8 Surprising Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Spoon of oriental pumpkin stew with redkurisquash, roasted turmericchick-peasand parsley

    Chickpeas are an edible seed in the same legume family as peanuts, kidney beans, black beans and lima beans. There’s no difference between chickpeas vs. garbanzo beans. These legumes are small but mighty: Chickpeas are packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. The health benefits of chickpeas don’t stop there. They’re heart-healthy, helping to lower cholesterol, and they also help ward off type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer. Find out more about chickpeas and ways you can add them to your diet.

  • 1
    Chickpeas contain many important vitamins and minerals.
    Chickpea and spinach curry

    Chickpea nutrition adds a healthy boost to your diet. In only a half-cup of canned chickpeas, you’ll get an assortment of B vitamins, including a whopping 52% of your daily B6 needs, as well as folate, vitamin E and vitamin K. Chickpeas also provide the minerals iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc. However, watch out for the sodium content of canned chickpeas, and be sure to rinse them before using to help reduce the sodium. You can also prepare dried chickpeas yourself, and then you’ll be able to control the amount of salt you use.

  • 2
    Chickpeas provide good plant-based protein.
    Veggie Burger with chickpea patty

    Just half a cup of these legumes provides more than 7 grams of protein, 15% of your recommended amount for the day. As a plant-based protein, chickpeas make a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, especially because chickpeas contain eight of the nine essential amino acids (lacking only methionine).

  • 3
    Chickpeas are a fantastic source of fiber.
    Roasted radishes with hummus

    Just a half-cup of canned chickpeas contains more than 6 grams of fiber, which is 24% of your daily needs. Chickpeas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps promote beneficial gut bacteria and aids in digestion, and it also can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber helps create bulky, soft stools, which can prevent and treat constipation. Adding a lot of fiber to your diet all at once can cause some intestinal discomfort—increased gas, bloating and cramping. It’s best to add extra fiber slowly over a few weeks. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) need to pay special attention to adding fiber gradually because it may worsen their symptoms.

  • 4
    Chickpeas may help you keep your weight under control.
    Woman eating Mediterranean soup with bread, close-up

    Another big plus of all that fiber and protein in chickpeas? It can slow down digestion and help you stay full longer, which may lead to less snacking and contribute to healthy weight management. Scientists note that people who eat chickpeas may be more likely to eat an overall nutritious diet than people who don’t eat chickpeas, which may contribute to healthy weight observations in research studies.

  • 5
    Chickpeas may help prevent and control type 2 diabetes.
    Healthy vegan bowl. plant based meal with chickpeas

    In addition to helping you control your weight, chickpeas can help prevent type 2 diabetes in other ways. Chickpea health benefits include their low glycemic index. They contain a starch called amylose that takes your body a longer time to digest than some other starches. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin, and it can also help control blood sugar in people who already have diabetes.

  • 6
    Chickpeas may help control cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
    Meal with chickpeas, parmesan, bread and wine

    By helping to control your cholesterol levels, chickpeas can also help prevent cardiovascular disease. The plant sterol (also called a phytosterol) in chickpeas helps stop your body from absorbing cholesterol, which in turn helps lower your blood cholesterol levels. Phytosterol compounds are a great part of a heart-healthy diet, and all that fiber also may improve your blood lipid levels, meaning it helps regulate the amount of fat in your blood, which includes both cholesterol and triglycerides.

  • 7
    Chickpeas help take care of your gut.
    Hummus with spices and olive oil served on a white plate

    Fiber promotes good colorectal health and may help prevent colon cancer. As bacteria in the gut break down the soluble fiber raffinose found in chickpeas, it creates a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. This fatty acid helps to reduce inflammation in the colon and helps you stay regular. This reduced inflammation, combined with increasing cell death (which is a good thing) and keeping your bowels running smoothly, may offer some protection against colon cancer.

  • 8
    Chickpeas may help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
    Cooked chickpeas and a man's hand holding a spoon of cumin

    Besides helping to prevent colorectal cancer, the vitamins in chickpeas have also been studied for their role in protecting against other kinds of cancer. Folate and B vitamins have been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer and lung cancer. Researchers note that more scientific study is needed to determine how much protection these vitamins may provide against cancer.

  • 9
    You can eat chickpeas in many different ways.
    roasted chickpeas snack

    There are many chickpea recipes to use to incorporate this healthy food into your diet. Hummus is made from chickpeas, so try using it as a healthy, nutrient-dense dip for veggies to replace ranch dressing. You can also roast chickpeas and add your favorite seasoning for a crunchy snack. Canned chickpeas are already fully cooked, so you can use them as a salad topper, but they can also be added to soups or other cooked dishes. If you want to prepare dry chickpeas, it may help to soak them first and discard the soaking water to reduce the gastrointestinal intolerance normally associated with beans. Chickpea bread and chickpea pasta are also available for people who follow a gluten-free diet.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 17
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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