A superfood, with its fancy name, may be all the rage today (think maca, lucuma, camu-camu, and gurana), but did you know that one of them lies inconspicuously in your pantry?
Is it a grain? Is it a seed? No! It’s just the humble chickpea!
With proven benefits in increasing satiety and weight loss, fighting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, coupled with their high iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, vitamin B, and fibre content, chickpeas (or chana) are a nutritional fireball just waiting to be discovered.
What exactly makes chickpeas a superfood?
The term ‘superfood’ simply denotes any nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Today, the term is used as a misnomer to market esoteric powders, berries, and fruits sourced form far-flung corners of the world. But superfoods exist in every culture.
Chickpeas, sweet potatoes, watercress, kale, and the ubiquitous egg can all be considered superfoods, and are commonplace in cultures all over the world.
The chickpeas’ superfood quality comes from the myriad of health benefits associated with it, along with its high nutritional value.
For one, chickpeas are a form of complex carbohydrates, which the body then slowly digests and transforms into sustained fuel or energy. This is essential, as it differs sharply from simple carbohydrates like sugar, white rice, and white flour, that all cause spikes and dips in energy and blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial to diabetics, who need to keep their sugar levels as stable as possible.
Chickpeas are also incredibly protein-rich, which helps to keep you satiated, and curb food cravings and unhealthy snacking.
The beans also help maintain a healthy gut, thanks to their high fibre content. Fibre helps in healthy digestion by quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, balances pH levels and bacteria within the gut, and controls blood sugar levels.
One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 269 calories, 45 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.
A one-cup serving of raw chickpeas also provides 50% of your daily potassium needs, 2% vitamin A, 21% calcium, 13% vitamin C, 69% iron, 2% sodium, 55% vitamin B-6 and 57% magnesium. Chickpeas are also a rich source of vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, choline, iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium, and selenium, which support healthy bone and heart health.
Chickpeas in Food
Aside from their health benefits, chickpeas are also versatile legumes that feature prominently in cuisines from all over the world – from Italian, Greek, and Indian, to Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Portuguese.
In Trinidad and Tobago chickpeas can be a perfect morning snack, a great side dish or a full meal when placed between two fluffy pieces of fried dough.
But one of our favourite ways to incorporate chickpeas into our diet is by taking a page out of Egyptian cuisine and blend them into a creamy, flavourful hummus.
Made of pantry staples like mashed chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, spices, and tahini (sesame paste), hummus is a quick, nutritious dip that doubles as the perfect healthy snack.
The best part? The possibilities are endless! There’s roasted red pepper hummus, beetroot hummus, harissa and mint hummus, chipotle lime hummus, roasted butternut squash hummus, sundried tomato hummus, and literally hundreds more.
Are your bellies rumbling? GOOD!
We’ve come up with our very own Trini-fied hummus that we’re unveiling as part of our brand new health and fitness segment, Forward Forty Moves. So stay tuned, keep a look out for the recipe, and let us know what you think of it.