What’s So Great About Chickpeas?

March 20, 2024

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes and part of the protein food group. Not only are they versatile and delicious, but they offer a plethora of health benefits, particularly for individuals managing diabetes. Packed with essential nutrients and having a low glycemic index, chickpeas can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

It would only make sense, since chickpeas are a part of the protein food group, for them to be an excellent source of plant-based protein. Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and for people with diabetes it helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Additionally, protein promotes a feeling of fullness that supports weight management – a critical part of diabetes care.

Chickpeas are also rich in complex carbohydrates, providing a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, which helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. They are also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Fiber plays a crucial role in diabetes management by slowing down the absorption of sugar in the body. These two components (complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber) mean chickpeas have a low glycemic index (GI). This means chickpeas lead to a gradual increase in blood sugar levels compared to a high GI food. This slow and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream is beneficial for individuals with diabetes, as it helps prevent rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.

Chickpeas are nutritionally multifaceted. They are a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients, including folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc. These micronutrients play vital roles in various body functions, such as energy metabolism, immune function, and blood cell formation. Adequate intake of these nutrients contributes to overall health and well-being.

The high fiber content of chickpeas makes them a heart healthy food because fiber helps lower cholesterol levels. Chickpeas also contain potassium and magnesium, which support optimal blood pressure. These are important factors for individuals with diabetes who are at a higher risk of cardiovascular complications.

Some easy ways to include chickpeas into a healthy diet is adding them to salads, soups and stews as a nutrient boost. Hummus, a popular chickpea spread, is a delicious dip to eat with vegetables or spread on a sandwich. Roasted, crispy chickpeas also make for a crunchy and satisfying snack compared to processed alternatives. (See our newest recipe of Crispy Chickpea Snacks.)

Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse that can positively contribute to the well-being of individuals managing diabetes. With their low glycemic index, high fiber content and rich nutrient profile, chickpeas offer a range of healthy benefits, including improved blood sugar control and heart health support. Adding these versatile legumes to your meals not only enhances the flavor but also contributes to a healthier and more balanced diet, perfect for diabetes management.

Written and reviewed by Kristen O’Dell, MS, RD, CDCES