Chickpea Discovery

October 14, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Eating a varied diet is one of the best ways to ensure nutritional adequacy. I periodically examine my own menus and look for practical ways to broaden my nutrient intake and keep things interesting. This past week, I decided to try an unorthodox dip to have alongside vegetables. Most of the dips I’m accustomed to are dairy or egg-based and rather rich. However, the alternative I recently discovered doesn’t contain any cheese, mayonnaise or milk. Instead, it uses pureed chickpeas or garbanzo beans as a “creamy” base. The product itself consists of a short list of health promoting ingredients: raw chickpeas, tahini or sesame seed butter, lemon juice, citric acid, garlic, non-GMO olive oil, fresh red pepper paste and salt. Each one ounce serving contains only 45 calories and a fairly strong macronutrient composition: 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar.

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are much more than just a dairy alternative favored by vegans. Research conducted in animals and human cell lines indicate that these humble legumes contain numerous antioxidants with anti-cancer properties. What’s more, several studies involving human subjects reveal that the regular consumption of chickpeas: a) reduces appetite for “processed snack foods”; b) increases the level of beneficial (Bifidobacterium) microbes in the gut and lowers the number of pathogenic bacteria including Clostridum groups; c) modifies serum lipids (LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides) in a cardioprotective manner.

Not all chickpea products are created equally. More processed forms such as canned chickpeas and foods featuring chickpea flour tend to have a higher glycemic index. That’s why I recommend carefully examining labels and/or making chickpea recipes at home. A simple way to do the latter is to buy dried, organic chickpeas and soak them in purified water and a splash of apple cider vinegar for about 12 hours. Fresh whey can also be added in order to ferment the beans. Both fermentation and soaking will decrease the level of phytic acid, a phytochemical which impairs nutrient absorption. These simple techniques also support a gentler digestive experience due to the reduction of raffinose, a troublesome carbohydrate which can cause bloating and gas.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Variability in the Distribution of Phenolic Compounds in Milled … (link)

Study 2 – Protective Role of Chickpea Seed Coat Fibre on N-nitrosodiethylamine(link)

Study 3 – Effect of Chickpea Aqueous Extracts, Organic Extracts(link)

Study 4 – Chickpea Supplementation in an Australian Diet Affects Food Choice (link)

Study 5 – Diets Supplemented with Chickpea or its Main Oligosaccharide (link)

Study 6 – Effects of a Controlled Diet Supplemented with Chickpeas on (link)

Study 7 – In Vitro Carbohydrate Digestibility of Whole-Chickpea (link)

Legumes Provide a Good “Nutrient-to-Price” Ratio

Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):1095S-1101S. (link)

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Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Nutrition

11 Comments & Updates to “Chickpea Discovery”

  1. Jojo Says:

    So, you made hummus? Why didn’t you just say you made hummus.

  2. JP Says:

    Hi, Jojo.

    My experience with hummus hasn’t included ingredients such as red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, etc. Also, this particular product was milder in flavor than traditional hummus. The red peppers were the predominant flavor. Nonetheless, traditional hummus would also be an excellent way to enjoy chickpeas. I enjoy that as well. However, I might not use it as dip in quite the same way.

    Be well!


  3. Nina K. Says:

    Hiya JP 🙂

    great recipe, but raw chickpeas are almost not available, use cooked instead (organic of course).

    Wanna highly recommend you to eat fresh pomegranate with that, so delicious and healthy (not overeat 😉 ) Also very tasty: grilled crimini mushroom with herbs, olive oil and balsamico.

    Be well 🙂
    Nina K.

  4. JP Says:

    Hi, Nina. 🙂

    Sounds delicious to me! Thanks!

    Be well!


  5. Cindy Says:

    I didn’t discover hummus until a year or so ago. My first attempt at making it ended up being a disaster! I may have to try again and add some fresh red pepper. Thanks

  6. JP Says:

    Update: Chickpea flour helps to moderate increases in post-meal blood sugar …

    Br J Nutr. 2014 Dec;112(12):1966-73.

