3 reasons you should eat more chickpeas

Ceramic bowl full of raw cheakpeas on rustic background with copy space

Chickpeas have grown in popularity, but most Americans are missing out on the benefits of this healthful and inexpensive food.

“Chickpeas are a highly nutritious and nutrient-dense food,” says Susan Thomas, a registered dietitian with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “You can also do a lot with them, so I encourage you to give them a try if you haven’t already.”

Check out these three reasons to eat more chickpeas.

1. Chickpeas are nutritious

Susan Thomas: Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a terrific addition to your diet. The health benefits of chickpeas include:

Fiber. You can expect to get 12.5 grams of dietary fiber from a cup of chickpeas. Fiber helps keep your digestive system functioning normally. It also helps lower cholesterol levels and maintain blood sugar levels. Consuming high levels of dietary fiber may even help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Protein. One cup of chickpeas packs 14.5 grams of protein. The recommended daily allowance of protein is about 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, a cup of chickpeas could provide a more than a quarter of your daily recommended protein.

Folate. One cup of chickpeas packs 282 micrograms (µg) of folate, which helps with healthy cell function and red blood cell formation. Folate also helps to keep your brain and heart healthy.

Iron. You need iron so your body can make the protein in your red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen throughout your body. A cup of chickpeas provides over half the recommended daily intake of iron (for men and postmenopausal women).

Phosphorous. Most adults need about 700 milligrams (mg) of the mineral phosphorus per day to help them make energy. You can get 276 mg from one cup of chickpeas.

2. Chickpeas are versatile

Susan Thomas: It’s easy to get into a rut with any food, especially if you stumble upon a tried-and-true method of preparation. But you can do so much with chickpeas. You can even prepare extra chickpeas and put them in smaller containers so you can reheat them later and add them to a meal when you’re in a hurry.

A few ways to incorporate more of them into your diet:

  • Roast them in the oven and dress them with a little olive oil and spices
  • Make a simple chickpea curry
  • Sprinkle them over a green salad or mix them with chopped tomatoes and sliced onion.
  • Add to a pot of tomato soup, along with a few handfuls of baby spinach and some parmesan cheese
  • Make your own hummus with a little garlic, tahini sauce, olive oil and lemon juice. (See below for recipe)

Chickpeas can be a little bland on their own, but you can always punch up the flavor with herbs and spices. Chickpeas work very well with cilantro, mint, oregano, garlic, cayenne, lemon, onion, chili powder and curry powder.

3. Chickpeas are accessible and affordable

Susan Thomas: You can buy canned chickpeas or a bag of dried chickpeas at any grocery store. Tip: if you opt for canned chickpeas, be sure to rinse and drain them to remove extra sodium.

Eating chickpeas as a source of protein can save you money over animal-based alternatives. While costs can vary, you can expect to pay somewhere around $1.50 per can.

“Chickpeas are low in unhealthy saturated fats, unlike some animal sources of protein,” Susan says. “Plus, they’re high in many nutrients that everyone needs.”

More from Susan Thomas on WellTuned.


Try this hummus recipe

Hummus has just a few ingredients – chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, cumin, and olive oil. The tahini gives it a rich, nutty flavor while the lemon adds brightness. It’s quick to make in a food processor and so much better than store-bought.

Here’s how to make it:

2 (15oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth. You can add water until the desired texture is achieved. Drizzle in olive oil and process until completely smooth and creamy.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, adding more lemon juice for tang or salt for flavor. You can also add some cumin for earthiness, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.