The Health Benefits of Garbanzo Beans
Garbanzo beans are delicious
I look forward to the sound of the soft peddling of my favorite guy in town—the snack man on his rickety clunk of a bicycle, making his afternoon rounds. Very much like today’s version of the ice-cream truck but in Singapore, it would a fortune to keep the ice-cream from melting. So, instead, they sell snacks that can take a lot of heat and even rain. Like nuts for instance.
I can spot him, his bright orange turban first, huffing under the weight of his contraption, an ingenious rack of snacks pigeon-holed in various containers and I ran as fast as I can. A smile flying off my face as I hurried home to pester my mom for some money.
Some money to buy my favorite snack—boiled Garbanzo beans.
My “Kachang Puteh" (roughly translated, it means cooked beans and nuts) man smiled. Deftly, he whipped a piece of paper and transformed it a cone to fill with beans as I stood to his waist, surveying his assortment of snacks while he asked me about my day.
With my cone of boiled garbanzo beans, I retreated to my hideout to enjoy my savory snack and book. Perched on a branch of giant Rose apple tree, I couldn't care less what my annoying brothers were up to.
Little did I know that Garbanzo beans hold such nutritional promise or did I know about the rich history surrounding this unassuming pudgy comma of a bean.
A name by any other name
Garbanzo beans look like little ram’s heads, hence the Latin name, “Cicer grietinum.” It turns out that garbanzo beans also masquerade in other names depending on the source: chickpeas, Bengal grams and Egyptian peas.
Garbanzo beans don't just come in beige or light tan, they dazzle in a variety of colors: black, green red or brown.
The Big Picture
Garbanzo beans belong to a class of plants known as legumes or pulses. For their size, they tower in terms of nutrition: they yield good amounts of Molybdenum, manganese, folate, fiber, tryptophan, protein, calcium, phosphorus and iron. And absolutely no cholesterol!
A Little Bit of History
Garbanzo beans may the one of the oldest cultivated beans, dating as far back as 5400 BC. They were first cultivated in the Mediterranean basin around 3000 BC and gradually found its way to India and Ethiopia. Subsequently, they gained popularity among the Greeks and Romans too.
Today, India supply about 80 to 90 percent of the world’s garbanzo beans. Other commercial producers include Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.
Garbanzo Bean’s Nutritional Profile
Garbanzo beans are gems of fiber and nutrients. If all the different types of beans were to have a nutritional content competition, garbanzo beans will give the other beans a run for their money. Look at its nutritional profile, courtesy of Nutrition Data.
Garbanzo Bean's Nutritional Profile
What can garbanzo beans do for you? Plenty, according to different researches on this ancient bean.
Lower cholesterol and promotes digestive health.
Most beans are full of fiber, whether it be soluble or insoluble. Garbanzo beans are rich in both types of fiber. Soluble fiber forms gel-like substances and trapped bile (contains cholesterol) and then escort them out of the body. This helps to lower cholesterol level.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, promotes digestive health by preventing digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Of course, it has already established itself as a constipation aid, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Promotes Heart Health
Together with fiber, garbanzo beans also boost high levels of folate and magnesium. These two nutrients offer protection against cardiovascular diseases. Folate lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid produced in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine can damage the lining of arteries and increase risks of blood vessel blockages, both implicated in cardiovascular diseases. According to Family Doctor, garbanzo beans are rich in folate and vitamin B6.
How about the 85 percent of magnesium found in one cup of garbanzo beans? Surely, there are for a reason. Indeed, magnesium has many proven health benefits, among them—it puts a check on cardiovascular disease. Magnesium’s health benefits are documented in 5732 reports by PubMed.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar Level
If you’re a diabetic riding the highs and lows of blood sugar levels, you may be pleased to know that garbanzo beans with its rich supply of soluble fiber can help balance out blood sugar levels. Since it takes longer to digest fiber, garbanzo beans provide a steady, slow-burning form of energy. No more spikes, no more dips.
If ever there is a super multi-tasker, then fiber comes to mind. The high fiber found in garbanzo also induces the feeling of satiety (promotes feelings of fullness), thereby reducing the need to eat unwanted calories.
Although colorful fruits and vegetables are known for their high levels of antioxidants, garbanzo beans can hold its hold in this area as well. Molybdenum features prominently in garbanzo beans .Molybdenum is an antioxidant and an essential component of the enzyme systems. It enables the body to effectively use iron, an important source of energy. Molybdenum can do more: it can reduce symptoms of allergy, helps impotence in men, fights tooth decay and irritability and prevent anemia.
How To Make Hummus from Chickpeas
Now, that you’ve the 411 health tips about Garbanzo beans, the only thing left to do is to include them in your diet.
Due to its long history of dietary use, garbanzo beans are well-tested in the world of culinary arts. They are versatile and forgiving, especially if you’re new to garbanzo beans. Whether they lend flavor or blend in to enhance flavors, garbanzo beans are the main ingredient in hummus, falafel, curries and many Middle Eastern dishes. They can also be made into a coffee-like drink if they are roasted.
As for me, I love them in my salads, soups, curries and hummus. And of course, I love them boiled with some salt, just like the ones I used to have as a child.
How to Make Falafel
Tips for Preparing Garbanzo Beans
The easiest way is to buy canned garbanzo. All you have to do is drain off the liquid and viola, you’ve ready to use garbanzo beans. But if you like to prepare everything from scratch, cos you’re a culinary maverick, then “soak” them. Soaking them in water reduces the amount of raffinoise-type oligosaccharides (sugars causing flatulence), so you don’t have to worry about the “gassy” aspects of it.
Here are two ways to do it.
- Boil beans in water for two minutes. Turn off heat, cover and leave it for two hours or
- Soak them overnight in the fridge, so they don’t ferment during the process.
In both cases, skim off any skin that floats to the surface, drain liquid and rinse in clean water.
All that’s left to say is ENJOY!
The copyright to this article is owned by Angeline Oppenheimer. No part or parts of the article may be republished without the permission of the author.
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