When you look at a handful of pale and petite chickpeas, they may not look too impressive. This legume is actually a master of disguise, however. Under their unassuming exteriors, chickpeas are literally loaded with nutrients and health benefits.
These legumes have been cultivated for more than 7,500 years, so mankind has been reaping these benefits for more than 75 centuries. Instead of passing up chickpeas for a flashier legume, load up and enjoy the health benefits associated with them.
1. Heart Health
Maintaining heart health is an important goal for anyone trying to stay feeling well and energetic for years to come. Chickpeas actually contain a magical mix of elements that help keep your ticker working just as it should. Along with fiber, these legumes are rich in potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B-6, all of which can be critical in maintaining your overall heart health.
2. Reduce Blood Pressure
Just like maintaining the overall health of your heart muscle, keeping your blood pressure at just the right level is an important part of ensuring proper cardiovascular system functioning. Chickpeas can help in this fight by providing a healthy dose of potassium. Because potassium is a natural vasodilator, it can help to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
3. Lower Cholesterol
A third element that impacts your cardiovascular health that could prove beneficial if you consume chickpeas is the promise of reduced rates of cholesterol. Because of their fiber content – specifically, the amount of soluble fiber they contain – chickpeas can help lower your LDL cholesterol, which is commonly referred to as your bad cholesterol. Lowering rates of this cholesterol can help you stave off heart-related issues such as coronary heart disease.
4. Bolster Bone Health
Along with your cardiovascular system, your skeletal system takes a beating as you age. To keep your bones feeling and functioning at peak, snack on chickpeas. These tiny powerhouses contain a collection of bone-healthy nutrients, including iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and zinc. Vitamin K consumption can reduce rates of bone fracture, decreasing your risk of serious bone-related injury. Phosphate and calcium need to mingle in perfect harmony to keep bones feeling great, so by consuming a food that contains both, you improve your likelihood of maintaining this healthy balance.
5. Lessen Cancer Risks
Of all the health issues one can experience, the threat of cancer is, to many, the most chill-inducing. While there is, unfortunately, neither a known cure nor a surefire way to prevent cancer, dining on chickpeas could prove helpful. Chickpeas reduce cancer risks in two ways. Firstly, they contain selenium. This mineral helps your liver function better, making it easier for your body to rid itself of toxins. Selenium also offers anti-inflammatory benefits, potentially slowing the rate of tumor growth. Another nearly magical element that can be found in abundance in chickpeas is folate. Folate helps promote DNA repair, which might work to prevent the cell mutations that ultimately lead to cancer.
6. Improve Immunity
It’s not just big and scary illnesses like cancer that consuming chickpeas could help prevent. Because they are rich in zinc and copper, chickpeas could actually help boost your immunity. With a ramped up immune system, you could potentially avoid those annoying illnesses to which you always fall victim. Particularly when cold and ‘flu season hits, adding a dose of this legume to your lunchbox could make avoiding disease contraction a more manageable prospect.
7. Regulates Digestive System
Although few people want to talk about it, maintaining sound digestive system functioning is critical to ensuring overall health. Thanks to the abundance of fiber found in chickpeas, these legumes help to keep your digestive system functioning just right. Getting a regular, healthy dose of fiber can work to prevent constipation and make expelling waste easier. Specifically, these legumes contain insoluble fiber, which is particularly beneficial for your digestive system. More than two-thirds of all of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble, which is particularly beneficial as this type of fiber travels to your colon and is ultimately absorbed by the lining of the colon. This ensures the continued health of your colon, an important player in digestive health.
8. Reduce Hunger
If you’re trying to watch your waistline, as many of us are, chickpeas could provide an effective way to do so. Chickpeas are rich in protein, which makes them a filling part of your daily diet. Because protein takes longer for your body to break down, they will keep you feeling fuller for longer, which might prevent you from taking in that oh-so-tasty, yet oh-so-unnecessary mid-day snack. These benefits have been tested and proven, reports The World’s Healthiest Foods. In a study on the effects of chickpea consumption and weight loss, researchers found that consuming these legumes as part of a balanced diet resulted in lowered rates of consumption of processed foods, which made losing weight and keeping it off easier for participants.
Keeping your digestive system functioning properly is another way that chickpeas help control weight. By ensuring that waste is expelled properly, you can prevent both weight gain and bloating which, if not controlled, could lead to excess weight gain or hamper the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts.
9. Eases Inflammation
Inflammation can cause a host of aches and pains throughout your body. Easing this discomfort could, it seems, be as easy as adding chickpeas to your diet on a regular basis. Chickpeas contain choline, a nutrient that has lots of benefits, including reducing inflammation.
10. Reduce Effects of Anemia
If you struggle to maintain appropriate iron levels, consuming chickpeas could aid you in your efforts. Chickpeas are rich in iron, the mineral you’re lacking if you suffer from anemia. By consuming chickpeas regularly, you could reduce the necessity of taking iron supplements. One cup of chickpeas contains 26 percent of the iron you need each day, reports Heal With Food, so you don’t need to eat a massive amount to reap this benefit.
11. Diabetes Management
If you’re struggling to control diabetes and keep hunger in check at the same time, chickpeas could be the cure to what ails you. Thanks to the fiber found in chickpeas, they can help those with diabetes maintain more consistent blood sugar levels.
12. Decrease Menopause Symptoms
If you’re a woman and you’re going through menopause, chickpeas could provide you some natural relief to the ill-effects of this unavoidable physical change. Chickpeas are rich in phytoestrogen. The addition of these nutrients to your body could minimize hot flashes and make the entire process of menopause a little less uncomfortable. Eating these legumes regularly enough could even speed the rate with which you move through this process, which comes as a welcome reward to anyone who has ever had to deal with the rigors of this complex transition.