Here’s a question for you.
Name one of the oldest, in fact ancient-est growing legume crops on the planet?
You have guessed it right. It’s chickpeas.
As per historical evidence, chickpeas have been grown for around 10,000 years in the Middle Eastern countries. In fact, they are still one of the most widely grown legumes around the world.
But what do chickpeas taste like for us, today?
They have an earthy and somewhat nutty flavor. Besides, the grainy texture adds to the overall satisfying feel.
So, let’s take a closer look at this versatile legume and the reasons behind its rising global popularity.
What Are Chickpeas?
Basically, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are edible seeds that have excellent nutritional value. They belong to the same family as beans, lentils, and peanuts.
Chickpeas are available in both dried and canned forms. Dried forms are the most common find as they have a long shelf life. Canned forms can be consumed straight out of the can.
Here’s a look at the common chickpea varieties and what they taste like.
- The large, cream-colored Kabuli types are the most popular ones. They are characterized by thick skin and creamy and often buttery flavor. This is the common variety you will find in most US grocery stores.
- The Desi types are smaller in size and have darker skin and yellowish interiors. The seed coat is thicker and richer in nutrients than the other varieties. They have a mildly nutty taste.
- The green chickpeas look similar to green peas. When eaten raw, these chickpeas taste like a blend of the freshness of peas and the beany flavor of peanuts.
In addition, chickpea flour is also used in some Indian and Italian dishes.
Now, what does chickpea flour taste like?
It tastes better than ordinary flour and can add a buttery flavor to the dishes.
In 2019, global production of chickpeas was around 14 million metric tons. India is the largest producer of chickpeas, followed by Turkey.
What’s With the Name?
Have you ever wondered why these legumes are called chickpeas?
Actually, the origin of the name can be traced back to the Latin word, “cicer”, which indicates the family of legumes. (Yes, the famous ancient philosopher seems to have had a not-so-philosophical name!)
Back to the chickpea.
The French term corresponding to the Latin was “pois chiche”.
After landing on the shores of England, the name changed to “chich-pease”. Chances are, the 17th-century dialect confused the term “Pease” with “Peas” and we ended up with the latter.
And you know what?
Chickpeas are also used to make chickpea coffee!
Now, if you’re a coffee lover, you might call this blasphemy.
But garbanzo beans have been used as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee in some countries for a long time.
What makes chickpeas so popular is their versatility. You can cook them raw, or add roasted or fried chickpeas in salads or soups. Since they blend smoothly, they are also great for preparing those delicious creamy dips.
And remember, before you cook dried chickpeas, it’s best to soak them overnight.
The best part is, they can match the flavor profile of a wide variety of dishes. That’s what makes them an integral component of dishes like hummus and falafel.
Are Chickpeas a Superfood?
Usually, legumes are considered superfoods due to their excellent nutrient content and the ability to prevent various diseases.
And Chickpeas are no exception. Check out some of their benefits.
- Chickpeas contain multiple minerals and vitamins like manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, potassium, and B vitamin folate. These are essential for maintaining good health.
- A 164-gram serving of chickpeas contains around 14.5 grams of protein. They are an excellent protein source for vegans.
- Since chickpeas have a low glycemic index (GI), they are good for blood sugar regulation. This also makes them reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Besides, they can also lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Apart from carbohydrates and proteins, chickpeas contain plenty of dietary fibers. The soluble dietary fibers promote digestive health and also help in bowel movement.
- As per some research, chickpeas can prevent inflammation in colon cells. This reduces the risk of colorectal cancers.
- Some evidence suggests that the presence of the compound choline in chickpeas can also help in improving brain health.
OK, I know what you’re thinking.
Are chickpeas good for weight loss?
You bet! Chickpeas have a high fiber and moderate protein content. They also have a moderate carb content and low energy density. They will keep you feeling full for longer hours and reduce calorie intake during meals.
In fact, one study has indicated that 53% of people who consume hummus are less likely to turn obese.
Sounds impressive, right?
Overall, adding chickpeas to your diet can have loads of positive effects.
What Are the Side Effects of Chickpeas?
Chickpeas aren’t bad for you when eaten in moderation. However, consuming too many chickpeas can cause bloating and gas.
The reason is, they contain some saccharides, which are a form of sugar. The saccharides are not easily digested in the stomach or metabolized by intestinal bacteria. This leads to the formation of gas.
Besides, those with irritable bowel syndrome can also face discomfort by consuming an excess of this legume.
Since chickpeas contain a lot of potassium, they might be unsuitable for those with kidney problems. The kidneys may not be able to filter out the excess potassium.
Also, some medications related to heart diseases contain beta-blockers. This can increase potassium levels in the body. For such individuals, the consumption of food items like chickpeas, which are rich in potassium, should be controlled.
One more thing…
Chickpeas don’t contain methionine, which is one of the essential amino acids. So, it’s best to pair chickpeas with a whole grain like quinoa to get a full range of amino acids in your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are roasted chickpeas bad for you?
Worries aside! Roasted chickpeas aren’t bad for you at all.
Roasting at high temperatures may reduce the vitamin content in chickpeas. Still, you will get multiple health benefits from them.
Is it OK to eat chickpeas every day?
Honestly, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Whether you are consuming snacks containing chickpeas or any other dishes, it’s best to nibble them in moderation.
Are canned chickpeas healthy?
The fact is, canned chickpeas can have some adverse effects. Firstly, they may have extra quantities of sodium or sugar as preservatives. Next, exposure to light and high temperatures can affect the nutrient levels of canned food items.
Personally, I would choose dried chickpeas over canned varieties. If you choose canned chickpeas, make sure to wash them to get rid of any excess sodium or other preservatives.