Food in the Spotlight

Exploring the Many Health Benefits of Chickpeas in the Mediterranean Diet

A lot of public health organizations such as the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA), to name a few, recommend the inclusion of legumes in our diets to promote better health and to prevent the onset of various diseases. In fact, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should all be aiming to consume at least 3 cups of cooked legumes per week. However, some experts believe that we should aim for no less than 4 to 8 cups of legumes per week to get all the health benefits these small but mighty beans have in store for all of us.

chickpeas

Source: bbcgoodfood.com

Did you know that chickpeas can do a lot in promoting better health for you and your family? Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have been proven to promote weight loss and better colon health, lower your LDL and triglyceride levels, and maintain your blood sugar and insulin levels within healthier ranges. Now, aren’t these reasons enough to get you started in a chickpea-rich Mediterranean diet?

A lot of public health organizations such as the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA), to name a few, recommend the inclusion of legumes in our diets to promote better health and to prevent the onset of various diseases. In fact, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should all be aiming to consume at least 3 cups of cooked legumes per week. However, some experts believe that we should aim for no less than 4 to 8 cups of legumes per week to get all the health benefits these small but mighty beans have in store for all of us.

Nutritional Value and Health Benefits
Aside from being a rich source of gut-friendly fiber, heart-healthy folate, and muscle-building protein, chickpeas contain significant amounts of molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus and iron. If you are still not aware of it, molybdenum plays a vital role in getting rid of all the damaging sulphites while copper fortifies the action of antioxidants in your body.

It also contains a wealth of phytonutrients including kaempferol, myricetin and quercitin (found in the beans’ outer layer) as well as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid and vanillic acid. With all of these nutrients packed in each single bean, no wonder it brings all the health benefits mentioned earlier.

Results of Recent Studies
Chickpeas and weight management. If someone told you that you can lose weight and keep it at a healthier level by adding chickpeas to your diet, would you believe her? Well, you should! According to a research conducted at the University of Tasmania in Australia, supplementing your diet with high amounts of chickpeas can help you reduce your craving for processed snack foods along with your overall food consumption. You can read about the full details of this report in the April 2010 issue of the journal Appetite.

Chickpeas and your digestive health. Did you know that you can get about 50% of your daily recommended value for fiber just by eating a cupful of chickpeas a day? Additionally, a large part of its fiber content is insoluble which means that it goes through your digestive tract unchanged until it reaches the colon.

Why is this important? Well, it is because the undigested fiber is ultimately broken down into short chain fatty acids, the preferred source of energy of the cells lining the colon. This action facilitates a healthier gut environment and can help prevent the onset of certain digestive problems including colon cancer.

Chickpeas and your cardiovascular health. Did you know that eating less than a cup of garbanzo beans every day for as short as 30 days can bring your LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels at a much healthier level? According to a research conducted at the University of Tasmania in Australia, supplementing the diet with chickpeas for as little as 5 weeks resulted in some small but significant reductions in LDL and total cholesterol levels of the participants. This report was published in the December 2006 issue of the journal Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Chickpeas and blood sugar regulation. Research indicates that chickpeas can help regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels quite effectively. As you now know, chickpeas contain significant amounts of fiber and protein – the nutrients that stabilize the flow of food through your digestive tract. At a research involving laboratory rats conducted in China, it was observed that feeding obese animals with a chickpea-rich diet for 8 months significantly improved their insulin resistance and prevented postprandial hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia.

As you can see, adding chickpeas to your Mediterranean diet can bring such good results so why don’t you start using them more frequently in preparing your dishes?

I hope this helps,
Ray Baker