Commonly known as ‘chana’ in India, chickpeas are a part of the vegetarian diet in India. The seeds are excellent sources of protein. There are generally two varieties of chickpeas, ‘desi’ and ‘kabuli’. The ‘desi’ variety comprises of darker smaller seeds having a rough outer covering whereas the ‘kabuli’ variety are comparatively larger light colored beans with a smoother coat.
Black chickpeas, also known as Bengal grams, Garbanzo beans or ‘kala chana’ belong to the ‘desi’ variety and have a much higher fiber content and lower glycemic index. Being an extremely versatile legume, it is widely used in a variety of Middle Eastern and Indian dishes like falafels, hummus and curries as well as salads, soups and stews or even as a quick snack. In addition to their delicious nut like taste and buttery texture, black chickpeas are extremely beneficial for health.
Being low in fat, high in dietary fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals, black chickpeas can indeed be a healthy addition to your diet. Two to three tablespoons of these legumes are equivalent to one portion of the daily recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of black chickpeas are as follows.
Prevention of Diabetes:
The carbohydrates in legumes such as black chickpeas are digested slowly, thus reducing the blood sugar levels. This contributes to insulin resistance, thereby reducing the risk of getting type-2 diabetes.
Great Source of Iron:
Being a rich source of iron, black chickpeas can prevent anemia and boost your energy levels. This is particularly beneficial for pregnant or lactating women as well as growing children. Iron plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin by transporting oxygen from the lungs to all body cells and is an important component of enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
Good Source of Protein for Vegetarians:
Black chickpeas are an alternative source of protein for vegetarians as these legumes in combination with whole grain or whole wheat protein, provide significant amounts of protein which are comparable to that of meat and dairy as well as devoid of high calories or saturated fats.
Aids in Weight Loss:
Inclusion of fiber rich foods in your diet can greatly contribute to weight loss. Black chickpeas are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber facilitates the excretion of bile and ferries by forming a gel like substance in the digestive tract whereas insoluble fiber prevents constipation and other digestive disorders. Moreover, fiber fills up your stomach, making you feel satiated for longer and curbs hunger cravings. Drinking water boiled with chickpeas helps in reducing appetite. Thus, consuming legumes like black chickpeas can be more effective in weight loss than simply cutting calories.
Black chickpeas contain a unique combination of antioxidants, anthocyanins, delphindin, cyanidin and petunidin as well as phytonutrients and ALA that maintain the health of blood vessels and prevent oxidative stress, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Black chickpeas contain considerable amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the homocysteine levels thus minimizing the risk of narrowing of arteries by plaque formation, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
The soluble fiber in black chickpeas binds the bile acids and prevents them from being absorbed by the body, thus reducing cholesterol levels. Daily consumption of around ¾ cup of chickpeas helps to decrease LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol triglycerides. Moreover, the dietary fiber of black chick peas is superior to that found in other foods.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar and Low Glycemic Index (GI):
The soluble fiber in black chickpeas controls the absorption and release of blood sugar. Moreover, chickpeas have low glycemic index of 28 to 32 which means that the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This aids in weight loss by controlling appetite. The low GI causes blood sugar to rise moderately and slowly leading to lower blood sugar levels. Consuming ½ a cup of black chickpeas a day is effective in controlling blood sugar in just a week.