Chickpeas belong to the class of high-fiber foods called legumes or pulse, which also includes beans, lentils and green peas. Chickpea flour – which is also called gram flour, garbanzo bean flour or traditionally besan – is popular in many countries, especially in Asia and the Middle East. For example, it’s considered a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Bangladeshi cuisines.
The health benefits of legume consumption have received rising interest from researchers, and their consumption and production extend worldwide.
1. Great Source of Fiber
Chickpeas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, with about 12.5 grams for every one cup of cooked chickpeas. This makes chickpea flour an equally good source, especially when you use it in place of refined flours that have been stripped of nutrients and are very low in fiber.
Virtually every study that has looked at high-fiber diets has found some measure of health benefits, sometimes even striking ones. Some studies show that those who eat the most fiber have a lower risk of developing diabetes, colon cancer, and are less likely to be obese and struggle with weight gain.
Chickpeas are rich in total and soluble fiber as well as in resistant starch, all of which contribute to the low glycaemic index of chickpea flour. The fiber in chickpeas also makes them a heavyweight in terms of helping with digestion, preventing constipation and even aiding in weight loss since they fill you up.
2. Improves Heart Health
High-fiber, nutrient-dense legumes like chickpeas are known to help balance unhealthy cholesterol levels, reduce hypertension and protect against heart disease. Beans can help keep arteries clear from dangerous plaque buildup, maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. This is why studies have found an inverse association between insoluble fiber intake and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Chickpeas provide ample amounts of polyphenols, many of which are potent antioxidants. Intervention and prospective research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that diets that include beans lower cholesterol naturally, favorably affect risk factors for metabolic syndrome, and reduce risk of ischemic heart disease and diabetes. Other studies show that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help decrease chances of a heart attack and help balance cholesterol. This happens because the bean’s fiber works to create a gel-like substance in the digestive system that binds with fatty acids.
Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber have been shown to be important in helping control and manage hypertension, plus high-fiber foods might also help prevent overeating and the accumulation of dangerous fat, especially around the vital organs, including the heart.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar
Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, not only lowers blood cholesterol levels, but it also helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This is hugely important both for people with diabetes and for anyone else with blood sugar challenges or metabolic syndrome. Chickpea flour has a form of complex carbohydrate called starch that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy over time in a much more beneficial way than consuming refined carbohydrates.
There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that high-fiber diets are a much more effective type 2 diabetes natural cure than diets low in fiber. Legumes in general cause less of a rise in blood glucose than foods like potatoes or almost any sort of wheat-based flour food.
While refined flours can quickly raise blood sugar levels and lead to “lows and highs” in energy, chickpea flour is a slower-burning carbohydrate that doesn’t impact glucose levels as substantially, which means it has a lower glycemic load. Eating more low-glyecmic foods is a way to naturally reverse diabetes, have more energy and prevent sugar cravings.
4. Promotes Weight Loss
High-fiber diets are often recommended for weight loss because high-fiber foods are usually low in calories, yet they expand in your intestines, which turns off your body’s hunger signals. In essence, foods high in fiber, like chickpeas and other legumes, have a high volume and high nutrient density, yet they’re low in calories — especially when you consider the fact that your body can’t digest carbs from fiber.
Chickpea flour is both a high-fiber and high-protein food, which helps make you feel full and often curbs food cravings. That can make losing weight fast in a healthy way a realistic goal.
5. Lowers Inflammation and Improves Immunity
Chickpea flour is also a terrific anti-inflammatory food, as consuming beans has been shown to have anti-inflammatory abilities and protective benefits against cancer, in particular cancer within the digestive tract including colon, stomach and kidney cancer. This is due to the high-fiber content in beans and legumes that can draw toxins out of the digestive tract, keeping cells protected, preventing inflammation and fighting free radical damage.
Chickpeas can also benefit the digestive system and improve immunity by counteracting acidity from a poor diet, which balances the body’s pH level. In a more alkaline state, the body is better able to remain in homeostasis, fight inflammation and stop cancer cells from multiplying.
6. Easily Digestible
Due to the fact that chickpea flour has zero wheat, barley, rye or cross-contaminated oats, it’s totally free from gluten and all grains. Gluten sensitive or not, most people can benefit from avoiding gluten due to its negative effects on the gut, digestion and immune responses.
For gluten-free baking, most cooks recommend using chickpea flour to replace up to 25 percent of the regular wheat or gluten-free flour in order to increase protein and fiber without compromising taste or texture.
If you want to go gluten-free, use chickpea flour in place of regular wheat or other gluten-free flours in dishes like falafel, hummus, socca, farina, pancakes, empanadas, pizza crusts and crackers. It works well in cakes or quick breads, and although it’s easily disguised by other ingredients, it’s pretty much undetectable when combined with strong flavors like herbs, cheese, chocolate and pumpkin.