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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 that we are starting to tame here. Food with multiple possibilities, chickpea is one of the main ingredients of hummus and falafels, two traditional dishes from the Middle East that are increasingly found here.

Chickpeas: understand everything in 2 min

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

Active ingredients and properties

For legumes in general
Studies have associated regular consumption of legumes with various beneficial effects such as better control of diabetes 1 , a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease , 3 and a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer 4 . The American dietary recommendations also suggest consuming pulses a few times a week 5 . Finally, among the great recommendations of the American Institute for Cancer Research for the prevention of cancer, we advise the population to consume mainly plant foods, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and cereal products little transformed 6.

For 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 benefits!

Cardiovascular disease . A study in hypercholesterolemic animals (blood cholesterol levels too high) has shown that the consumption of a diet containing chickpeas for 16 days leads to a decrease in blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), compared to the control group 7 . These researchers believe that chickpeas may be one of the foods to recommend for people struggling with deteriorating blood cholesterol. Also remember 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 leads to an increase in the number of bifidobacteria (beneficial bacteria in the large intestine) 8 . The beneficial effects of these bacteria would include, for example, an aid in 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 its name suggests, this type of starch resists digestion and can thus help beneficial bacteria to grow. Although more studies are needed to determine how far this effect can apply to humans, research with six people has shown that about 15% of the starch in cooked chickpeas is resistant to digestion. , thus becoming available in the large intestine 9 .

Diabetes control . Some studies in animals and humans have indicated that the consumption of chickpeas led to a lower glycemic response (blood sugar level) than that brought about by wheat-based foods or by milk casein , 10.11 . This property makes it an advantageous food for people who suffer from diabetes and who must therefore avoid an excessively sudden rise in blood sugar. One of these studies, however, found that this effect did not seem to persist 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 fibers, which are found only in plant products, include a set of substances that are not digested by the body. Chickpeas, like all legumes, are a high source of fiber: boiled chickpeas contain 4 g per 1/2 cup (125 ml) serving. A diet rich in fiber from different sources is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and can help control appetite by bringing a feeling of satiety more quickly 12  : the latter property can be an asset for 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 fibers 8 , which are attributed the ability to prevent constipation 12 . It is recommended to consume 25 g of fiber per day for women from 19 to 50 years old, and 38 g per day for men of 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 for 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 constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help 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 production 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 second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to 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 production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses).

 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 is involved 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 collaborates in the synthesis (manufacture), the storage and the release of insulin.

 Magnesium . The peas boiled chickpeas and flour chickpea are sources of magnesium. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, 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 by the stomach, thus promoting 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 to 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 tissue growth and repair, hormone production 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 that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

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

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.

Protein complementarity: not that complicated!
Unlike animal proteins, legumes usually have a low content of methionine (an essential amino acid in the body), which makes their proteins incomplete. However, for people who eat little or no animal protein, it is possible to combine legumes with grain products or nuts, which then provides complete proteins (which contain all the essential amino acids). In adults, it is not necessary to seek this complementarity within the same meal, since the fact of 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 at the heart of the diet for many individuals, so allergy to this food is more common. In America, the legumes affected by allergies are mainly peanuts and soybeans, which are more common in our diet.

Compounds both harmful and beneficial in legumes
Legumes contain phytochemicals such as lectins or saponins . These families of compounds contain substances which are sometimes considered as anti-nutritional factors (which can decrease the bioavailabilitynutrients). However, researchers agree that, in a North American context where there is an abundance and diversity of food 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 associated the consumption of some of these compounds with benefits such as a decrease in the growth of cancer cells and an improvement in blood cholesterol level 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 believe, the etymology of this word has nothing to do with that of its namesake “chiche” which is borrowed from the Greek kikkon , and which means “a nothing”.

A bit of history

Virtues and inconveniences
In the Middle Ages, chickpeas were attributed various properties including those of inducing urine, promoting menstruation, relaxing constipation and increasing the power of coitus. Unfortunately, he was also accused of causing flatulence as well as kidney and bladder ulcers: “it blisters the flesh of the body and performs an operation similar to that which makes leaven in paste”, one 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. It has long been believed that chickpeas came from southwest Asia, but the relatively recent discovery of one of its wild ancestors ( Cicer reticulatum ) in Turkey has made it possible to determine that it originated in the Near East and that it was consumed there thousands of years ago. From there it quickly established itself in India where it became the main legume and the staple food of the Indians. The varieties grown in this country, as well as in the rest of Asia, parts of Africa and Australia, are desi, with black or brown grains which are at least three or four times smaller than the kabuli type grains that are grown and consumed in Europe and America.

It is believed that the Phoenicians brought the chickpea to the West, introducing it to Spain where it will be quickly adopted. During the conquest, he entered Central and South America and, later, in 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 pea .

Chickpea flakes can be found 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 stores and supermarkets, as well as in Indian grocery stores.

Culinary dishes

The seed :

  • The Indians have created many recipes for dhals (soups, purees or stews) based on chickpeas. Under the name of Kala channa , you will find in Indian grocery stores desi- type peas which are particularly suitable for these recipes. Otherwise, we will take ordinary chickpeas. The method of preparing the dhalsis almost always the same, regardless of the legume. It is first cooked in water with turmeric and, if desired, hot pepper. Then we make a kind 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 pan dry or in oil, to extract the aromas. You can add raisins and coconut. Serve with a vegetable dish on basmati rice.
  • In the Middle East, hummus is prepared with chickpea puree, lemon juice, olive oil and sesame puree (tahini).
  • In Israel, they are made into falafels , kinds 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.
  • Chickpeas of both the desi type and the kabuli type germinate very well . They will be added to salads or stir-fry dishes.
  • 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 and tasting them as is, like popcorn.

Flour :

  • In Marseille, we prepare panisse , a famous dish made from a dough made of chickpea flour, oil and water, which we cut into sticks or slices and cook in large 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 rings or sticks which are fried.
  • In Italy, they are made from panelli  : we cook flour in salted water until we get the consistency of bread dough. Always brew. Let cool in the pan, turn out, then cut into slices and fry in olive oil.
  • In India, they are made from Besan Puda , pancakes made with chickpea flour, coriander leaves, onion and chopped peppers, cumin, turmeric and salt. They are cooked in oil like pancakes and served with tomato sauce or chutney. A variant of this last recipe, thapla is made from chickpea flour, wheat flour, spices, yogurt and melted butter. The dough is kneaded, then divided into dumplings which are spread with a rolling pin and baked in a pan.
  • The pakoras are donuts made of a dough made of chickpea flour that is stuffed with 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 more profitable if you sowed fresh vegetables instead. Especially since it is possible today to find chickpeas from organic farming. On the other hand, we could try growing pea desi type , whose grains are more difficult to find in our countries. 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 producers.

Ecology and environment

Before the cotton boom in the early 1970s, the Andhra Pradesh region of India had a variety of agriculture. Varieties of chickpeas were cultivated, which were partly sold on the local market, so that the population ate enough. 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 gotten involved, 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 only had 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. Gradually, the problems of malnutrition appeared.

They then went back to growing chickpeas, in rotation with millet , soybeans and green ambergrass.. Not only does this type of mixed crop bring more money to 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 peeled and split legume 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 putting a stop to soil degradation, a direct consequence of the monoculture of cotton, a plant particularly demanding in nutrients. Like all legumes, chickpeas fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and therefore help enrich it.

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