Botanical Name: Cicer arietinum
Common Names: Chickpea, garbanzo bean
Family: Fabaceae (Legume family)
Protein: 8.86 grams
Fat: 2.59 grams
Carbohydrates: 27.42 grams
Dietary Fiber: 7.6 grams
Sugars: 4.8 grams
Vitamin A: 7 micrograms
Vitamin C: 0.6 milligrams
Vitamin E: 0.35 milligrams
Vitamin K: 4.8 micrograms
Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.116 milligrams
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.063 milligrams
Niacin (Vitamin B3): 0.526 milligrams
Vitamin B6: 0.139 milligrams
Folate (Vitamin B9): 172 micrograms
Calcium: 49 milligrams
Iron: 2.89 milligrams
Magnesium: 48 milligrams
Phosphorus: 168 milligrams
Potassium: 291 milligrams
Sodium: 6 milligrams
Zinc: 1.53 milligrams
Copper: 0.366 milligrams
Manganese: 0.99 milligrams
Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.15 grams
Omega-6 fatty acids: 1.12 grams
The word “chickpea” has its origins in the French word “chiche,” which can be traced back to the Latin word “cicer,” meaning chickpea. The Roman cognomen Cicero is also derived from the Latin word “cicer.”
Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) have a long history and are believed to have originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and were one of the earliest cultivated crops in this region.
Archaeological evidence suggests that chickpeas were grown in Turkey as early as 7,000 years ago. They were also cultivated in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and ancient Egypt. Chickpeas were mentioned in the writings of Greek and Roman scholars, including Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides, indicating their presence in the Mediterranean region during classical times.
Chickpeas spread to other parts of the world through trade and exploration. They became an important crop in many cultures and cuisines, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Chickpeas have been an integral part of traditional dishes like hummus, falafel, and various curries and stews.
During the Middle Ages, chickpeas gained popularity in Europe and were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) by the Moors. Chickpeas were widely cultivated in Spain and became a staple food during this period. They were later introduced to the Americas during the era of European exploration and colonization.
Today, chickpeas are grown and consumed worldwide. They are versatile ingredients used in various cuisines and are valued for their nutritional benefits, including their protein and fiber content. Chickpeas have also gained popularity as a plant-based protein source and are commonly used in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, offer several health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of chickpeas:
- Digestive Tract Support: Chickpeas are rich in fiber, with approximately 12.5 grams of fiber per cup. The insoluble fiber in chickpeas supports healthy digestive tract function. It passes through the digestive system unchanged until it reaches the colon, where it is broken down by bacteria into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. These SCFAs provide energy to the cells lining the colon, promoting their optimal function and reducing the risk of colon problems, including colon cancer.
- Unique Supply of Antioxidants: Chickpeas contain various antioxidant nutrients that support different body systems susceptible to oxidative stress. They contain small but valuable amounts of conventional antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Additionally, chickpeas provide concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients, including flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin), phenolic acids (ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, vanillic acid), and anthocyanins (delphinidin, cyanidin, petunidin). These antioxidants help protect the cardiovascular system, lungs, and nervous system.
- Decreased Cardiovascular Risks: Regular consumption of chickpeas has been associated with reduced cardiovascular risks. Studies have shown that consuming as little as 3/4 cup of chickpeas per day can help lower LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels within a month. The soluble fiber content in chickpeas, along with their antioxidant composition, contributes to their cardiovascular benefits. The presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), further supports heart health.
- Better Regulation of Blood Sugar: The fiber and protein content in chickpeas plays a crucial role in stabilizing blood sugar levels. These nutrients help regulate the flow of food through the digestive tract, preventing rapid or slow breakdown of food and facilitating better blood sugar control. The vitamin and mineral composition, including antioxidants, also contribute to improved blood sugar regulation. Studies have demonstrated that consuming as little as 1/2 cup of chickpeas per day can lead to better blood sugar control in as little as one week.
- Choose dried chickpeas: When buying chickpeas, opt for dried ones instead of canned. Dried chickpeas have a longer shelf life and allow you to control the cooking process.
- Look for quality: Select chickpeas that are clean, dry, and uniform in size and color. Avoid ones that appear discolored, damaged, or have insect damage.
- Purchase from a trusted source: Buy chickpeas from reputable stores or brands to ensure quality and freshness.
- Store in airtight containers: Transfer dried chickpeas to airtight containers or resealable bags to protect them from moisture, pests, and contaminants. Make sure the containers are clean and dry before storing.
- Store in a cool, dry place: Keep chickpeas in a cool and dry pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Excessive heat and moisture can lead to spoilage or loss of quality.
- Check for any signs of spoilage: Periodically inspect the stored chickpeas for any signs of mold, insect infestation, or unusual odors. Discard any spoiled chickpeas to prevent contamination.
- Use within a reasonable time frame: While dried chickpeas have a long shelf life, it’s best to use them within a year to maintain optimal quality. Over time, they may lose moisture and take longer to cook.
- Consider freezing for longer storage: If you want to store chickpeas for an extended period, you can freeze them. Cook the chickpeas until they are tender, allow them to cool, and then place them in freezer-safe containers or bags. Properly stored, frozen chickpeas can last for up to six months.
White Chickpeas Recipes
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
Cooked rice or naan bread (for serving)
- In a large skillet or pot, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent.
- Add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the skillet and sauté for another minute.
- Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and paprika to the skillet, and stir well to coat the onions, garlic, and ginger with the spices.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes (with their juices) and coconut milk. Stir everything together.
- Add the cooked chickpeas to the skillet and season with salt. Stir to combine.
- Simmer the curry over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve the chickpea curry over cooked rice or with naan bread. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cucumber, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Rinse and drain the cooked chickpeas, then pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
- In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper until they are well coated.
- Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast them in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until they become crispy and golden.
- While the chickpeas are roasting, prepare the salad ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the diced cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, red onion, and fresh parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the chickpeas are roasted, let them cool slightly before adding them to the salad bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together until well combined.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Serve the roasted chickpea salad as a light and refreshing main dish or as a side dish to accompany other meals.