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Bite-sized, addicting and satisfying, chickpeas are a diverse addition to all sorts of meals. You can top them on your favorite salads, mix them into your soup recipes, or roast them to create a crunchy snack. But what exactly happens to your body when you eat chickpeas? This legume family member is an excellent balance of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, according to Serena Poon, celebrity chef and certified nutritionist. They are ripe with vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and iron.
“Further, chickpeas contain powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals,” says Poon. “A small serving of chickpeas is truly one of the most nutrient dense additions to any meal.”
So what happens to your body when you eat chickpeas? Here are some incredible benefits, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
1. You give your body the right kind of carbs it craves.
In just one single cup of chickpeas, you’ll find 14.5 grams of plant-based protein, 4 grams of fat, including healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 40 grams of carbohydrates. If that last figure scares you, remember: carbs are not the enemy! As Poon explains, it is essential to note that while chickpeas are a bit high in carbohydrates per serving, their high fiber content and complex carbohydrate status make them a better choice for carbohydrates than many foods, especially anything refined or high in sugar.
2. You will stay fuller for longer.
Say buh-bye to hanger when you start incorporating chickpeas into your meal rotation! These small but mighty legumes are packed with fiber and protein, which helps to slow our digestion. This is important, weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour explains, since this lowers our appetite.
“You may find yourself eating fewer calories throughout the day after adding chickpeas to your diet,” says Mansour. “Chickpeas may help you avoid junk food throughout the day and stay full.”
3. You will improve your digestion.
Remember that cup of chickpeas? It also has 12 grams of fiber, or nearly half of the daily recommended value, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Since most Americans don’t consume enough fiber, this is a big win for chickpeas, Poon says.
“Adding fiber to your diet through fresh vegetables, beans and legumes are one of the best and simplest ways to support health through diet,” she says.
Plus, fiber has been shown to support digestive movement, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, support weight loss, and decrease cardiovascular disease and cancer risk, she notes. No wonder fiber-rich foods are considered the The #1 Thing To Eat Every Day To Lose Weight For Good!
4. Your bowel movements could be smoother.
If you aren’t as regular as you’d like to be, it could be because you aren’t getting enough fiber, according to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S, and founder of Ancient Nutrition. This nutrient is critical in promoting bowel movements and preventing constipation, as well as making your bathroom ritual more comfortable.
“There are also lots of other advantages of adding more fibrous foods to your diet too, such as helping to ‘feed’ healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut which support overall digestive and gut health,” he says.
5. You will help to balance your gut microbiome.
As the center of your body and of your digestion and immune system, you simply can’t ignore the gut microbiome. This delicate ecosystem supports all sorts of bodily functions, from our brain to our bowels and beyond.
“Aside from a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, probiotics and prebiotics are one of the most important components of a gut-healthy diet,” Poon says.
And guess what? Chickpeas are an effective food-based prebiotic!
6. You will lower your blood sugar.
For those who are living with diabetes, you may be surprised to find that chickpeas have been found to control glucose immediately post-meal, as well as suppress appetite.
“While the effects of chickpeas on blood sugar balance don’t necessarily translate into the longer term, they are still considered a healthy food for communities with blood sugar imbalances,” says Poon.
7. You may experience bloating.
The one downfall of chickpeas? Potential bloating. If you’re someone who doesn’t process beans or legumes efficiently, they could become problematic for you, creating gas and bloating.
“If you find that chickpeas are making you gassy, soaking them first before cooking them can help to break down some of their nutrients and make them more digestible,” says Dr. Axe.