Garbanzo Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

What is Garbanzo?

Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, garbanzo beans chickpeas, also known as chickpeas,, have spread their culinary influence to areas all over the world.
Though the most common type of garbanzo beans appears round and beige, other varieties include colors such as black, green, and red. The plant grows to 20–50 cm (8–20 in) high and has small, feathery leaves on either side of the stem. Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas. It has white flowers with blue, violet, or pink veins. Like other legumes such as beans, peas and lentils, chickpeas are prized for their high protein and fiber content, and also contain several key vitamins and minerals known to benefit human health.

Health Benefits of Garbanzo

Powerhouse of Cholesterol-Lowering Fiber: garbanzo beans are an excellent source of several cardioprotective nutrients including fiber (both soluble and insoluble fiber), folate and magnesium. Both epidemiologic and clinical studies suggest that fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can help lower LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad cholesterol’) levels and consequently reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Folate, in turn, has been shown to control high homocysteine levels, another well-known risk factor for heart disease, while magnesium works its cardioprotective magic by relaxing the arteries.Beta-sitosterol – the dominant phytosterol in chickpeas – and saponins – phytochemicals found in a number of plant-based foods including chickpeas – may further contribute to the potential cardioprotective benefits of chickpeas by reducing plasma cholesterol levels.

Aid Weight Loss: When it comes to the healthiest weight loss foods, it is hard to beat legumes. Legumes like garbanzo beans are loaded with fiber and protein, both of which help increase satiety. In addition to making you feel fuller with fewer calories, the protein and fiber in garbanzo beans can also put the brakes on your body’s insulin pump. Released by your body in response to elevated blood sugar levels, insulin is a fat-storing hormone that is thought to play a key role in the development of central obesity, better known as belly fat.

Good Source of Dietary Iron: Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world and a leading cause of anemia, a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. People with anemia may experience dizziness, weakness and fatigue as their bodies have trouble providing enough oxygen to body tissues. Anemia and low iron levels in general may also cause loss of appetite, brittle nails, and hair loss.Thankfully, low iron levels can usually be successfully treated with dietary supplements, iron-rich foods, or a combination of supplements and natural foods. Red meat and many other animal-based foods contain high amounts of easily absorbable iron, but also certain legumes, such as garbanzo beans, provide notable amounts of dietary iron.

For Immune-Boosting: When we think of natural immune boosters, we typically think of famous immune-boosting superfoods such as elderberries or citrus fruits such as lemons, but the truth is, the spectrum of immune-boosting and flu and cold fighting foods is much broader than most people realize.

garbanzo beans for example, are an excellent natural source of zinc and copper, two minerals that are essential for the development and function of immune cells. Just one cup of cooked chickpeas (164 grams or 5.7 oz) provides nearly 30% of the Daily Value for copper and about 17% of the Daily Value for zinc.

Uses of Garbanzo

  • Garbanzo beans can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground into gram flour, ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel, or stirred into a batter and baked to make farinata, also called cecina, or fried to make panelle.
  • Unripe garbanzo beans are often picked out of the pod and eaten as a raw snack and the leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable in salads.
  • Some varieties of garbanzo beans can be popped and eaten like popcorn
  • Garbanzo beans and Bengal grams are used to make curries 

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