Chickpeas

Chickpeas ~ Super Beans

Here's another food to add to a heart-healthy menu:

While North Americans are more familiar with the cream-fleshed variety called kabuli or garbanzo beans, a smaller-sized variety called desi is more prevalent in other parts of the world.

About 85% produced worldwide are of the desi variety and 15% are kabuli.

And both have a delicious nut-like taste and buttery texture.

They provide a good source of protein that can be enjoyed year-round and are available either dried or canned.

A very versatile super bean, they are a noted ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, falafels and curries.

While many people think of garbanzo beans as being beige in color, there are varieties that feature black, green, red and brown beans.

Health Benefits

Garbanzos are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans.

In addition to lowering cholesterol, these super beans high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

When combined with whole grains such as rice, garbanzos provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.

But this is far from all these super legumes have to offer.

Garbanzos are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites.

Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars.

I've never seen that on the label at my deli.

Hmmmmmmm.

Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed.

If you've ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them.

A Fiber Super Star

Garbanzos, like other beans, are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol)and ferries it out of the body.

Studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Lower Your Heart Attack Risk

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as garbanzo beans, helps prevent heart disease.

Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years.

People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily.

Chickpeas & Heart Health

Garbanzos' contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these beans supply.

Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle.

Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease.

It's been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%.

Just one cup of cooked garbanzo beans provides 70.5% of the DV for folate.

Garbanzos' supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker.

When enough magnesium magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.

Want to literally keep your heart happy?

Eat chickpeas.

For even more cardio-protection, team garbanzo beans with garlic or turmeric.

For a quick, tasty hummus, just combine pre-cooked garbanzos in the blender with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and/or onion, salt and pepper to taste.

Garbanzos Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, super beans like garbanzos can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.

Iron for Energy

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, garbanzos can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores.

Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with garbanzos is a good idea, especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, these super beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free.

Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.

And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase.

Manganese for Energy Production and Antioxidant Defense

Chickpeas are an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential co-factor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses.

Protein Power & Then Some

If you're wondering how to replace red meat in your diet, become a fan of garbanzo beans.

These nutty flavored beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods.

And, when you get your protein from chickpeas, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of the soluble fiber provided by these versatile legumes.

How to Select and Store

Store dried garbanzo beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they'll keep for up to 12 months.

If you purchase garbanzos at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times.

ooked garbanzo beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.

If purchasing chickpea flour, more generally available in ethnic food stores, make sure that it's made from chickpeas that have been cooked, since in their raw form, they contain a substance that is hard to digest and produces flatulence.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Adding chickpeas to your vegetable soup will enhance its taste, texture and nutritional content.

Since Marilyn and I are such super soup fans, we add beans to our soups all the time!

Make a middle Eastern-inspired pasta dish by adding garbanzo beans to penne mixed with olive oil, feta cheese and fresh oregano.

Simmer cooked garbanzo beans in a sauce of tomato paste, curry spices, and chopped walnuts and serve this dahl-type dish with brown rice.

Add 'em to your green salads.

Sprinkle chickpeas with your favorite spices and herbs and eat as a snack.

Safety

Garbanzo Beans and Purines

Purines are naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and humans.

In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health issues.

Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid.

The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine containing foods.

It's for this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine containing foods such as garbanzo beans.

Nutritional Profile

Garbanzo beans are an excellent source of molybdenum and manganese.

They're also an excellent source of folate and a good source of protein, dietary fiber, copper, phosphorous and iron.

Homemade Hummus

Hummus is one of the more popular Middle Eastern dips.

I highly recommend trying this recipe.

It’s simple, flavorful, fresh, and mild.

And you can always adjust the ingredients as needed

Served with fresh vegetables or toasted pita bread, hummus makes for a great snack or appetizer.

Tahini is an important part of the hummus recipe and cannot be substituted.

However, it can be omitted.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans

1/4 c. liquid from can of chickpeas

3-5 Tbs. lemon juice (depending on taste)

1 1/2 Tbs. tahini

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. olive oil

Preparation:

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can.

Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor.

Add 1/4 c. of liquid from chickpeas.

Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 Tbs.) of olive oil in the well.

Garnish with parsley (optional).

Serve immediately with fresh vegetables or warm and/or toasted pita bread.

Variations:

For a spicier hummus, add a sliced red chile or a dash of cayenne pepper.

Storing Hummus:

Hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and can be kept in the freezer for up to one month.

Add a little olive oil if it appears to be too dry.

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