ChickpeasThey are also known as Garbanzo beans and have a nutty and a pasty texture. They are mostly beige in colour; however there are other less known varieties which in an array of shades such as green, red, black and brown.

Chickpeas are a member of the legume family and are a starchy carbohydrate. They feature a lot in the Italian cuisine and also Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Indian foods.

Where did chickpeas originate?

Chickpeas were first cultivated in the Middle East in around 3000 BC. Travellers then spread the beans to India and Africa.

Today the highest producers of chickpeas are Pakistan, India, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.

The nutritional component of chickpeas

Like most foods in the legume family, chick peas are low saturated fats and high in key nutrients such as:

  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Minerals such as manganese, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous
  • Folate
  • Antioxidant phytonutrients
  • Ten different vitamins
  • Carbohydrates
Cooking Chickpeas

First spread the chickpeas on a tray or a baking sheet and removed any stones or dirt.

To prepare chickpeas for cooking, soak them overnight in water. Chickpeas expand to twice their size, so ensure that the soaking bowl is large enough.

Drain the water and rinse them in clean water.

Soaking makes the beans easier to digest and it lessens the require boiling time.

Pour the chickpeas into boiling water and let them simmer on low heat for an hour or two. When they are tender to the touch, the chick peas are ready.

Once cooked and cooled, you can store them in the refrigerator or proceed to cook a chick pea recipe. One popular one is the Mediterranean Hummus.

Traditional Hummus recipe

To prepare this dish you require:

Two cups of pre-soaked chickpeas

Freshly squeezed lemon juice from two lemons

Three tablespoons of sesame seed paste

Two crushed garlic cloves and some salt to taste


Grind the chickpeas, lemon juice, the paste and the garlic in a food processor until the resulting mixture is creamy.

Spoon the cream into a bowl and garnish with olive oil, paprika and chopped parsley. Serve with pita bread.

Chickpeas can also be bought canned from the supermarket. The good thing with canned chickpeas is that unlike vegetables, they do not lose their nutritional value from the process of canning.

Health benefits of chickpeas
Lowered risk of cancer

Chick peas contain selenium, a mineral commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Selenium helps to detoxify cancer causing compounds in the body.

They also contain phytochemicals called saponins, which lower the risk of breast cancer as they are antioxidants.

Chickpeas also contain folate, which is believed to further lower your risk for contracting cancer, because of the nutrient’s part in promoting healthy cell division.

Heart disease

Chickpeas help to rid the body of bad cholesterol. The soluble fibre in the legume lowers your risk of contracting cardiovascular disease by binding with the bile acids, preventing them from being absorbed into the body.

The phytonutrients present maintain healthy blood vessels and reduce the stress to them caused by oxidation.

The folate in the chickpeas minimizes the narrowing of arteries caused by a build-up of plaque.

Prevention and management of diabetes

The carbohydrates in chickpeas are released slowly into the body, so that blood sugar levels are maintained at a constant and safe level.

They help with insulin resistance, thus protecting you from Type 2 diabetes.

Protection from anaemia

Anaemia is an illness caused by a deficiency of iron in the body, which means that your body lacks enough red blood cells.

Iron rich foods such as chickpeas can correct the iron deficiency when you incorporate them into your diet. This is especially true for lactating and pregnant women, as well as children.

Good for the digestive system

While chickpeas are known to produce flatulence when consumed in large quantities, the fibre present works to ensure that your gut is healthy.

They prevent constipation and ensure the quick movement of food through the digestive tract.

Skin benefits

Chickpeas offer several benefits to the skin such as:

  • Besan, which is a powder ground from black chickpeas is used as a face mask to cleanse the skin and leave it glowing and moisturized.
  • Chickpeas paste mixed with sandalwood paste has healing properties that treat skin inflammations as well as rid the skin of unsightly acne problems, scars and sunburn.
  • Chickpeas have also been known to cure ringworm infections.
Hair benefits

The hair is prone to damage from the environmental, hair chemicals as well as the food that you consume. Chickpeas contain minerals that help to reverse these adverse effects to your hair such as:

  • The zinc and VitaminB6 in the legumes promote hair growth. They build up the protein in the hair thereby strengthening hair follicles.
  • A lack of Vitamin A and zinc causes hair loss. Regular consumption of chickpeas will protect you from dandruff and protect your hair from falling off.
  • Chickpeas are used to make a home treatment that rids your skin of dandruff.

To make the paste

Simply mix four tablespoons of chickpea flour with water.

Stir it until it forms a fairly smooth consistency, and then apply this to your scalp.

Massage it in and then wash it off after ten minutes.

Repeat this for several days and you’ll notice a marked improvement in your scalp.

  • Chickpeas contain manganese which stops your hair from turning grey.
Weight loss

Chickpeas have a low glycaemic index, meaning that they do not affect blood sugar levels much. They are high in fibre and protein, which keep you feeling full for longer.

Low in calories, chickpeas are a perfect food for people who are eager to shed some weight, while consuming nutrient packed foods.

The fibre ensures faster and more efficient removal of waste from the body, further aiding in the weight loss journey.


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