Medically reviewed by Suzanne Fisher, RD
Garbanzo beans (Cicer arietinum), also known as chickpeas, are a type of pulse that are commonly consumed in many regions of the world. Pulses are the dried, edible seeds of plants in the legume or Fabaceae plant family.
There are many types of garbanzo beans, but the Kabuli variety, which has a smooth texture and buttery flavor, is the most common type used in the U.S.
Garbanzo beans are nutritional powerhouses, providing plant-based protein, fiber, and several essential vitamins and minerals, and their consumption has been linked to several impressive health benefits, including improved blood sugar and reduced heart disease risk factors.
In this article, we’ll explore the health benefits and nutrition of garbanzo beans and share tips for incorporating this nutritious pulse into your diet.
Rich in Fiber
Garbanzo beans are packed with fiber, a nutrient that plays an important role in gastrointestinal health. The fiber content of garbanzo beans ranges from 18 to 22% and is composed of both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fibers are broken down by bacteria in your large intestine. This produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which are compounds that have a positive impact on your gut health. SCFAs regulate intestinal inflammation, act as a fuel source for the cells that line the colon, and strengthen the gut lining, thus promoting the overall health and function of the digestive system.
Soluble fiber also draws water into your stools, which can help make bowel movements softer and more comfortable to pass.
Insoluble fiber differs from soluble fiber in that it’s poorly fermented by gut bacteria. Instead, this type of fiber passes through your digestive system intact, adding bulk to your stool, which helps promote regular bowel movements.
In addition to benefiting gut health, fiber-rich foods like chickpeas help you feel full after eating, which can help you maintain a healthy body weight. Additionally, fiber-rich diets can help reduce the risk of common health conditions such as heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
In fact, a 2018 review of 11 studies found that study participants with the highest fiber intake had up to a 21% reduced risk of colon cancer compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.
Related: The Best Foods High in Fiber
Could Protect Heart Health
Adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet is one of the easiest ways to take care of your heart health. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption by the body and increasing its excretion through your stool.
In addition to fiber, chickpeas contain other substances that have heart-protective effects, including phytonutrients, such as isoflavones and saponins. Isoflavones have powerful antioxidant properties and may help protect against high blood lipid levels and atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in the arteries. Saponins bind to cholesterol, inhibiting its absorption by the digestive system and lowering levels in your blood.
Additionally, garbanzo beans are high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that are critical for regulating blood pressure levels. Eating more magnesium and potassium-rich foods, like chickpeas, has been shown to be an effective way to reduce high blood pressure levels.
Many studies have linked diets high in pulses, like garbanzo beans, with a reduced risk of heart disease. For example, a 2019 review that included 28 studies found that, compared to those with the lowest intake of pulses, people with the highest intake of pulses had a 10% lower risk of coronary heart disease, which is the most common type of heart disease in the U.S.
Could Help Support a Healthy Body Weight
Chickpeas are an excellent source of fiber and protein, which are two nutrients that play important roles in satiety. Both protein and fiber slow digestion and increase the production of satiety hormones like glucagon-like peptide-1 and cholecystokinin, which help you feel fuller after eating.
Choosing more foods high in protein and fiber, like chickpeas, can help improve satiety, thus helping you eat fewer calories, which is essential for promoting healthy weight loss.
Studies have shown that eating garbanzo beans can reduce appetite and help you eat fewer calories later in the day.
A small 2017 study that included 12 women found that, compared to an isocaloric serving of white bread, when the participants consumed 200 grams (g) of garbanzo beans, they consumed about 194 fewer calories at their next meal, which was served 120 minutes later.
This suggests that adding garbanzo beans to meals can help curb your appetite and cut back on your overall calorie intake, which can help prevent weight gain and protect against obesity.
In the 2019 review mentioned above, compared to the lowest intake of pulses, people with the highest intake of pulses, like garbanzo beans, had a 13% lower risk of obesity.
May Benefit Blood Sugar Control
In addition to protecting heart health and supporting a healthy body weight, eating garbanzo beans could enhance blood sugar regulation.
