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All about “Chickpea”

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Health profile

The chickpea is a legume commonly consumed in the Mediterranean regions and which we are beginning to tame here. A food with many possibilities, chickpeas are one of the main ingredients of hummus and falafels, two traditional Middle Eastern dishes that are increasingly found here.

Chickpeas: understand everything in 2 minutes

Dried chickpeas should be soaked and then cooked in water before they can be eaten. People in a hurry can easily find canned chickpeas, which are precooked: just rinse them and add them as is to dishes.

Active ingredients and properties

For legumes in general
Studies have linked regular consumption of legumes to various beneficial effects such as better control of diabetes 1 , lower risk of cardiovascular disease , 3 and lower risk of colorectal cancer 4 . American dietary recommendations also suggest consuming legumes a few times a week 5 . Finally, among the major recommendations of the American Institute for Cancer Research for the prevention of cancer, the population is advised to consume mainly plant foods, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and low-level cereal products. processed 6.

For the chickpea
Chickpea, like all legumes, is a food naturally rich in vegetable proteins, several vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber. In addition, it is low in fat, and like all plant foods it does not contain cholesterol. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy its flavor and its benefits!

Cardiovascular disease . A study in hypercholesterolemic animals (too high blood cholesterol levels) showed that consuming a diet containing chickpeas for 16 days led to a decrease in blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), compared to the control group 7 . These researchers believe that chickpeas may be one of the recommended foods for people with low blood cholesterol. Remember also that the consumption of legumes in general brings benefits on the cardiovascular level.

Beneficial effects on the bacterial flora of the colon . An animal study has shown that following a diet containing chickpeas for a month resulted in an increase in the number of bifidobacteria (beneficial bacteria in the large intestine) 8 . The beneficial effects of these bacteria would include, for example, aiding protection against colorectal cancer, a decrease in the activity of harmful bacteria, an aid in the assimilation of certain nutrients such as calcium and a contribution to the immune system. . The effect of chickpeas on the growth of beneficial bacteria could be explained, among other things, by the presence of resistant starch.. As the name suggests, this type of starch is resistant to digestion and can thus help beneficial bacteria to thrive. Although more studies are needed to see how this effect can be applied to humans, research in six people showed that about 15% of the starch in cooked chickpeas is resistant to digestion. , thus becoming available in the large intestine 9 .

Diabetes control . A few studies in animals and humans have indicated that the consumption of chickpeas leads to a lower glycemic response (blood sugar level) than that brought about by wheat-based foods or by casein in milk , 10.11 . This property makes it an advantageous food for people who suffer from diabetes and who must therefore avoid a too sudden increase in blood sugar. One of these studies, however, observed that this effect did not seem to keep after six weeks of daily consumption of chickpeas in healthy people 10. However, these researchers believe that this property may be more durable in people with diabetes, which will be determined in future studies.

Dietary fiber . Legumes are all good sources of fiber. Dietary fiber, which is only found in plant products, is a group of substances that are not digested by the body. Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a high source of fiber: boiled chickpeas contain 4g per 125ml (1/2 cup) serving. A diet rich in fiber from a variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and may help control appetite by providing a feeling of fullness more quickly 12  : the latter property may be of benefit in weight management bodily.

There are two main types of fiber (soluble and insoluble) that have different beneficial effects in the body. Chickpeas contain mostly insoluble fiber 8 , which is credited with the ability to prevent constipation 12 . It is recommended to consume 25g of fiber per day for women aged 19 to 50, and 38g per day for men in the same age group 13 .

Other properties

Is chickpea antioxidant? Data not available.
Is chickpea acidifying? Data not available.
Does chickpea have a high glycemic load? A little  : The glycemic load of 87 g of boiled chickpeas is 5.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Manganese . The chickpea boiled is a good source of manganese. The flour chickpea is a good source for the woman and a source for the rights , their needs are different. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Copper . The chickpeas boiled is a good source of copper, while the flour chickpea is a good source . As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help in the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Folate . The chickpeas boiled is a good source of folate while flour chickpea is a good source . Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the manufacture of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material ( DNA , RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.

 Phosphorus . The chickpeas boiled is a good source of phosphorus (see our profile Awards nutrient phosphorus ) while the flour chickpea is a source. Phosphorus is the body’s second most abundant mineral after calcium. It plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps maintain normal blood pH . Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.

