Commonly known as ‘Kalo chana’ (Nepalese) in Nepal, chickpeas are a part of the vegetarian diet in Nepal and India. These are basically legumes belonging to the Fabaceae family. The plants are short in height and are mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions. The seeds are excellent sources of protein. There are generally two varieties of chickpeas, ‘desi’ and ‘kabuli’. The ‘desi’ variety comprises of darker smaller seeds having a rough outer covering whereas the ‘kabuli’ variety are comparatively larger light colored beans with a smoother coat.
Black chickpeas, also known as Bengal grams, Garbanzo beans or ‘kala chana’ belong to the ‘desi’ variety and have a much higher fiber content and lower glycemic index. Being an extremely versatile legume, it is widely used in a variety of Middle Eastern and Indian, Nepalese dishes like falafels, hummus and curries as well as salads, soups and stews or even as a quick snack. In addition to their delicious nut like taste and buttery texture, black chickpeas are extremely beneficial for health.
Health Benefits Of Black Chickpea
1. Aids in Weight Loss:
Inclusion of fiber-rich foods in your diet can greatly contribute to weight loss. Black chickpeas are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber facilitates the excretion of bile and ferries by forming a gel like substance in the digestive tract whereas insoluble fiber prevents constipation and other digestive disorders. Moreover, fiber fills up your stomach, making you feel satiated for longer and curbs hunger cravings. Drinking water boiled with chickpeas helps in reducing appetite. Thus, consuming legumes like black chickpeas can be more effective in weight loss than simply cutting calories.
2. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Black chickpeas contain a unique combination of antioxidants, anthocyanins, delphindin, cyanidin and petunidin as well as phytonutrients and ALA that maintain the health of blood vessels and prevent oxidative stress, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Black chickpeas contain considerable amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the homocysteine levels thus minimizing the risk of narrowing of arteries by plaque formation, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
3. Lowers Cholesterol:
The soluble fiber in black chickpeas binds the bile acids and prevents them from being absorbed by the body, thus reducing cholesterol levels. Daily consumption of around ¾ cup of chickpeas helps to decrease LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol triglycerides. Moreover, the dietary fiber of black chick peas is superior to that found in other foods.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar and Low Glycemic Index (GI):
The soluble fiber in black chickpeas controls the absorption and release of blood sugar. Moreover, chickpeas have low glycemic index of 28 to 32 which means that the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This aids in weight loss by controlling appetite. The low GI causes blood sugar to rise moderately and slowly leading to lower blood sugar levels. Consuming ½ a cup of black chickpeas a day is effective in controlling blood sugar in just a week.
5. Prevention of Diabetes:
As already stated, the carbohydrates in legumes such as black chickpeas are digested slowly, thus reducing the blood sugar levels. This contributes to insulin resistance, thereby reducing the risk of getting type-2 diabetes.
6. Great Source of Iron:
Being a rich source of iron, black chickpeas can prevent anemia and boost your energy levels. This is particularly beneficial for pregnant or lactating women as well as growing children. Iron plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin by transporting oxygen from the lungs to all body cells and is an important component of enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
7. Good Source of Protein for Vegetarians:
Black chickpeas are an alternative source of protein for vegetarians as these legumes in combination with whole grain or whole wheat protein, provide significant amounts of protein which are comparable to that of meat and dairy as well as devoid of high calories or saturated fats.
8. Beneficial for Women:
The phytonutrients called saponins act as antioxidants to reduce the risk of breast cancer, prevent osteoporosis and minimize hot flushes in post-menopausal women. Eating roasted chickpeas mixed with brown sugar and desi ghee helps in curing leucorrhea. Drinking water boiled with chickpeas can prevent miscarriage.
9. Treatment of Digestive Disorders:
Black chickpeas are rich in dietary fiber, 2/3rd of which comprises of insoluble fiber which is vital for maintaining the health of digestive tract. The fiber reduces the risk of painful diverticulitis disease and constipation by reducing the strain on your intestines. In case of dysentery, soak 2 handfuls of chick peas seed coats in 500 ml of water overnight and drink this water after straining, the next morning for relief. For curing constipation, soak chickpeas in water overnight and eat them in the morning after sprinkling ginger powder and caraway seeds (jeera) as well as drink the separated water.
10. Prevention of Cancer:
The soluble fiber contained in black chickpeas reaches the colon where it is broken down by the bacteria into short chain fatty acids which are absorbed by the colon cells and used for energy. This enables the colon cells to stay healthy and reduces the risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer.
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