In addition to being an excellent source of fiber and protein, both of which help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, chickpeas contain slowly digested starches, which are more resistant to digestion compared to rapidly digested carbohydrate sources, like white bread, which can help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating.
Choosing more complex carbohydrate sources rich in fiber and protein, like garbanzo beans, is an easy way to promote healthy blood sugar levels.
A small 2014 study that included 15 men found that the consumption of 223 grams of chickpeas resulted in a 47% reduction in blood sugar levels after the meal compared to a serving of white bread.
Because garbanzo beans are so high in nutrients that promote healthy blood sugar regulation, they’re an excellent choice for people with type 2 diabetes. A 2023 review of 28 studies found that eating pulses, like garbanzo beans, led to meaningful improvements in blood sugar regulation markers such as hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c), fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, and markers of insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
Nutritional Facts of Garbanzo Beans
Here’s the nutrition breakdown for a one-cup serving of cooked garbanzo beans:
Protein: 14.5 grams (g)
Fiber: 44.9 g
Fat: 12.5 g
Fat: 4.25 g
Folate: 282 micrograms (mcg) or 71% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.228 milligrams or 13% of the DV
Iron: 4.74 mg or 26% of the DV
Manganese: 1.69 mg or 73% of the DV
Magnesium: 78.7 mg or 19% of the DV
Potassium: 477 mg or 10% of the DV
Selenium: 6.07 mcg or 11% of the DV
Zinc: 2.51 mg or 23% of the DV
Chickpeas are rich in many nutrients but are especially high in protein, fiber, and micronutrients like folate, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, all of which play important roles in health. For example, both magnesium and potassium are involved in blood pressure regulation, which is why adding magnesium and potassium-rich foods into your diet is essential for heart health.
Garbanzo beans are also high in folate, a B vitamin that’s especially important for pregnant women, as it plays a vital role in fetal growth and development.
Because they’re so nutritious, eating garbanzo beans regularly could help improve your overall dietary quality. In fact, studies show that people who consume diets high in garbanzo beans have higher nutrient intakes of fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron compared to non-consumers.
Risks of Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans are safe to consume for most people. However, since they’re so high in fiber, they may cause bloating and gas when consumed in larger portions, especially in those not used to consuming high-fiber foods. If your diet is currently low in fiber, it’s best to slowly increase your fiber intake over time, which can help reduce the chances of experiencing symptoms like bloating and gas.
It should be noted that garbanzo beans contain antinutrients, or compounds that interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, like iron and zinc.
However, research shows that heat treatment, such as cooking, as well as other preparation methods, such as soaking, significantly reduces the antinutrient content of pulses like garbanzo beans. As long as chickpeas are properly prepared, they’re safe to eat and shouldn’t interfere with nutrient absorption.
Tips for Consuming Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans are as versatile as they are nutritious and make a smart kitchen staple.
You can purchase garbanzo beans canned or dried. While canned chickpeas are ready to eat, dried chickpeas require preparation, including soaking and cooking, before they can be consumed.
Here are a few ways to add garbanzo beans to your diet:
Add garbanzo beans to salads and grain bowls for a boost of plant-based protein
Puree cooked garbanzo beans and use it to thicken soups and stews
Toss garbanzo beans into tuna and chicken salad for a source of fiber
Make a simple homemade hummus using garbanzo beans, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice
Coat garbanzo beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them until crispy for a filling snack
In addition to canned and dried garbanzo beans, you can also purchase garbanzo bean-based products such as hummus and garbanzo bean flour. Hummus can be used as a savory dip or spread, while garbanzo bean flour makes a healthy addition to baked goods like breads and muffins.
A Quick Review
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are nutrient-dense pulses that are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and several essential vitamins and minerals.
Research shows that eating garbanzo beans may help protect heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, and encourage healthy body weight maintenance.
In addition to being highly nutritious, garbanzo beans are versatile and can be added to dishes like salads and soups and made into delicious dips and spreads. Try adding garbanzo beans to your diet for a tasty way to boost your health.
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