    The acute effect of commercially available pulse powders on postprandial glycaemic response in healthy young men.

    Whole pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils) elicit low postprandial blood glucose (BG) responses in adults; however, their consumption in North America is low. One potential strategy to increase the dietary intake of pulses is the utilisation of commercial pulse powders in food products; however, it is unclear whether they retain the biological benefits observed with whole pulses. Therefore, the present study examined the effects of commercially prepared pulse powders on BG response before and after a subsequent meal in healthy young men. Overall, three randomised, within-subject experiments were conducted. In each experiment, participants received whole, puréed and powdered pulses (navy beans in Expt 1; lentils in Expt 2; chickpeas in Expt 3) and whole-wheat flour as the control. All treatments were controlled for available carbohydrate content. A fixed-energy pizza meal (50·2 kJ/kg body weight) was provided at 120 min. BG concentration was measured before (0-120 min) and after (140-200 min) the pizza meal. BG concentration peaked at 30 min in all experiments, and pulse forms did not predict their effect on BG response. Compared with the whole-wheat flour control, navy bean treatments lowered peak BG concentrations (Expt 1, P< 0.05), but not the mean BG concentration over 120 min. The mean BG concentration was lower for all lentil (Expt 2, P= 0.008) and chickpea (Expt 3, P= 0.002) treatments over 120 min. Processing pulses to powdered form does not eliminate the benefits of whole pulses on BG response, lending support to the use of pulse powders as value-added food ingredients to moderate postprandial glycaemic response. Be well! JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 07/17/15:

    Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(8):1137-45.

    Chickpeas—composition, nutritional value, health benefits, application to bread and snacks: a review.

    Chickpea is grain legumes grown mainly in areas with temperate and semiarid climate. It is characterized by a high content of protein, fat, vitamins, fiber, and a lower content of carbohydrates than flour of wheat. Chickpeas may contain antinutritional compounds that can impair utilization of the nutrients by people. Heat treatment is an effective method to increase the amount of protein available for intestinal digestibility. Adding chickpeas to a foodstuff can increase their nutritional value and reduce the acrylamide content. Acrylamide is an antinutritional substance present in foods, such as bread, snacks, and chips. Chickpea flour and protein may be new way to a reduce the content of acrylamide in products of this type. The addition of chickpea flour affects the sensory and textural properties.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 07/17/15:

    Can J Diet Pract Res. 2014 Dec;75(4):218-221.

    Gastrointestinal Tolerance to Daily Canned Chickpea Intake.

    PURPOSE: Consumption of pulses is recommended to improve diet quality and decrease the risk of chronic disease. However, their constituent α-galactosides, including raffinose, are commonly thought to contribute to unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

    METHODS: Using a random crossover design, healthy adults (n = 12) received control foods, control foods with 5 g raffinose, and foods with 200 g of canned chickpea (11 g fibre per day), each for three weeks following a 3-day diet rotation. Gastrointestinal symptoms (rating 0 = none to 3 = severe), compliance, and stool frequency were recorded daily.

    RESULTS: No change in daily stool frequency (mean ± SD) was found with chickpea (1.7 ± 0.3) or raffinose (1.7 ± 0.4) compared with control (1.5 ± 0.3). Reported flatulence (mean ± SD) was rated higher with chickpea (1.0 ± 0.2, P < 0.001) and raffinose (0.7 ± 0.2, P < 0.001) compared with control (0.4 ± 0.1). Although bloating was infrequent, ratings were higher with chickpea (0.2 ± 0.1, P < 0.001) and raffinose (0.3 ± 0.1, P < 0.001) compared with control (0.0). No differences were found for diarrhea or abdominal pain. CONCLUSIONS: As gastrointestinal symptoms were mild for most participants, canned chickpea may be a feasible way of increasing pulse intake and improving overall diet quality. Be well! JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 07/17/15:

    J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Apr;52(4):2256-63.

