Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are part of the legume family.
While they have become more popular recently, chickpeas have been grown in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years.
Their nutty taste and grainy texture pairs well with several other foods and ingredients.
As a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, chickpeas may offer a variety of health benefits, such as improving digestion, aiding weight management and reducing the risk of several diseases.
Additionally, chickpeas are high in protein and make an excellent replacement for meat in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Here are evidence-based health benefits of chickpeas, as well as ways to incorporate them into your diet.
1. Packed With Nutrients
Chickpeas have an impressive nutrition profile.
They contain a moderate amount of calories, providing 46 calories per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. Approximately 67% of those calories are from carbs, while the rest comes from protein and a small amount of fat (1).
Chickpeas also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as a decent amount of fiber and protein.
2. May Help Keep Your Appetite Under Control
The protein and fiber in chickpeas may help keep your appetite under control.
Protein and fiber work synergistically to slow digestion, which helps promote fullness. In addition, protein may increase levels of appetite-reducing hormones in the body.
In fact, the filling effects of the protein and fiber in chickpeas may automatically lower your calorie intake throughout the day and at meals.
One study compared appetite and calorie intake among 12 women who consumed two separate meals.
Before one of the meals, they ate one cup (200 grams) of chickpeas, and before the other, they ate two slices of white bread.
The women experienced a significant reduction in appetite and calorie intake after the chickpea meal, compared to the white bread meal.
Another study found that individuals who ate an average of 104 grams of chickpeas daily for 12 weeks reported feeling fuller and eating less junk food, compared to when they did not eat chickpeas.
More research is needed to confirm the role that chickpeas may have in appetite control. However, they are certainly worth adding to your diet if you want to experiment with their fullness-promoting effects.
3. Rich in Plant-Based Protein
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, making them an appropriate food choice for those who do not eat animal products.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides about 3 grams of protein, which is comparable to the protein content in similar foods like black beans and lentils.
The protein in chickpeas may help promote fullness and keep your appetite under control. Protein is also known for its role in weight control, bone health and maintaining muscle strength.
Some studies have suggested that the quality of the protein in chickpeas is better than that of other types of legumes. That’s because chickpeas contain almost all the essential amino acids, except for methionine.
For this reason, they are not a complete source of protein. To make sure you get all the amino acids in your diet, it’s important to pair chickpeas with another protein source, such as whole grains, to make up for the deficit (6Trusted Source).
4. May Help You Manage Your Weight
Chickpeas have several properties that may help you control your weight.
First, chickpeas have a fairly low calorie density. This means they provide few calories relative to the amount of nutrients they contain.
People who eat lots of low-calorie foods are more likely to lose weight and maintain it than those who eat a lot of high-calorie foods.
Furthermore, the protein and fiber in chickpeas may promote weight management due to their appetite-lowering effects and potential to help reduce calorie intake at meals.
In one study, those who ate chickpeas regularly were 53% less likely to be obese and had a lower body mass index and weight circumference, compared to those who did not eat chickpeas.
Additionally, another meta-analysis found that those who ate at least one serving of legumes, such as chickpeas, each day lost 25% more weight than those who did not eat legumes.
Although these findings are promising, more human studies are needed to establish the effects that chickpeas have on weight management. Regardless, they are an incredibly healthy food to include in your diet.
5. Support Blood Sugar Control
Chickpeas have several properties that may help manage your blood sugar levels.
First, they have a fairly low glycemic index (GI), which is a marker of how rapidly your blood sugar rises after eating a food. Diets including many low-GI foods have been shown to promote blood sugar management.
Second, chickpeas are a good source of fiber and protein, which are both known for their role in blood sugar regulation.
This is because fiber slows carb absorption, which promotes a steady rise in blood sugar levels, rather than a spike. Also, eating protein-rich foods may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
In one study, 19 people who ate a meal that contained 200 grams of chickpeas had a 21% reduction in blood sugar levels, compared to when they ate a meal that contained whole-grain cereal or white bread.
Another 12-week study found that 45 individuals who ate 728 grams of chickpeas per week had a notable reduction in their fasting insulin levels, which is an important factor in blood sugar control (21Trusted Source).
What’s more, several studies have associated chickpea consumption with a reduced risk of several diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. These effects are often attributed to their blood-sugar-lowering effects.
6. May Benefit Digestion
Chickpeas are full of fiber, which has several proven benefits for digestive health.
The fiber in chickpeas is mostly soluble, meaning it blends with water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber may help increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut and prevent the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. This can lead to reduced risk of some digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.
In one study, 42 people who ate 104 grams of chickpeas daily for 12 weeks reported improved bowel function, including more frequent bowel movements and softer stool consistency, compared to when they did not eat chickpeas.
If you want to improve your digestive health, including more chickpeas in your diet is certainly worth a try.
7. May Protect Against Certain Chronic Diseases
Chickpeas have several characteristics that may help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.
Chickpeas are a great source of several minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, which have been studied for their potential to boost heart health.
This is because they may help prevent high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Additionally, the soluble fiber in chickpeas has been shown to help reduce triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which may increase heart disease risk when elevated.
In one 12- week study, 45 people who ate 728 grams of chickpeas per week significantly reduced their total cholesterol levels by an average of almost 16 mg/dL.
Including chickpeas in your diet on a regular basis may help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
First, eating chickpeas may promote the body’s production of butyrate, a fatty acid that has been studied for its potential to reduce inflammation in colon cells, possibly decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
Furthermore, chickpeas are a source of saponins, which are plant compounds that may help prevent the development of certain cancers. Saponins have also been studied for their role in inhibiting tumor growth.
Chickpeas also contain several vitamins and minerals that may lower your risk of cancer, including B vitamins, which may be responsible for reducing the risk of breast and lung cancer.
Chickpeas have a few properties known to support blood sugar control, and thus may help prevent and manage diabetes.
The fiber and protein in chickpeas help prevent your blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating, which is an important factor in diabetes management.
Additionally, their low glycemic index (GI) makes them appropriate for those with diabetes, as they are unlikely to lead to blood sugar spikes.
They’re also a source of several vitamins and minerals that have been found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, including magnesium, B vitamins and zinc.
8. Inexpensive and Easy to Add to Your Diet
Chickpeas are incredibly easy to include in your diet.
They are quite affordable and convenient. Most grocery stores carry them in canned and dry varieties.
What’s more, chickpeas are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. One popular way to eat them is by adding them to salads, soups or sandwiches.
They’re also a main ingredient in hummus, which is a dip made with mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. You can buy hummus from the store or make it on your own, such as in this recipe.
Another way to enjoy chickpeas is to roast them, which makes for a delicious and crunchy snack. You can also incorporate them into veggie burgers or tacos.
Due to their protein content, they can make an excellent substitute for meat.