 Iron . The chickpea boiled is a good source of iron for the man and a source for women , their needs are different. For its part, the flour chickpea is one source . Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses).

Good source Zinc . The chickpea boiled is a good source of zinc for women and a source for the rights , their needs are different. The flour chickpea is one source . Zinc participates in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it works together in the synthesis (manufacture), storage and release of insulin.

 Magnesium . The peas boiled chickpeas and flour chickpea are sources of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Potassium . The boiled chickpea is a source of potassium. In the body, potassium is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus aiding digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart, and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Selenium . The chickpea boiled is a source of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes , thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps convert thyroid hormones to their active form.

 Vitamin B1 . The boiled chickpeas and flour chickpea are sources of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, this vitamin is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we ingest. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.

 Vitamin B2 . The chickpea boiled is a source of vitamin B2 for women. This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, vitamin B2 plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to the growth and repair of tissues, the production of hormones and the formation of red blood cells.

 Vitamin B6 . The boiled chickpeas and flour chickpea are sources of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes which participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also helps make red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

What is a “serving” of chickpeas worth?
Weight / volume Chickpeas (garbanzo), boiled, 87 g / 125 ml Chickpea flour (besan), 20 g
Calories 142 77
Protein 7.7 g 4.5 g
Carbohydrates 23.8 g 11.6 g
Lipids 2.2 g 1.3 g
Dietary fiber 4.0 g 2.2 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.

The complementarity of proteins: not so complicated!
Unlike animal protein, legumes generally have a low content of methionine (an essential amino acid for the body), which makes their protein incomplete. However, for people who eat little or no animal protein, it is possible to combine legumes with grain products or nuts, which then results in complete protein (which contains all the essential amino acids). In adults, it is not necessary to seek this complementarity within the same meal, because obtaining it in the same day is usually sufficient 14. On the other hand, in children, adolescents and pregnant women, it is preferable to achieve protein complementarity in the same meal.

Legume allergy: regional differences

Allergic reactions to certain legumes can occur in various populations. In India, for example, chickpeas are central to the diet for many people, so allergy to this food is more common. In America, legumes with allergies are mostly peanuts and soybeans, which are more of a part of our diet.

Both Harmful and Beneficial Compounds in Legumes
Legumes contain phytochemicals such as lectins or saponins . These families of compounds contain substances which are sometimes considered to be anti-nutritional factors (which may decrease the bioavailabilitynutrients). However, researchers agree that, in a North American context where there is abundance and dietary diversity and where nutritional deficiency is rather rare, this effect has little impact on health. In recent years, research in vitro and in animals has even linked the consumption of some of these compounds to benefits such as reduced growth of cancer cells and improved blood cholesterol levels 15,16 .

Chickpeas over time

The term ”  chiche  “, which appeared in the French language in 1244, is an alteration of the Latin cicer or the Italian cece . Contrary to what one might think, the etymology of this word has nothing to do with that of its namesake “chick” which is borrowed from the Greek kikkon , and which means “nothing”.

A bit of history

Virtues and inconveniences
In the Middle Ages, various properties were attributed to chickpeas, including those of causing urine, promoting menstruation, releasing constipation and increasing the power of coitus. Unfortunately, he was also criticized for causing flatulence as well as ulcers in the kidneys and bladder: “he blisters the flesh of the body and performs an operation there similar to that which makes leaven in paste”, we wrote to the ‘time.

Charred remains found in the Middle East indicate that the chickpea was grown in the VII th  millennium BC with cereals, peas and lens. The chickpea was long believed to originate from Southwest Asia, but the relatively recent discovery of one of its wild ancestors ( Cicer reticulatum ) in Turkey has determined that it originated in the Near East and that it was eaten there thousands of years ago. From there it quickly established itself in India where it became the main legume and staple of Indian food. The varieties cultivated in this country, as well as in the rest of Asia, parts of Africa and Australia, are of the desi, with black or brown grains that are at least three or four times smaller than the kabuli- type grains grown and consumed in Europe and America.

It is believed that the Phoenicians would have brought the chickpea to the West, introducing it to Spain where it will be quickly adopted. During the conquest, it will make its entry into Central and South America and, later, into the western United States.

Culinary uses

Choose well

Chickpeas are more difficult to digest than lentils or legumes of the genus Vigna . Sensitive people could try the desi- type peas .

