Snacking on chickpeas is a great way to get extra protein. We all need protein to build muscle and to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.
Did you know that chickpeas are a healthy source of protein. They are low in fat so a better source of protein than meats like beef.
They also have many health benefits and are tasty when eaten roasted as a snack.
Tip – snack on roasted chickpeas before and after a gym workout to grow muscle. Healthier than protein drinks.
The Protein in Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, making them an appropriate food choice for those who do not eat animal products.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides about 3 to 4 grams of protein, which is comparable to the protein content in similar foods like black beans and lentils (source).
The protein in chickpeas may help promote fullness and keep your appetite under control. Protein is also known for its role in weight control, bone health and maintaining muscle strength (source, source, source, source).
Some studies have suggested that the quality of the protein in chickpeas is better than that of other types of legumes. That’s because chickpeas contain almost all the essential amino acids, except for methionine (source).
For this reason, they are not a complete source of protein. To make sure you get all the amino acids in your diet, it’s important to pair chickpeas with another protein source, such as whole grains, to make up for the deficit (source).
Your body needs the macro-nutrient protein to build muscles and other tissues. Animal sources supply the largest amounts of protein, but they also contain saturated fat, which puts you at risk for heart disease if consumed in excess. The recommendation for protein is 46 grams daily for women and 56 for men; more active people or those needing to build muscle may require more, says Harvard Health Publishing.
Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, offer a good alternative source of protein, whether you’re full-on vegetarian or simply trying to reduce your meat intake. A half-cup of cooked chickpeas gives you about 8 grams of protein, or 15 percent of the daily required amount, while canned chickpeas offer slightly less, with about 6 grams. At the same time, these servings supply only a trace amount of saturated fat.
Incomplete Protein in Chickpeas
We mention above that chickpeas don’t provide “complete” protein — that is, all the essential amino acids in one serving — like animal foods do. While quinoa and soybean foods do supply all the amino acids, chickpeas and other legumes do not.
However, don’t let this scare you out of embarking on meat-free days or a vegetarian or vegan diet. Complementary proteins are those that provide all the essential amino acids, for example, hummus and pitta bread or black beans and rice.
Even though they taste good together, you don’t necessarily have to eat these complementary foods at the same meal. By incorporating a variety of grains, nuts, beans, seeds and vegetables into your daily regimen, you’ll be getting all the amino acids you need over the course of your day, although not in one sitting.
Fibre in Chickpeas
Beyond their protein, another benefit of chickpeas is their high fibre content. Fibre is an indigestible part of plant foods that passes through your digestive system relatively intact, keeping your bowel movements regular and sweeping away bacteria. Both of these functions may help prevent colon conditions like diverticular disease.
In just a serving of cooked chickpeas, you’ll get 25 percent of the daily value (DV) for fibre, while canned chickpeas deliver 19 percent. Even a small serving of hummus contributes 4 percent of the DV for fibre to your diet.
Not only does fibre hold benefits for digestive health, but, according to Harvard Health Publishing, it may also help prevent metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and excess belly fat.
Metabolic syndrome puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Many Americans don’t get enough fibre in their diets, so the addition of chickpeas along with other legumes and vegetables can help boost intake.
Chickpeas Nutrition and Weight Management
The dietary fibre and protein in chickpeas both contribute to an overall feeling of satiety. Foods high in protein or fibre take longer for the body to digest, and when you eat foods containing them, you experience greater fullness and a diminished desire to overeat. This, in turn, supports weight loss and management.
Animal foods may deliver lots of protein, but they don’t contain the added benefit of fibre. The combination of these two satiating nutrients in chickpeas and other legumes makes them stand out in the fight against being overweight or obese.
Compared to people who don’t partake of chickpeas and hummus, those who do are 53 percent less likely to be obese; 43 percent less likely to be overweight; and 48 percent less likely to have excess belly fat, according to an article published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences in 2014.
Lower body weight is associated with a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, report the authors of a review published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2017.
Minerals in Chickpeas
The protein and fibre in chickpeas are just the start of their nutritional benefits. While canned chickpeas and hummus offer small amounts of minerals, cooking chickpeas from dried legumes affords you a wealth of these micro-nutrients.
Of particular note, in a serving of cooked chickpeas you’ll get 13 percent of the DV for iron, a trace mineral needed to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. For your body to absorb iron, you need to eat foods containing it along with vitamin C. Pairing chickpeas with tomatoes, bell peppers or lemon juice fills the bill.
Cooked chickpeas supply rich amounts of other minerals too, like 11 percent of the DV for phosphorus, 12 percent for zinc, 32 percent for copper and 37 percent for manganese. Phosphorus builds healthy bones and teeth, while zinc supports your sense of taste and helps with wound healing. Copper and manganese comprise many enzymes in the body.
Chickpeas and Folate
Chickpeas contain a variety of vitamins, but these legumes are best known for contributing an excellent amount of folate to your diet. In a half-cup of cooked chickpeas, you’ll get 36 percent of the DV for this nutrient; in a serving of canned, the amount goes down to 8 percent. Two tablespoons of hummus contain 4 percent of the DV.
The body uses folate, one of the B vitamins, for making DNA and for cell division. Because of its role in manufacturing genetic material, folate is an especially important nutrient for women and girls of childbearing age; a deficiency can cause fetal birth defects.
Chickpeas Nutrition and Overall Health
Consumption of chickpeas and hummus has links to good health in general, according to the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences article. The authors examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2010, and determined that individuals who ate any daily amount of chickpeas or hummus had better overall diet quality, with a higher nutrient content, than those who didn’t.
In addition to having better weight management and lower body mass indexes, those who ate chickpeas or hummus daily enjoyed lower blood cholesterol levels and were 51 percent less likely to have elevated glucose than those who didn’t consume these foods. That’s good news for those with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
An article published in the journal Nutrients in 2016 found that hummus has far greater nutritional value than other snack foods. The authors ranked hummus as having the highest nutrient-to-calorie ratio of all the most popular dips and spreads, including salsa, peanut butter and even other bean dips. If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, you’ll get the biggest nutritional bang for your calories when choosing hummus as your snack.