Recipe of the Month: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Updated: Jan 17, 2019
Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have spread their culinary influence across the world. They also come with a range of potential health benefits.
You can't find a salad that's more simple to make, yet its combination of textures and flavors is complex. The sweetness of the grape tomatoes with the grainy chickpeas combined with a simple vinaigrette made with both fresh lemon juice and wine vinegar is a perfect meal, side, or appetizer.
Fast facts on chickpeas:
Here are some key points about chickpeas:
Chickpeas are sometimes known as garbanzo beans.
They are featured extensively in the Mediterranean diet and Middle-Eastern food.
They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
Soak them in water for 8 to 10 hours before cooking for the best results.
Chickpeas have been associated with a number of possible health benefits.
Chickpeas are particularly high in fiber. Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels.
For people with type 2 diabetes, higher fiber intake may improve blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of 21 to 25 grams (g) of fiber per day for women and 30 to 38 g per day for men.
2) Bone health
The iron, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K in chickpeas all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.
Though phosphate and calcium are both important in bone structure, the careful balance of the two minerals is necessary for proper bone mineralization - consumption of too much phosphorus with too little calcium intake can result in bone loss.
Bone matrix formation requires the mineral manganese, and iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.
Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good bone health because it improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium, making sure that enough calcium is available for building and repairing bone. Low intake of vitamin K is associated with a higher risk for bone fracture.
3) Blood pressure
Maintaining a low-sodium (low-salt) intake is essential for maintaining a low blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2 percent of United States adults meet the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation.
4) Heart health
The high fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 content all support heart health. Chickpeas contain significant amounts of fiber, which helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
In one study, those who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 mg per day).
Although the mineral selenium is not present in most fruits and vegetables, it can be found in chickpeas. It helps the enzymes of the liver to function properly and detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates.
Chickpeas also contain folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, and so helps prevent the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA. Saponins, phytochemicals present in chickpeas, prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading throughout the body.
High-fiber intakes from chickpeas and other legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Vitamin C functions as a powerful antioxidant and helps protect cells against free radical damage.
Research shows that including chickpeas in the diet lowers the amount of low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, in the blood.
The choline in chickpeas helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
8) Digestion and regularity
Because of their high fiber content, chickpeas help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthful digestive tract.
9) Weight management and satiety
Dietary fibers function as "bulking agents" in the digestive system. These compounds increase satiety (a feeling of fullness) and reduce appetite, making people feel fuller for longer and thereby lowering overall calorie intake.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like chickpeas decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease, promotes a healthful complexion, healthful hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
10) Irritable bowel syndrome
Although chickpeas do not ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, they can be helpful to people affected by the condition.
Patsy Catsos, a registered dietitian and author of "IBS - Free at Last!" suggests that increasing fiber consumption in individuals who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a challenge. However, chickpeas offer a source of fiber that is well-tolerated by some IBS patients.