Unlike its name, chickpeas have nothing to do with chicken or peas. Chickpea is a legume that comes in a variety of colors black, green, red and brown although most are beige-colored. Its name ultimately originated from Latin cicer. In the 14th century, it came into the English, by way of old French, as chich. The French noted the leguminous resemblance and called it pois ciche, which was translated as chich-pea. Later on chich was transformed to chick.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo bean, are thought to have originated from southeastern Turkey about 7500 years ago. They then spread to the south and west. Other identified centers of diversity include Ethiopia (as a secondary center), Mediterranean, Central and Near East Asia and India. Chickpea was cultivated as early as the Bronze Age, 3000BC, in Jericho. It was popular among ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. It was brought by Spanish explorers to other parts of the world.
TYPES OF CHICKPEAS
Chickpea is a type of pulse that needs a tropical or subtropical climate to be successfully cultivated. It has white flowers and each plant produces one seedpod that contains two or three seeds. There are two main kinds of chickpeas:
Desi with small darker seeds and a round coat grown mostly in Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran
Kabuli with larger, lighter-colored seeds, and a smoother coat mainly grown in Northern Africa, Southern Europe, Afghanistan and Chile
The chickpea is a nutrient dense legume. It is a rich source of fiber; 1-cup serving provides 10.6g of fiber, 42% of the recommended FDA daily value. Fiber is an essential part of the diet, and is important in a weight loss diet plan. Fiber provides bulk in food, increases satiety and regulates digestion of other nutrients such as carbohydrates, regulating the normal rise of blood glucose. Chickpeas contain a low concentration of fat compared to other protein based foods e.g. meat. 1-cup serving provides 2.74g of total fat, 4% of the FDA recommended 65g daily value, 11.9g protein, 24% of the daily value. They are also a rich source of folate; a serving provides 282 mcg, 71% of the daily value. A study has shown that a healthy blood level of water soluble Vitamin C increases the rate of fat loss. 1 serving of chickpeas provides 9mg of Vitamin C i.e., 15% of the recommended FDA daily value.
Chickpeas are also considered to be more digestible than other beans; they are a better choice for people who suffer from flatulence caused by bean consumption. Chickpeas are also known to have a low glycemic index value of 28 – 32 meaning the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This is helpful for weight loss as it controls appetite. This, with its high fiber and protein content is a powerful combination for weight control. Chickpeas also contribute towards lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Chickpeas contain none of the anti-nutritional or toxic compounds often present in other legumes. It is a good source of vitamins, especially B vitamins, potassium and phosphorus. Garbanzo beans have been reported to cause more satisfaction in a where they were included. These chickpeas also reduced the consumption of processed food snacks.
Many public health organizations e.g. the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association recommend legumes for optimizing health and preventing diseases. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 3 cups of legumes per week (based on a daily intake of about 2000calories) one serving is equivalent to ½ cup cooked chickpeas.
Chickpeas have buttery texture and nutty taste, yet somewhat starchy and pasty. They have a variety of uses. It can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled; it can be used in soups, stews, salads or even roasted with savory spices. Chickpea flour, known as garam flour, is high in protein and is gluten free. It can be used as a substitute for eggs in baked foods and it can also be used to make pancakes.
Chickpeas are good for stabilizing blood sugar. They provide steady, slow burning energy.
Chickpeas are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber; soluble fiber snares cholesterol containing bile from your digestive tract, while insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and prevents constipation.
Chickpeas are a good source of protein especially for vegetarians, without the saturated fats and high calories.
Chickpeas have a high iron content. For this reason, they can boost your energy. Iron is particularly important for growing children, menstruating women, pregnant and lactating women.
Chickpeas also contain phytochemicals called saponins that normally act as antioxidants. These are beneficial especially to women as it lowers the risk of breast cancer, protects against osteoporosis and minimizes hot flashes in post menopausal women.
Chickpeas also supply manganese, an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes that facilitate energy production and antioxidant defenses. 1 cup supplies 84.5% of the daily value of manganese.