The garbanzo bean, aka chickpea, has been a staple legume of several human cultures over the past 1000 plus years. It offers an array of nutrients and a very good source of protein in comparison to many other legumes.
Traditionally soaked, fermented, and then cooked for extensive periods of time in an effort to improve digestibility and to reduce the interference of anti-nutrients, many cultures also blended this bean into a paste or a gruel that would further improve digestibility. Increasing the surface area of the legume by further grinding or mashing allows for other ingredients blended into the recipe to have improved access to the chickpea’s proteins. This increased exposure of the meat of the bean to acids and spices, significantly reduces the effects of anti-nutrients and improves nutrient bioavailability. Examples of these ingredients that are used in traditional recipes are: lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne pepper.
Chickpeas are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber types. The fermentable fiber present helps our GI flora generate short chained fatty acids and can be part of a very microbiome-supportive diet overall. The soluble fiber types represented are both diverse and well established as protective.
Additionally, these legumes share several notable antioxidants that are found in coffee beans and in some other plants. Potent phytonutrients such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin are present in significant amounts. These qualities, synergistically, produce measurable benefits from chick peas offering, for those who eat them regularly, added protection against inflammation and oxidative stress. There is also good evidence that extensive soaking times (approximately 24 hours) actually improves the bioavailability and activity of these antioxidants.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, recent research has shown that populations who eat chickpeas regularly tend to be better nourished and are generally in better nutritional standing. This has surprised researchers, as a common perception of legumes is that they offer humans less in the way of nutrition.
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