You can find chickpea flakes in France, but to our knowledge, not in North America. They are easy to prepare and require less cooking time than whole grains.

Although still rare in our markets, chickpea flour is available in a few shops and supermarkets, as well as in Indian grocery stores.

Culinary preparations

The seed :

  • The Indians have created many recipes for dhals (soups, purees or stews) made from chickpeas. Under the name of Kala channa , one will find in Indian grocery stores desi- type peas which are particularly suitable for these recipes. Otherwise, we will take ordinary chickpeas. How dhals are preparedis pretty much always the same, regardless of the legume. It is first cooked in water with turmeric and, if desired, hot pepper. Then we make a sort of puree, more or less diluted, which we season with various spices (garam masala, cumin, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seeds, pepper, fenugreek, assa-foetida) previously sautéed in a dry pan or in oil, to extract the aromas. You can add raisins and coconut. Serve with a dish of vegetables over basmati rice.
  • In the Middle East, hummus is prepared with mashed chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, and sesame mash (tahini).
  • In Israel, they are made into falafels , a kind of dumplings or pancakes seasoned with various herbs and spices, and fried in oil. They are served with pita bread.
  • We will not hesitate to make salads . The possibilities in this area are endless.
  • Both desi and kabuli type chickpeas germinate very well . They can be added to salads or stir-fries.
  • We can make a coffee substitute (the best there is, it seems), by roasting the beans to grind then, in the manner of Europe XVIII th and XIX th  centuries. Or imitate the Romans by roasting them and enjoying them as is, like popcorn.

Flour :

  • In Marseille, we prepare the panisse , a famous dish made from a dough made from chickpea flour, oil and water, which we cut into sticks or slices and cook in large quantities. frying. We accompany the panisses with a green salad. Another classic way to prepare them is to first cook the dough in boiling water, stirring constantly, then put it in a mold and leave it in the fridge for two hours. The dough is then cut into slices or sticks which are fried.
  • In Italy, they are made into panelli  : flour is cooked in salted water until it has the consistency of bread dough. Stir constantly. Leave to cool in the saucepan, unmold, then cut into slices and fry in olive oil.
  • In India, they are made into Besan Puda , pancakes made from chickpea flour, coriander leaves, chopped onion and chili, cumin, turmeric and salt. They are cooked in oil like pancakes and served with tomato sauce or chutney. A variant of the latter recipe, thapla is made from chickpea flour, wheat flour, spices, yogurt and melted butter. The dough is kneaded, then divided into dumplings, which are rolled out with a rolling pin and baked in a pan.
  • The pakoras are compounds donuts a paste made of chickpea flour that is stuffed onions or eggplant and curd cheese; they are fried in oil.
  • You can make pancakes with just chickpea flour and water. Let the dough rest for half an hour before baking.

Organic gardening

Like lentils, growing chickpeas requires a lot of space, which would be put to better use if we sowed fresh vegetables instead. Especially since it is possible today to find chickpeas from organic farming. On the other hand, we can try the cultivation of the desi type peas , the grains of which are more difficult to find in our regions. In France as in America, there is at least one seed producer who offers seeds of this type. Follow the cultivation methods recommended by the seed growers.

Ecology and environment

Before the cotton boom in the early 1970s, the Andhra Pradesh region of India had a varied agriculture. In particular, varieties of chickpeas were cultivated which were partly sold on the local market, so that the population had enough to eat. But the promise of high incomes pushed the majority of producers to turn to a crop whose product was exported, that of cotton. As everyone had started, prices fell and the peasants found themselves without money and practically without food. In fact, during these bad years, the average Indian and his family had only 10 kg of chickpeas per year, which is not much when you consider that it is the main source of protein in this part. from India. Little by little, the problems of malnutrition appeared.

They then began to cultivate chickpeas, in rotation with millet , soybeans and green amber. Not only does this type of mixed cropping make more money for producers, but it allows them to feed their families, part of the grains delivered to the mill being returned to them in the form of shelled and split leguminous grains. Today, the average farmer in this region has 50 kg of chickpeas a year to feed his family. Malnutrition problems have disappeared, and insect pest populations are under control thanks to crop rotation. In addition, we have succeeded in curbing soil degradation, a direct consequence of the monoculture of cotton, a plant that is particularly demanding in nutrients. Like all legumes, chickpeas fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and therefore help to enrich it.

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