    Organoleptic and glycemic properties of chickpea-wheat composite breads.

    Prevalence of obesity and type-2-diabetes requires dietary manipulation. It was hypothesized that wheat-legume-composite breads will reduce the spike of blood glucose and increase satiety. Four pan bread samples were prepared: White bread (WB) as standard, Whole-wheat bread (WWB), WWB supplemented with chickpea flour at 25 % (25%ChB) and 35 % (35%ChB) levels. These breads were tested in healthy female subjects for acceptability and for effect on appetite, blood glucose, and physical discomfort in digestion. The breads were rated >5.6 on a 9-point hedonic scale with WB significantly higher than all other breads. No difference in area under the curve (AUC) for appetite was found, but blood glucose AUC was reduced as follows: 35%ChB < WB and WWB, WB >25%ChB = WWB or 35%ChB. We conclude that addition of chickpea flour at 35 % to whole wheat produces a bread that is acceptable to eat, causing no physical discomfort and lowers the glycemic response.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Updated 1/28/16:

    Nutrition Journal201615:13

    Post-prandial glucose and insulin responses of hummus alone or combined with a carbohydrate food: a dose–response study

    Objectives: Pulses are low glycemic index (GI) foods and have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. However the blood glucose and insulin responses of hummus, a food containing chickpea, have not been thoroughly tested.

    Methods: Ten healthy subjects each consumed 11 breakfast study meals in randomized order over a period of 15 weeks. Hummus was consumed alone at three doses (2.7 g, 10.8 g and 25 g available carbohydrate [avCHO] portions) and with 50 g avCHO from white bread at three doses (2.7 g, 5.4 g and 10.8 g avCHO portions). The responses elicited by hummus alone were compared with 25 g avCHO portions of white bread, while those after hummus plus white bread were compared with 50 g avCHO from white bread. Plasma glucose and serum insulin responses were monitored over two hours and the GI and insulin index (II) calculated using standard methodology.

    Results: The GI and II of hummus were 15 ± 3 and 52 ± 13, respectively, and were significantly lower than white bread (P < 0.05). The glucose and insulin incremental area under the curve (IAUC) for hummus alone were significantly lower than white bread except for insulin IAUC of hummus 25 g avCHO. The peak rise of blood glucose and insulin after hummus were significantly lower than after white bread. Glucose and insulin IAUC after adding hummus to bread did not differ significantly from white bread alone. However the blood glucose 45 min after adding 25 g avCHO from hummus to white bread was significantly lower while at 120 min it was significantly higher than after white bread alone. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that, similar to chickpeas, hummus has a very low GI and II. Postprandial glucose responses were 4 times less than that of white bread and did not compromise insulin levels. Be well! JP

  11. JP Says:

    Updated 03/19/17:

    J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Mar;54(4):987-994.

    Chickpeas suppress postprandial blood glucose concentration, and appetite and reduce energy intake at the next meal.

    The current study was designed to explore the beneficial properties of chickpeas consumption on suppressing appetite, excessive blood glucose excursions, and energy intake (EI) from a subsequent meal. Two caloric preloaded foods, chickpeas, and white bread were compared to water control, fed to healthy female subjects at equal energy density, volume, and available carbohydrate content in two experiments spanning over 60 and 120 min. Blood glucose was measured by a portable glucometer and satiety by using a visual analogue scale questionnaire at baseline and every 15 up to 60 min in both experiments and then every 30 until 120 min in Experiment 2 after the preloads ingestion. A test meal was served at the end of both experiments to calculate EI and percent energy compensation (%EC). The results suggest a reduction of 29-36% in blood glucose concentration, and 83-98% EC after the chickpeas in Experiments 1 and 2 respectively compared to white bread. The average appetite showed a positive association with EI. We conclude that the consumption of chickpeas is beneficial on glycemic control and may help in body weight management through suppressing appetite and energy intake.

    Be well!


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