-4337.12762

  1. Zafar TA, Kabir Y. Chickpeas suppress postprandial blood glucose concentration, and appetite and reduce energy intake at the next meal. J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Mar;54(4):987-994. doi: 10.1007/s13197-016-2422-6. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 28303049; PMCID: PMC5336455.Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5336455/#:~:text=The%20results%20suggest%20a%20reduction,respectively%20compared%20to%20white%20bread. 
  1. Pittaway JK, Ahuja KD, Cehun M, Chronopoulos A, Robertson IK, Nestel PJ, Ball MJ. Dietary supplementation with chickpeas for at least 5 weeks results in small but significant reductions in serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterols in adult women and men. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(6):512-8. doi: 10.1159/000098143. Epub 2006 Dec 21. PMID: 17191025. Available at: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17191025/

  1. Murillo, G.; Choi, J.K.; Vioque, J.; Pan, O. Efficacy of garbanzo and soybean flour in suppression of aberrant crypt foci in the colons of CF-1 mice. Anticancer Res. 2004, 24, 3049–3056. Available at:  

https://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/24/5A/3049.long

  1. Catherine et al. Chickpea supplementation in an Australian diet affects food choice, satiety and bowel health,Appetite,Volume 54, Issue 2,2010. Pages 282-288,ISSN 0195-6663. 

Available at: 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666309006734?via%3Dihub

  1. Gupta RK, Gupta K, Sharma A, Das M, Ansari IA, Dwivedi PD. Health Risks and Benefits of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) Consumption. J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Jan 11;65(1):6-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b02629. Epub 2016 Dec 23. PMID: 27779388. Available at: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27779388/

  1. Singh, D.R. (2022) Black Chana: Uses, benefits, side effects by dr. Rajeev Singh, PharmEasy Blog. Available at: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/ayurved-uses-benefits-side-effects-of-black-chana/ (Accessed: November 16, 2022).  

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